A character by any other name

By Sally Carpenter

For me the hardest part of writing is creating character names-so many different ones for each book! I try to make distinctive names, steering away from frequently used monikers as well as names of already well-known characters. I prefer short, easy to spell names since they take less time to type and are harder to misspell.

A series protagonist should have a distinct name that stands out over several books. I thought a long time before I came up with Sandy Fairfax. He’s a former teen idol and many teen idols in the ’60s and ’70s had names ending in the long ee sound: Ricky, Bobby, Davy, Micky, Donny, Jimmy, Robby, Andy, Barry, Henry, Freddie and Larry. So I wanted that same sound in my character’s name. No real teen idol ever had the name Sandy.

“Sandy” was a good name because my character is blond. “Fairfax” means “light haired” as well.

Sandy Fairfax is actually the stage name of Stanford Ernest Farmington Jr. Sandy sounds like a possible nickname for Stanford. Around family and friends my character goes by Ernest because his father uses the name Stanford.

The name “Ernest” is from the Oscar Wilde play “The Importance of Being Earnest.” I saw a production of this show about the time I was writing the first series book. In the play, city dweller Ernest has a dual identity of “John” that he uses when he’s visiting in the county. My character also plays two roles: charming, confident Sandy the teen idol and Ernest, whose family is not impressed by his fame.

I picked “Farmington” because I liked the idea of seeing Sandy in a kilt and there’s actually a Farmington tartan.

“Sandy Fairfax” is the type of name that trips off the tongue and looks good on album covers. If a real teen idol ever had this name, I’d be gaga over him!

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