What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I've done some of the obligatories. I went to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and tipped my hat to Oscar Wilde. That was a few years after I went to the Dublin Writers Museum. Oscar Wilde may think I'm stalking him.
I went to Providence in 2009 to do the Lovecraft walking tour. Record amounts of snow had fallen the night before thanks to a nor'easter, a term I may be using correctly. I was living in Texas at the time, and I was horribly unsuited to the bitter east coast February from a wardrobe perspective. It was a fairly miserable experience.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I just nearly froze to death in the process. The cold, grey sky was the perfect backdrop for walking in the footsteps of my favorite horror writer.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Proper people, who exist outside the realm of fiction, seem to be assigned names at random. It happens at or shortly after birth, before one's personality has had the opportunity to develop. It only qualifies as a minor tragedy, as parents rarely harbor deep regrets about their Dylans growing up to look more like Reginalds. Or if they do, they keep it to themselves and take up drinking alone in dark closets. That's how the world works.
In writing, if I think of my characters as my children, I get the benefit of bringing them into the world as fully grown adults. For the record, I don't like to think of characters as my children, given how often I end up murdering them. There wouldn't be enough booze in the closet for all the coping I'd need to do.
In conjuring fictional people from thin air, I get to decide who they are before I name them; furthermore, in many cases, I get to change their names during the third draft once I've finally decided that the original name simply didn't fit. Most of them have traditional names from one culture or another, which makes it easy. I do a search for "[nationality] [gender] names" and pick one. German and Romanian are the staples for the Terribly Serious Darkness series.
Some characters get their names based on obvious attributes that define them, such as Mrs. Knife. Very few of them don't come from me at all, like Santa or Loki.
My favorites are the ones that take me the most time. They're the ones I've invented by capturing the very souls of the characters and distilling them into syllables. That's how Sloot Peril, Krespo the elf, and Ghasterly the necromancer got their names. If I loved all of my characters equally, I'd do this for every one of them; however, I don't. They're not my children. They're more like indentured servants, most of whom will meet grisly ends at the hands of other, more murderous characters. It's not a perfect arrangement, but it keeps my drinking moderate and out of the closet.
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