Imitation is the highest form of flattery

IMG_1207During a short weekend break recently, my family and I went to the beautiful city of Edinburgh where – as it turns out – Harry Potter was written. I don’t know that. For breakfast one day, we found ourselves in the exact cafe (The Elephant House) where J.K. sat, drank coffee, ate croissants and penned the first few Potter novels. My girls even wrote on the toilet wall – yes, you are encouraged to do this.

Anyway, while this is all very cool and probably worth a blog post in its own right,  that’s not why I’m posting this…

IMG_1203Quite a while back, I wrote a piece about how I like to find names on gravestones. Naturally, I thought this was a novel way of filling one’s novel with authentic-sounding character names. Particularly as I was after historical sounding names.

Well – as it also turns out – there is a graveyard in Edinburgh where some of the headstones bear the names of characters from the Harry Potter books. Why? Because apparently J.K. Rowling did exactly the same thing as me.

So, all I’m going to say is that I’m amazed J.K. reads my blog, and I’m flattered that she decided to copy my idea.

I shall be sending her the bill for my cut of this intellectual property in the fullness of time…

Thanks for reading (that means you too Ms Rowling)

The importance of paying attention to coincidences…

I’ve talked about character names on this blog before, and you may recall that I get many of my names from gravestones.

Well, in relation to that, a funny thing happened the other day… or not so much funny, but more such a striking coincidence that I really just had to pick it up and run with it.

So here’s what happened… Continue reading

The Dead Rise Again: Odd places to look for inspiration…

Ok, so the title of this post may sound a little macabre and horror-show, but I’m not trying to scare you simply because Halloween is around the corner. I just want to talk a little about inspiration, that’s all.

Now, I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, coming up with characters’ names is a right pain. The principals aren’t so bad, but it’s the incidental characters that give me brain-ache.

Whilst out on a family walk, however, I happened upon an endless source of names and, from that moment on, I knew my troubles were finally over.

Wow, where is this place?” I hear you cry. Well, I can tell you, but you may find it a touch morbid.

First, though, I think I should mention that with my book being set in a pseudo-Regency/Victorian era, this bottomless well of inspiration works particularly well for me; but maybe not so much for others.

Where is this utopia of names; this cornucopia of hidden identities?” I hear you cry, once more.

DSC08468Alright then, I’ll tell you: The majority of the extras in my book are named after the dead (which is ironic really, considering it’s set in the future). Yes, that’s right: graveyards are the places I find these names and – much like the zombies in Micheal Jackson’s Thriller – the dead can now live again.

Gravestone 1Over the last year, I’ve assembled myself a collection of gravestone photographs – most of which belong to those who died pre-1900. So now, instead of scratching a hole in my bald head while I attempt to invent a Victorian-sounding name for a character who appears only once, I simply refer to my ghoulish gaggle of photos and grab a name from days-gone-by. Respectfully, of course.

Gravestone2I have sometimes wondered, however: is this actually legal? And when they make my book into a major motion picture, the credits roll at the end and it reads, “the characters in this motion picture are not based on real people either living or dead,” that wouldn’t be strictly true would it? Has anybody else done anything similar to this, or come up with other novel ways to name their characters?

Thanks for reading.