Please help me welcome my friend Michael Rupured back. Make sure to enter his contest!
The Naming Game
Thanks, Chris, for having me back to talk about After Christmas Eve, my new release from MLR Press. Can you believe a year has passed since my last visit? Time flies!
To celebrate the release by MLR Press of my second novel, I’m giving away 10 copies (ebooks) through an 11-stop blog hop. To enter, comment before midnight, October 25, 2013 on any of my posts on the eleven participating blogs. Be sure to include an email address.
The first critique of an early draft of Until Thanksgiving, my debut novel, was that the names of the characters seemed random, like they'd been pulled from a hat. The comment surprised me. You mean there's another way?
My only rule had been to avoid picking names starting with the same letter. My writers group pointed out all the biblical names in Until Thanksgiving—Joshua, Adam and Caleb, Michael, Philip and James, and Mary, mother of Thaddeus. I had no idea.
Everything about writing After Christmas Eve was more deliberate. I wrote backstories for all the major characters, including a few identified only as police sergeant, private investigator, or first victim until I knew enough to give them names.
Telling James's story did lead me to add another rule. No more names ending with the letter S. The possessive is just too ugly.
Lifelong friends inspired some names. A dear friend inspired Terrence’s name and his love of photography. Inspiration for another name or two in the story will forever remain a private joke.
Real people have cameo roles in After Christmas Eve. Mary Day never appears, but she was a prominent ballet instructor in DC around the time my story takes place. Fess Parker, Ed Ames, Ron Ely, and Robert Conrad get mentions, along with Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, and the Beatles. Frank Kameny was a hero of the early gay rights movement nationally and especially in DC.
The right name is a beautiful thing. Parents know this. That's why they spend so much time thinking about it. But as a writer, I have a big advantage. I know how my children turn out in the end.
Here’s the blurb:
As Philip Potter wraps up his last minute shopping on Christmas Eve, 1966, James Walker, his lover of six years, takes his life. Unaware of what waits for him at home, Philip drops off gifts to the homeless shelter, an act of generosity that later makes him a suspect in the murder of a male prostitute.
Two men drive yellow Continentals. One is a killer, with the blood of at least six hustlers on his hands. Both men have secrets. And as Philip is about to discover, James had kept secrets, too. But James wasn’t trying to frame him for murder…
*This is the seventh of eleven stops on the After Christmas Eve Blog Hop. Excerpts appear in serial form along the hop, beginning with my post at http://www.shiraanthony.com/?p=3217.
Excerpt #7 of 11
Yes, he did have Philip. In some ways, that was the problem. Six years with Philip hadn’t erased sixteen years of damage, but his love and support had helped James to grow a thick, protective scar over his broken psyche. Without the unconditional love that Philip showered upon him though, his father’s words might not have hurt him quite so much.
Roland Walker didn’t understand the situation and had called Philip a perverted child molester. He couldn’t have been more wrong. His relationship with Philip at first was more like he imagined a loving father would have with his son. Ever the gentleman, Philip hadn’t so much as kissed James’s cheek until his eighteenth birthday—almost two years after they met—no matter how much James had pleaded or even thrown himself at him. Philip had insisted they get to know each other first, declaring that a good friend was harder to find than a lover.
Philip was the closest friend James ever had and the best thing that had ever happened to him. The years they’d been together were the finest of his life. James couldn’t imagine where he’d be without Philip. And Uncle George. Guilt washed over him. So many lies.
“If you can’t change, then stop embarrassing me and leave Washington.”
Where would he go? He could never ask Philip to leave DC. Working at the Smithsonian was his dream, and his future there looked bright. Leaving Philip would be easier than asking him to give up his dreams. Living without the one man who’d ever really loved him would be worse than death.
His father was right. James was a constant source of humiliation as much for Philip as for his family. Philip was too good for him. He deserved better. All James did was drag Philip down with his lies and silly dreams.
Too many lies and too many secrets. Guilt settled over him like a pall. Philip’s life was an open book—everything out in plain sight with nothing to hide. He’d never been anything but good to James which made lying to him that much worse.
By the time James reached the apartment, his mind was made up. He went straight to his desk and retrieved a pen and notepaper. He wrote two words, folded the page in half, leaving it on the desk where he knew Philip would see it.
Buy link: MLR Press (http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=MRAFTERX)
Web site: http://rupured.com