Blurb: A young drifter is in deep trouble, his sister is his only hope…
Lucy’s younger brother has gone missing. When she sets out to find him, the trail takes her to Night Town. It’s a rural backwater deep in the forests of south western Australia.
Lucy tries to enlist the help of the local police, but she is met with hostility. She befriends a man who might help her cause. Yet he is not quite who he says he is.
As the locals begin to resent her presence in the town, danger quickly mounts. The town has secrets and they seem to centre on the enigmatic Samuel Nightmesser, its wealthy benefactor.
What connects her missing brother to this grim boondock? And why do the townsfolk want rid of Lucy?
As the story unfolds we are immersed in a creepy, claustrophobic drama in which everything is at stake. If you like books with a strong female lead that keep you on the edge of your seat, you’ve found your next favourite read.
What’s in a Name?
Names are important. As children, the first thing we learn to write is our name. Once mastered, a good deal of our self-image and self-esteem comes from being able to recognise our name in print and sign our school work. For writers, our name is our brand. If you’re good at what you do and manage to develop a readership, your name’s all that’s needed to sell books.
A name is never more important than when writing fiction. Part of creating a character is finding a name that works. It has to work in the context of the story and, in many ways add to the character. Memorable characters need memorable names. Names that are easy to pronounce and stick in the reader’s mind. That’s not to say an unforgettable name, one that rolls off the reader’s tongue and evokes a powerful image can take the place of a well-drawn believable character, but it’s a good place to start.
Great books of the past hundred years are peppered with some very memorable character names. Scarlett O’Hara the main protagonist in Margret Michelle’s 1936 classic Gone with the Wind, springs to mind as an iconic character with a name to match. Beautiful, intelligent, vain, spoiled and often shameless, the name Scarlett is a stroke of genius. Would Scarlett have been as iconic with any other name? Probably, but the perfect name sure didn’t hurt.
While a colourful name like Scarlett sits beautifully with the image of a strong-willed Southern Belle, an ordinary name like Harry Potter works as a playful contrast to the extraordinary boy wizard’s life. So which way to go? Plain or colourful? Ordinary or strange? Meaningful or bland? The choices are endless. Maybe that’s why writers get so hung up on names.
In my second book, Retribution Ridge, the two main characters are sisters. I wanted names that sounded sisterly, if that makes sense and added something to the women’s back-story. I decided upon Judith and Millicent, names I chose for a number of reasons. First, I wanted old-fashioned names because their mother wrote historical romance novels and it made sense that she’d give her daughters classic names. Secondly, the sisters have a shared dislike for their names which gave them some common ground even in the midst of a terrifying situation where they’re not sure who to trust. Thirdly, both names can be shortened and therefore easier to write and read.
So once the decision’s made about the type of name, the question becomes where to find it? Writers use all types of devices to come up with names. With Google, there’s no shortage of options, but just by chance I discovered a new source of inspiration. While attending a funeral, I happened to notice some very old headstones and found myself captivated by the names.
As I walked around the manicured lawns reading stone after stone, I was struck by the magnitude of interesting and unusual names. Maybe it was because these names are somehow more compelling because they belonged to real flesh and bone people. Some stones even had faded black and white photos of the deceased. Whatever the reason, I found myself inspired. One name jumped out at me so violently, I knew I’d found a name I would use when creating a haunting character in my next book. The name that grabbed my attention was Lucy Hush. And, from the name, a new character was born. A reporter in her early thirties, Lucy lives a somewhat lonely life until she finds herself searching for answers in a place called Night Town. The book, Small Town Nightmare is a crime thriller set in the fictional town in Western Australia and opens with the disappearance of Lucy’s brother.
Now I’m not suggesting that the cemetery is my new hunting ground (for names), but it’s something to keep in mind.
Here’s a list of my top five favourite iconic fictional names. Do you agree with my choices?
About the author:
Anna Willett is the author of Backwoods Ripper, Retribution Ridge, Forgotten Crimes, Cruelty’s Daughter and the best-selling thriller, Unwelcome Guests. Her new release, Small Town Nightmare is available on Amazon. Raised in Western Australia Anna developed a love for fiction at an early age and began writing short stories in high school. Drawn to dark tales, Anna relishes writing thrillers with strong female characters. When she’s not writing, Anna enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her husband, two children and their dogs.