November 12, 2003

Names in TINKER

Why did I name the various characters of TINKER the names I gave them? Why did I pick Alexander Graham Bell?

Oh the joys of naming characters.

Well, part of it was that if you have a young girl dealing with elves and magic by the name of Tinker, Tinkerbell follows unavoidably. Bell had to be Tinker's real name to begin with because it would be too "cute" for Tinker to call herself otherwise.

When I was growing up, my sister who now runs a junkyard ran with a guy by the name of Oilcan. I never knew his real name or why they called him Oilcan. On the first day of writing Tinker, I reached for a name to go with an junkyard employee and came up with Oilcan. Later I made him Tinker's cousin. But what was his real name? Why would he go by Oilcan? I decided that it was his real name was 'weird'. At first I was going to use a family name of Orie, who was my Dad's uncle. But I changed my mind and went with Orville. It was a split moment decision -- fingers paused over the keyboard, then typing, then backspacing and more typing. One second he was Orie and the next Orville. I think it might be my brain saying Orie wasn't geeky enough.

The family naming scheme then sprang up, suggested by a family that used to live down the road from our Berkshire Mountains home. The father was a software engineer that had gone through at least one startup company and now was a millionaire. His daughter was named after the female inventor who inspired one of the first programming languages to be called Ada.

So Orville became Orville Wright, and Tinker Bell became Alexander Graham Bell, so of course, the dead father became Leonardo DeVinci Dufae.

Why Dufae?

Well first, if the family's "real" name was Bell, then the natural assumption was that they were related to the real Alexander Graham Bell. Secondly, it wouldn't make sense that no one realized Leo had a daughter if his father had a granddaughter that wasn't his daughter's child -- thus the family was "in hiding," and Bell was a "cover" name. Third, if Leo's work was an natural extension of current theories, it wouldn't make sense that no one had recreated his work in nearly thirty years. If his work was based on magic and spells, however, handed down through the family, then it was would be such a radical leap forward that everyone would be left in the dust. Thus, the family had to have a elf in the family.

Tinker's ancestor, however, would have on Earth when the gates failed, which I wanted to have happened hundreds of years ago. Since North America was unknown to the elves on Elfhome, he would be in Europe when the gates failed. I decided to go with France, with a convienent revolution to kill him off. All that suggested Morgan la Fae, which I twisted to Dufae, via the immagration to an English speaking colony (perhaps Boston or Philadelphia, instead of the more Dutch New York or French Montreal or New Orleans.)

Maynard and Tooloo were fingers over keyboard and the name came. Lain is actually named after an anime character that we just finished watching -- not that she's anything like the anti-social VR hacker. Lain's last name came when I was sitting trying to think of a last name for her and my husband walked into my office to talk about one of his managers.

The seed character of Tinker was based on a RPG character named Page Bailey, a teenage girl genius that kicked butt in deep space. One of Don's character was Corg Durrack, who I swiped. Hannah Briggs is named in part for a friend, Sherry Briggs.

The dead scientists were all tuckers from the Baen's Bar newsgroup.

Pony's name -- Storm Horse, Little Horse, Pony -- was all swiped from a character of a failed writing project (although the character objects voilently about his name being taken. I've pacified him with the name William, which he's taken a liking too.)

Sparrow was actually a long thought out process. I wanted a name to suggest a lowly beginning that was raised up to a new level, and yet still stuck with her old trappings.

Riki was always Riki. Chiyo was picked off a list of Japanese/Chinese names. Lord Tomtom came from the one thing I remember from reading Thieves World, where there was a character with a long name that the other characters would call Prince Kittycat or somthing like that. I was trying to indicate the idea that the Earth-born Oni found the name difficult to deal with and were rebelling against the Oni rule.

Posted by wen at November 12, 2003 12:58 AM