I find it almost endlessly fascinating; the discussions we readers and authors have about various aspects of the characters that people our stories and how they come and go—or don’t go. Can a male write an effective female character and vice versa? Are your characters based on real people? Do they recognize themselves? How do you come up with the evil that infects some of your characters? How much do you obsess over finding just the right names for your characters?

Is there a formula, do you think, that moves agents/editors to be more or less receptive to certain names? Do you even think about the characteristics of names. Are they clues? Is any of this the least bit important?

There are a number of on-line sites that offer interesting information about names. Do writers actually use such sources to help them decide on character names and does it really help? The history of model names in the automotive world is an enlightening thread to follow, as is the sound of the name and the number of syllables. All of these are or can be factors in whether readers “take to” or reject characters in a book. I wonder how people feel about the characters on some of my stories? If you’ve read them, or even if you’ve just read about them, what’s your opinion?

The names of characters in my books sometimes suggest themselves, but more often than not I go looking for a name that seems right for the character. I consider many factors including the race, religion, age and geographical background. Visiting my daughter in Colorado last year, we went to a small-town cemetery because I requested it. The cemetery is situated on the crown of a windswept bluff overlooking the Colorado River. Yes, THAT Colorado River, not very wide, not very deep and not very fast at this point.

Examining the gravestones on that lonely barren plot of land, I found names that could have come from every other part of the world. Then I noticed that there was a preponderance of names that clearly had Eastern European roots. Why, I wondered and later learned that many young men from Eastern Europe had come to this part of Colorado to work in the coal mines. Interesting small facts a writer can file away for use another day. When I wrote my most recent detective novel, “The Case of the Yellow Diamond,” I used information provided years ago by my uncle from his years stationed in what was then called Rangoon, and obituaries from the Des Moines Register, the major Iowa newspaper. Small facts that often help to produce the proper atmosphere for the reader.

Buy Link:

The Case of the Yellow Diamond
By Carl Brookins

North Star Press
Trade paper, 180 pgs
 September 2015 $14.95

A dead man on the floor of his office in Minneapolis won’t lead P.I. Sean Sean to journey to Yap Island to protect his new client. Bombs in lawyers’ cars only jostle him. This short investigator knows the value of research and asking questions in the right places. World War II, Asian diamonds and concrete in Des Moines combine to almost destroy a Minnesota family. In the end, Sean detects flaws in the plans and brings down a criminal enterprise.

Brief bio and links for Carl Brookins:

Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.

He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University.


Lots of good advice here, Carl. Thanks for visiting!

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