WHERE’D YOU GET A NAME LIKE THAT? — Terri Wangard
I’m excited to welcome author Terri Wangard today as she talks about finding the perfect names for her characters. Read through to the end and find out how to enter to win a free copy of No Neutral Ground.
WHERE’D YOU GET A NAME LIKE THAT?
My WWII series Promise For Tomorrow features large casts of characters in all three books, so I had to come up with lots of names. In the first book, Friends & Enemies, the main female character lives in Germany. That meant I needed German given names and surnames. The last names were easy. With three quarters of German ancestry, I had plenty of selections to pick from my family tree.
Of the six main Promise characters, only Jennie Lindquist in No Neutral Ground does not have one of my family names. She required a Swedish surname, and I have no Swedish ancestry.
Cemeteries are a good place for me to find era-appropriate given names. I first spelled Jennie’s name with a –y, but changed it after seeing the –ie on tombstones. For all the airmen at Ridgewell Air Base, a base roster offered plenty of WWII possibilities, like Herb, Harold, Willard, Homer, and Clyde.
Deciding on names I like is important for the main characters, because I’ll be living with them for at least a year as the writing is in progress, and beyond once the book is published.
Some names are strictly for fun. I didn’t tell a friend I’d used her maiden name in No Neutral Ground, or her married name in Soar Like Eagles. When my next book, Wheresoever They May Be, releases late in August, she’ll find another surprise. Harry Wilson is named after her two dachshunds, Wilson and Harrison.
Wheresoever is unique in that I didn’t use family names. Instead, I turned to television. The 1960s TV series, 12 O’Clock High, featured B-17s and was a big help when I wrote my series. The episode “Decoy” showed a ditching and how the Gibson Girl radio was used to signal for help. The first base commander was Frank Savage, followed by Joe Gallagher. My two main male characters in Wheresoever are Frank Swanson and Joe Gallagher.
The chaplain in the Promise For Tomorrow series is Kyle Hogan. Yes, he got his name from Hogan’s Heroes. I’ve also used Newkirk from that show, but don’t remember which book. That’s the problem with casts of dozens.
In my work in progress, I wanted a name I’d easily remember for the main character’s boss. A former boss of mine is named Marley S. The fictional boss is Martin Sopard. The surname is my boss’ name with a slight alteration.
For two Irishmen, I scrolled through an Irish names website and chose Burke and Caffrey. For a chance to win a first edition copy of No Neutral Ground, name the TV show where I found those names.
(*Author will send print book if winner lives in the U.S. and an ebook copy if an international reader wins.)
About No Neutral Ground
Germany rejected him. America took him in. Now he’s back, at war with his homeland and his father, who turned his back.
After his father divorces his mother because of her Jewish ancestry, Rafe and the rest of his family flee Germany. As a B-17 navigator, he returns to Europe. On the ocean voyage, he meets Jennie, an artist journeying to Sweden to work with the OSS.
Flying missions against his former homeland arouses emotions that surprise Rafe. Despite being rejected, he is troubled by the destruction of Germany and his heart still cries for his father’s love.
Sweden may be neutral, but it’s full of intrigue. Jennie assists the OSS at the American legation in Sweden. She thought she’d be doing passive, behind-the-scenes work. Instead, she’s pushed into an active role to gain intelligence and frustrate the Germans.
How can Rafe and Jennie succeed in their dangerous roles when they are so conflicted?
Terri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor.