Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Macy By Any Other Name - Guest Post by Author Amy M. Reade!


 Macy Stoddard had hoped to ease the grief of losing her parents in a fiery car crash by accepting a job as a private nurse to the wealthy and widowed Alexandria Hallstead.

But her first sight of Summerplace is of a dark and forbidding home. She quickly finds its winding halls and shadowy rooms filled with secrets and suspicions. Alex seems happy to have Macy’s help, but others on the island, including Alex’s sinister servants and hostile relatives, are far less welcoming.

Watching eyes, veiled threats…slowly, surely, the menacing spirit of Hallstead Island closes in around Macy. And she can only wonder if her story will become just one of the many secrets of Hallstead House…

Romantic Suspense | Kensington Publishing Corp. | July 17, 2014

eISBN-13: 978-1-60183-299-3 | eISBN-10: 1-60183-299-0

ISBN-13: 978-1-60183-300-6 | ISBN-10: 1-60183-300-8


Macy Stoddard is the name of the main character in my first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House. I tried out other names, but Macy just worked. And once the story was written, there was simply no way I could have changed her name, even if I had wanted to. It was as much as part of her as my name is a part of me.

So where did her name come from? The short answer is “I don’t know.” I just like the name Macy. And the name Stoddard. 

I used to read books featuring characters with exotic, faraway-sounding names. I always wondered where the authors had ever heard those names or whether the names were just made up. I also remember thinking I would never want to name my children after any of those characters.

But every once in a while I come across a book peopled with names that are straight out of the “Book of Common Names” and I find them boring. I don’t mind the occasional regular name here and there, but I want names that show imagination and originality. They don’t have to be names that have never been used, but I want them to have some personality. Some oomph. If a story has characters named Mary, Joe, and Dave, that’s boring to me. Not that I don’t like those names, but I want those characters to be called Ysobel, Georges, and Maurice instead. In Secrets of Hallstead House, Macy meets a man named Pete. I really like the name Pete, and it fits the character, but there are days I wish I had called him something else from the very start. Something like Mick or Sean. 

One of the characters in my second book used to be named Helena, but she was one of three main characters whose names all started with the letter H. I ended up having to change her name to Lucy, which actually fits her better. I thought it would be hard for me to think of her as a Lucy when all along she had been Helena to me, but it wasn’t. I think her name was always meant to be Lucy.

I love names. I love to research them and learn their origins and meanings. I enjoy surnames as much as first names. In my work-in-progress notebook I have a whole page dedicated to noting names that I hear and love or names that I think of and want to remember and use in a later story. 

I still have the baby name book I bought before my first child was born and I actually keep it right near me on my desk. I love to leaf through it looking at different names and their origins and alternative spellings. I like go online and search for names from different countries. My work-in-progress takes place in Hawaii, and I’ve had a lot of fun researching Hawaiian names for men and women. 

I know of several authors (I’m sure there are lots of them) who hold contests and the winners get characters named after them. Hmmm. That might be something for me to think about. 

In the meantime, I still love the name Macy. And Brandt and Alex and Leland and Valentina and all the other names of the characters in Secrets of Hallstead House. Their names are personal to them and to me. 

Readers, what’s your name? Do you ever wish it was different?


Amy M. Reade is a debut author of romantic suspense. A native of upstate New York, she grew up in the Thousand Islands region and was inspired by the natural beauty of that area to write her first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House. She now lives in New Jersey with her husband, three children, a Bouvier des Flandres named Orly, and two rescued cats who refuse to answer to their names of Porthos and Athos.

Upon graduation from Cornell University and Indiana University School of Law, Amy practiced law in New York City, but soon discovered that her dream job was writing. In addition to volunteering with school, church, and community groups, Amy is currently working on her second novel, set in the area around Charleston, South Carolina.

Though Amy lives within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, she is partial to the blue waters of the Pacific and spends as much time as possible on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is the setting of her as-yet-unwritten third novel.



Amy Reade said...

Thanks for hosting me today!

Nancy LiPetri said...

I agree, names can add personality to characters. Because my town on Lake Norman, NC, was so central to my novel, I had fun using some street names and such for character surnames. Fun post!

Amy Reade said...

Hi, Nancy,

Using street names for character surnames is a great idea! Thanks for stopping by!

Addicted2Heroines said...

I really like the name Pete. One of my favorite series has a female character with that name =) I like Lucy too. Don't think I've ever actually met anyone with that name in real life. Some of my favorite heroines have somewhat unusual names...Chess, Devi, Sirantha, Faythe, and Ellysetta.

Anonymous said...

Pete seems like a fairly common name, but I've only ever known a few Petes. So it's not common to me. And as for Lucy, I'm always afraid that a reader will make an immediate connection with Lucille Ball, but the name was just perfect, so I had to use it. And I have a new favorite name for a woman...Esme. I love it!!

Janet Greger said...

I think names are an extension of the character's description. I called one boring lawyer John Smith. I had another character say the lawyer was as boring as his name.
JL Greger, author of medical mysteries/ suspense - Coming flu, Ignore the Pain, & Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight

Braine TS said...

I feel you, I have a certain fascination for names as well. I have no plans of having kids but I still come up with it. In my head, I'm like the Jolie-Pitts in a parallel universe and my brood has these cool, badass, pretty names. Yes, I need help :P

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree! It's great when one character recognizes the significance of a name, too! Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

And I love the name Braine! And by the way, I went with totally traditional names for my three kids!

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