Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blog Tour: Alyssa B. Sheinmel On Names in The Beautiful Between

Alyssa B. Sheinmel, author of The Beautitul Between, was kind enough to stop by Book Fanatics on her Blog Tour and talk about the names from her debut novel The Beautiful Between.
To read my raving review, click here.

And without further adieu, here's Alyssa:

I was planning to write about Connelly’s mother, because I thought I’d never given her a name. But then I remembered that I actually did name her. Her name is Ellen, although it’s only mentioned once in the whole book, in Chapter 2, when she introduces herself to Jeremy. I can’t believe that I actually forgot having given it to her. In fact, over the last few days, I’ve been talking quite a lot about that character and at one point, I actually thought to myself that it would be so much easier to talk about her had I given her a name. So I’m feeling pretty guilty and completely scatterbrained for having forgotten it. It’s like forgetting the name of one of your children. (I don’t have any children and I imagine that, really, forgetting the name of one’s child would be much worse than forgetting the name of one’s character.)

Naming your characters isn’t entirely dissimilar, I imagine, from naming your children. I even keep a running list of the names I’d like to use in stories, the way some people have already narrowed down a list of names for their future children. Of course, as an author, you can change a character’s name halfway through the story if it turns out the name you chose originally doesn’t quite fit. You don’t really get to do that with a child. Plus, a character will never complain about the name you chose to give it. I remember, when I was very young, complaining quite a bit to my mother about her having named me “Alyssa.” It seemed to me there were much cooler names she could have chosen.

But back to The Beautiful Between, and the only name with a story behind it: Connelly’s. I got the idea for the name Connelly from the actress Jennifer Connelly. She’s one of my favorite actresses (if you haven’t seen “Labyrinth,” do so immediately), and she’s also very beautiful. Since The Beautiful Between is in the first person, I couldn’t very well tell the reader that Connelly was pretty; I couldn’t even really give a detailed description on what she looked like. I tried to hint at it throughout the book, in the flirtations between Connelly and Jeremy, in the way Connelly thinks about her appearance. At one point, Kate flat out says that she thinks Connelly is pretty. But naming her after a woman I think is beautiful was my own private reminder that Connelly was pretty, my own inside joke. Plus, while The Beautiful Between was on submission with my editor, I actually happened to see Jennifer Connelly in real life, at a restaurant in my neighborhood called Bubby’s. Maybe it was just a coincidence, or maybe it was a sign that my Connelly was about to find her publishing home. For a split second, I even considered going up to Jennifer Connelly and telling her about my Connelly, but I was much too embarrassed (and besides, she seemed to be having a private day with her family). Still, at the time, it made me think that maybe Connelly’s name was a little piece of good luck. And what book couldn’t use a lucky charm?

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