Sunday, January 13, 2013

What's In A Name?

When I wrote my first book, MIND PLAY, I started more trouble than expected. I used the first names of family and friends for each of my characters. That wasn’t the bad part. That wasn’t where the problem started.

The problem, you see, came when I informed people of what I’d done.

Unless you are James Patterson (who has ten million books released every year – that he does not write), you cannot write books fast enough to use the names of all your family and friends. Look at my name. Tomasso. Know what that is? Know what that means? Italian. Ever see a small Italian family? I’ve got more aunts and uncles and cousins than Stephen King has fans. See what I’m saying, eh-oh, oh-eh.

Anyway. I try to do my best. I try to incorporate the first names of as many people as I can. The thing is, sometimes, those just aren’t the names I want for my characters. Believe it or not, I put thought into the characters. And they become real to me. I look up the meanings of names. I picture what they look like in my mind. And if they don’t look they’d be named “Jane Doe” because my Aunt Jane Doe is on my butt about using her name, then I can’t in good conscience name that character “Jane Doe.” It won’t work for me. It would shatter the person/character I’d created.

My Uncle Bill used to come to every book signing I had in Rochester. And at each new book signing he’d ask me when I was going to use his name. Finally, I’d sold the manuscript of a novel where I’d used his name, his full first Italian name – Abello (“Bill”). His character was a Mafia Don in the story.

When Uncle Bill got up to the front of the line, he handed me a copy of my book to sign for him. And, of course, he asked, “So, when are you going to use my name in a book?”

So I told him about being a Mafia Don.

You saw it in his face. He was excited. He asked me, “What’s the name of the book?”

I said, “Pigeon Drop.”

He grimaced. “What’s that? That’s crap.”

To this day, I am not sure if he was seriously mad, or just being funny. We Tomassos’ have an odd, peculiar, sense of humor.

My first book was released in 2000. My ninth, Sounds of Silence, will be released later this year – and you know what? I still have not used all the names of family and friends as characters in the stories written.
At work tonight, 2013 – it’s no different. Only, my friends are more aggressive about what they want. Crystal wants me to use her name. Not her last name. Her first name, and … get this – to make the entire novel about her. (You may not realize it – but it was Crystal’s inspiration that inspired my last blog, First Dates & Red Robin Yummm … ).

My point?

There isn’t one. (Is there ever with me?) Except, maybe … be patient. If I can use your name, I will. Promise.

More times than not, I am using your personality. You just may not be smart enough to recognize it’s you you are reading about.


Take care,

Phillip Tomasso

PS … Check out my new website:
(Still under construction)

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