More about names

Following up on my earlier post about naming characters, I thought I’d give you some of the background on my two Finnegan characters and how they came to have the name they do.

Greg Finnegan is a retired English professor. He has built himself a small reputation as a scholar of Midwestern regional literature (and this is important in the Finnegans Deciphered story yet to be written) . Echoing Hemingway, he tells anyone who will listen that “all American literature began with Huckleberry Finn.” In his early days as a teacher he gets pinned with the nickname “Huckleberry Finnegan” (which gets explained in the yet-to-be-written Finnegans Begin story), and this nickname manages to pop up — to his embarrassment — in each of the novels. Thus I needed a last name that served this purpose.

I had originally intended to call them Flynn rather than Finnegan, since “Huckleberry Flynn” resonates better. However, my stories involve the Finnegans staying in bed and breakfast inns in each novel. (Sometimes this is the setting of the mystery. Other times, it is merely the base for a mystery on another stage.) So when I began writing these stories, I decided to look into the genre to see if anyone else was writing bed and breakfast mysteries. There are plenty of them. Most prominent, perhaps, is Mary Daheim, and tragically for my plans, her protagonist has the last name of Flynn (though not in the earlier novels). Thus there would have been too many coincidences between her (published) stories and my (hopeful) stories. So they became Finnegan rather than Flynn.

Greg’s first name is the name of a friend, and as I said in my earlier post, doing this allows me to better picture the character and his behavior in situations because I can easily picture how my friend would do so. Ann’s name, however, has more work to do. I intend to explore that in Finnegans Begin, but suffice to say for now that “Ann” isn’t all there is to her name.

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