The aspect of coming up with ideas for a new book, or series, that is, for me, the most fun is definitely the characters.
Once I’ve a plot idea I need to get that plot going by creating people to drive the plot.
The main idea for “Buccaneers” was to have a group of kids, living on a remote island, solve a mystery. The Catholic School part was something that I’ve been wanting to do for some time. I thought it would be fun to draw on my own Catholic School experiences. I also wanted to set the story in the simpler times of post WWII America.
Since my main audience is young readers, I wanted to present how kids would survive without the internet and cell phones. But I also wanted “my kids” to use the technology of their times, a precursor to how their modern counterparts have embraced technology.
So, Lily! I close my eyes and here’s this healthy, pig-tailed girl with sagging knee socks, a slightly untidy uniform, and saddle shoes. She’s a little taller than her contemporaries, and able to corral her friends into a club.
The name, Lily Dawes, just sounds nice. When I do workshops with students, they want to know how I come up with names for characters. I honestly can’t say I have a gimmick for doing this. I think being a teacher with seventy-five to one hundred students’ names per year, there is a backlog in my memory and names just pop up.
The name must fit the character. Lily Dawes is a name that bespeaks a future young woman with a beautiful name. But, c’mon, we’re in 1947 in the eight grade and a lovely young woman is not on the radar. So, Lily chooses her code name, Sprocket. A sprocket is a machine part that make parts of a machine engage and move. The other Buccaneers have code names too. Find out about them next time.