Behind the Names in SUN NIGHT


The process of giving pseudonyms to real characters in SUN NIGHT was actually not as easy as one might think.  I knew deep inside that the names used while writing the manuscript would not be the ones I would end up keeping.  They just didn't fit the mold the characters were made out of. 

To be honest, I was not sure what names to use for the boys, the protagonists, and I went back and forth with different options.  A possible pair of names included Sandro (Botticelli) and Pietro (Perugino), in honor of my favorite artists of the renaissance.  I finally landed on Santiago and Sebastian.  It was not just accidental, as I originally had thought.  My subconscious constantly plays games with my present mind.  "It" has guided me throughout all my creative visual career to make design decisions based on its vast library of experiences.  In the same way, "It" has also guided me through the process of writing this book and the naming of the characters as I came to find out later. 

The reason I tell you this is because when I named the boys Sebastian and Santiago, my present mind was telling me that they were similarly sounding names, three syllables long, both starting with the letter S.  No connection to anything in my past, I thought.  A few days later, my present mind finally caught up with what my subconscious was trying to tell me about these names.  They actually came from previous deep rooted past experiences.  Some of the most beautiful and lasting memories I have, come from vacations I have taken with my spouse throughout our 23 years of marriage.  We are avid cruise travelers.  For my 49th birthday, we went on a wine cruise where we were able to visit Santiago de Compostela and San Sebastian in Spain among other places. 

San Sebastian actually has a much deeper meaning to me because it was one of the places I traveled at 18 years of age, my first trip ever to Europe.  The famous shell shaped beach in San Sebastian was empty, after all it was winter time, but seeing such a beautiful place left a huge subconscious memory burned in my brain forever.

Santiago de Compostela came to mean a little more to me as I grew older when I was able to appreciate the meaning of the pilgrimage to this place. The medieval architecture and presence of the cathedral that is believed to hold the remains of St. James, also carved a place in my long list of important memories.  I named my brother Santiago to honor the Catholic religion we grew up to believe in.

Another interesting name story I'd like to share with you is our mother's name in the book.  When I started writing the manuscript, I had an innate need to name her Elle.  Not sure why or where this was coming from, but trusted my subconscious would allow me to understand this later.  As I wrote the final chapters of the book, I felt that calling my mother Elle was not correct because she is not Anglo-American.  The only idea I could connect it with is that she was an English teacher.  It took several months until I was wrapping the final pages of the book that I had the Aha! moment.  When my brother and I were little, our parents opened a little gift store called "Regalos Michelle".  As a child, I really didn't understand or question some of the why's behind things, so it never occurred to me or my brother why our parents would name the store Michelle.  It was not until a few years later, that I came to find out that Michelle was the name my mother would have wanted to name a child if she ever had a daughter.  Sadly, she wasn't able to have any more children after my brother was born, her wish of having a daughter never came true.  To honor her dream, I've named her Michelle.

Beside character names, I also took some liberties with character development.  Aunt Justine, for example is not one person alone in my real life but a combination of family members and stories.  Cousin Camilla in the book is one of my closest cousins in real life.  Granny Blanche is probably the closest name to reality in the whole book.  My real grand mother's name was Blanca, a popular Spanish name.  My grand mother always gave me the feeling of being a world traveler because of her personality, therefore I named her Blanche to give her more of an International flare.