I am a fan of classic films. (Think: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Rebel Without a Cause and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.) In Pure Abandon, there is a reference to the film, It Happens in Brooklyn. I even have a movie poster for the film in my bathroom (don’t ask.)
When I started writing, Kathryn Grayson, star of It Happened in Brroklyn’s, name popped in my head. I gave the name to our heroine thinking I would go back and change it. But a funny thing happened. The name became a character in and of itself. The theme of old films played throughout the book, as did the notion of life being black, white and “Gray”. All of a sudden, “Kathryn Grayson” went from being a place holder to the main character’s name. I couldn’t go back.
When I looked up the meaning for Kathryn, I learned the name meant PURE. As I played around with titles for the book, I wanted to work with Kathryn’s name. After all, this is her journey. To ABANDON means to withdraw; from one’s obligations, from oneself, from one’s desires… it fit. It also doesn’t hurt that the term “With pure abandon” happens to be a line in the book.
Alexander Asher was the only name I knew from the second I dreamed up the book’s story line. Alexander is a perfect name for our leading male. He is, after all, “The Great,” a king and a conquerer; the defender of men. He needed to have a name that was sexy and authoritative.
Growing up in Queens, NY, tagging was cool in the ’90s. I never actually participated in vandalism but if I did I always wanted my name to be Asher. It just sounded badass. The thought of ash played well off the word gray. And, it was a name I hadn’t read in books before.
With Alexander being the defender of men, it was only fitting to give his nemesis, if you will, the name of the defender of women and children: Gabriel. Yes, the angel Gabriel. Gabriel means “strength of God.” Like Alexander, he is a warrior. If I was going to have two strong men capable of tugging our heroine’s heart in two directions, than they needed to have empowering names. Gabriel vs. Alexander.
Next, the mentor. Since the other three names had strong theory behind them, I had to place emphasis on the this one, too. Malory means unfortunate. For those who haven’t read the book yet, I’ll save you from a spoiler.
Finally, there is Gwendolyn, the meddling mother. Since Kathryn means “pure,” I wanted a name that related. When I think of “pure” I see the color white. Gwendolyn means “White Circle.” In Pure Abandon, everything comes full circle.
So, that’s how I came up with the names of the five major players. The reader doesn’t know most of this. As a writer, it helped with the feel of the book as I wrote it.
After all, “with a great name comes great responsibility.” (That’s a Spiderman quote.)