Authors Augusta Scattergood and Sarah Weeks discuss their new books and how they come up with names for their characters.
Sarah: Hey, Augusta Scattergood. You don’t mind if I call you by your full name, do you? It’s such a wonderful name! It makes me smile just to say it. Speaking of names, how did you choose the names for the characters in your new book The Way to Stay in Destiny?
Augusta: Names are so important, aren’t they? But I don't always get them right the first time. Occasionally I give a character a place-holder name until he tells me what to call him. Theo was Shelton for a while! But Theo’s name is such a part of him—the mystery of why he was named for Thelonious Monk and that now he’s “just plain Theo.” Miss Sister was actually named for a dance teacher in my hometown. Speaking of names that make you smile, I can just hear Honey being read aloud to kids. Teeny and Melody jump off the pages. And Bee-Bee Churchill. Great names, great characters.
Sarah: Thanks! Melody’s mother was a musician, so I chose a musical name for her. Even the dog in Honey is named after a famous composer. I was a singer-songwriter for many years before I became an author, so I have a deep love of music. I really enjoyed reading about Theo’s musical talent. I could hear that piano playing inside my head. Our new books have a number of things in common—pianos, bratty neighbors, dogs, and dance lessons—did I leave anything out?
Augusta: Let’s see, both of our books are set in small towns where kids have the freedom to get themselves in and out of escapades. Although I’ve lived in a lot of places, my heart is in the kind of place I grew up, a small southern town.
Sarah: I didn’t grow up in a small town, but I spend my summers in a little town in the Catskill Mountains. My dog loves to swim in our pond there. I wonder if Mo and Ginger would get along.
Augusta: My childhood was filled with animals. Rabbits, fish, parakeets, dogs, and cats. And those were the ones we had for pets. But I’m really a dog person. My book’s dog, Ginger Rogers, didn’t get quite the billing as your dog Mo. I love Mo’s voice and his sweet personality, but Ginger is the old and crotchety type. She did take a shine to Uncle Raymond, who’s a bit crotchety himself actually.
Sarah: You know what makes me crotchety? Doing research! I prefer to make things up. The things I am most interested in writing about are kids and animals, and of course things that make me laugh or cry—or better yet, laugh and then cry.
Augusta: Since I write historical fiction, I’d better love the research part. Hey, I’m a librarian, what can I say? For my first novel, Glory Be, I did a ton of research about Freedom Summer. While writing The Way to Stay in Destiny, I spent a lot of time fact-checking dates, prices, and baseball records.
Sarah: I love baseball—especially Little League games! Before we sign off I just want to mention that in addition to Honey, I have a new picture book out called Glamourpuss. It’s about a narcissistic cat who thinks so highly of herself that instead of saying meow, she shortens it to just “Me!” David Small illustrated—lucky me! Nice chatting with you, Augusta Scattergood.
Augusta: You too, Sarah Weeks!