When the synapses fail to make a connection…

posted in: Various Musings | 0

Forgive me for the silly title. This is not a post about the way the brain works (or doesn’t). It’s only about my brain and this post is most definitely not scientific. But I digress…

I don’t usually respond to reviews.  I think, for the most part, the practice can be viewed as unprofessional, and I feel that readers are entitled to their opinions.  Sometimes, I’ll respond with thanks, but I try to avoid saying anything, although I have been known to “like” some reviews on Goodreads.

Once in a while, though, a review causes me to want to respond publicly, like right now.  What I’m about to say is not negative, though, not in the least, but because a reader mentioned something kind of quirky she caught in my Nicki Sosebee series, I wanted to address it in case anyone else was scratching their head about it.

If you’ve read the Nicki series, then you might have noticed that there is more than one character named Nathan.  There’s Nathan Wright, the police detective Nicki gets to know over the course of the series, a man she eventually finding herself working with more and more.  Then there’s Nathan Carpenter, husband of her best friend Jilly (sometimes called “Nate”).  Last but not least is Jilly’s son Nathan Jr.  Why the hell would any author ever do something like that?

If I could go back in time now, I would not—nor was that intentional back then, either.  The first Nicki Sosebee book was the first story I penned with the plan of writing a series, and I came up with a cast of characters I knew I’d enjoy writing about.  Detective Wright didn’t become a major player until later on in the series and, you might as well know, the big conspiracy you discover at the end of the book hadn’t been fully flushed out yet.  The first story was written as a standalone and at first I imagined each book that way (a la Nancy Drew).  By the time I began writing the second book, though, all bets were off and the overarching story arc began to reveal itself—although you know if you’ve read the entire series that some of what happens in the first book ties into what occurs in the last!

Anyway…the characters I was concerned with in the first book were, of course, Nicki and Sean.  Jillian (and Brandy), as well as Sean’s friends Jesse and Travis were secondary.  Perhaps the only other important character then was Neal, the editor of the town newspaper, Nicki’s mentor.  The cast of characters grew as the story did, but in that first book, it was laser focused on Nicki and Sean and the danger she found herself in.

So Nathan/Nathan/Nathan.  How’d that happen?  I wrote that first book quickly in just a couple of weeks, and I’d planned to have a character named Nathan (not sure why other than I like that name).  As I proofread the story, I never, not once, made the connection that the throwaway character of Jillian’s husband (sorry, Jilly) had the same damn name as the police detective who would eventually become a very important character.  I noticed it later on—I’m not sure when—but it was too late, in my estimation.  Lots of readers had already purchased the book, reviewed it, and read all the books in that series that I’d published thus far.  While I could have gone back and changed it (and maybe even put a note in at the beginning of the next book for established readers), my thoughts back in 2011/2012 was this:  how many times in life have I known people with the same name?  In lots of the classes I taught, in many jobs I’ve worked I’ve known lots of folks with the same name.  It was realistic in a way, but annoying to readers (maybe/probably?).

At that point, having chosen to NOT make the change, I had another task before me:  make it matter.  If two (or more) people have the same damn name in a fiction book, do it for a reason.  So I did.  I figured I would go ahead and point it out in the last book.  I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read the final book or the series, but Jillian relates something to Nicki about the police detective and Nicki mistakenly thinks she’s talking about her husband before they sort through it.  Maybe not the best way to resolve the problem, but there you go.

The funniest part? No one had ever commented in any reviews or elsewhere on the multiple Nathans until I made a point of making it matter. 😀

Will I accidentally name two characters the same again?  Oh, my heavens, I hope not.  And, if I do, I hope I catch it. Or if it’s integral to the story. I could see that happening.  But, folks, this is one of the problems inherent with being a panster—sometimes we don’t outline, take notes, have bios to refer to so we know we’re not f*cking things up along the way.  😀  But I regret nothing! NOTHING! *cue villainous music* Mwahahahaha! 😉

Have you ever read any other books where that’s happened?  Or am I the only crazy author who’s ever done that?

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