Last month, you may recall, I asked for suggestions for my upcoming herione’s name. There were lots of great ones – thank you very much. She turned out to be Eleanor, called Nell, thanks to Mary Preston.
This month, I thought I would share with you an ongoing discussion I had with the marvelous Anne Gracie about names for heroes. This began when she started writing her Brides series with The Autumn Bride and wanted to call her hero Charles.
I have no big problem with Charles. I wrote about a hero called Charlie myself. But Charles sounds sort of bland to me. Especially for the man she was writing about.
Anne’s hero seemed edgier than a Charles, bigger than a Charles (my grandfather, Charles, was not a big man, so I have a precedent for the name). I suggested, pleaded, begged, sighed and moaned -- and eventually he became Max. He’s a wonderful Max. It’s a wonderful book.
And then she started on the second book, the one about Damaris, the Chance “sister” who came from China where her father had been a missionary. Damaris has pain and secrets and, above all, she needs a strong hero.
“So,” I said, “who’s this hero going to be?”
And Anne said, “You already know him. It’s Freddy.”
Freddy? I said. What kind of name is that for a hero?
The rest is history – and here is Anne to tell you about it:
Freddy? What kind of name is that for a hero?
That's what Anne McAllister told me a year ago when I first told her who the hero was going to be in the second book of my 'Chance sisters' series.
"Watch me," I told her.
Anne McA and I have been writing buddies for more than a dozen years. It started when I (an Australian) set a contemporary romantic comedy in Montana. Anne McAllister practically owns Montana. "Send me this story," she said. "I'd like to see an Aussie write about Montana."
I did. She liked it. She corrected a couple of small mistakes I'd made, and we've been good friends and writing buddies ever since. We email and talk on the phone, brainstorming and chatting, and we send each other bits to read and critique. We're respectful of each other's writing —we like each other's writing — but neither of us pulls our punches: if we think something doesn't work, we'll say so. You're no kind of writing friend if you pretend something works when it doesn't.
Which brings us back to my hero. "Freddy?" she said. "What kind of name is that for a hero?"
We generally agree on what kind of a hero we like. Strong, honorable, masterful, kind, often wounded deep down, but refusing to show it — that kind of hero. We've had disagreements on hero names before, and usually she's convinced me. Charles is not a hero name. And neither is Freddy.
Freddy, she insisted was a name for a secondary character, a lightweight, a frivolous, entertaining rattle.
And really, she's right. My Freddy is all of those things. I suspect his name was inspired by Georgette Heyer's Freddy in Cotillion.
My Freddy first makes an appearance as a secondary character in The Autumn Bride. He's an elegant, careless, frivolous rake, with a horror of marriage and muffins -- not the edible kind. In his own words:
"A muffin is dull, earnest, generally plain—though occasionally you’ll find one lurking behind a pretty face—and is bent on marrying a fellow and making his life a misery. Reforming him. Forcing him to do Good Works and attend Improving Talks.” He shuddered.
So he's not the strong, silent, tortured alpha kind of hero. He's very much the beta-type and is everything AMcA said a Freddy would be — an entertaining rattle who nobody takes too seriously. He's a frivolous rake who aims to stay that way.
As sole heir to his father's title and fortune, not to mention his own private fortune, he'd been a target for match-making mamas and daughters since he'd first appeared in society. From the beginning he'd made it clear he had no interest in marriage, and once he realized respectable mamas and daughters avoided rakes like the plague, he'd done his best to encourage his reputation as a rake to grow.
But in the last year or so his mother had apparently informed the mothers, aunts and grandmothers of every eligible female in the kingdom that he was contemplating marriage —she might as well have put a notice in The Gazette, curse her!—and as a result, wherever he went, muffins popped out of the woodwork.
He wasn't contemplating marriage, dammit! Not with anything other than horror.
And don't we know, as romance readers, that them's fightin' words. When a hero swears off marriage in the strongest terms, we just know he's heading for a fall — of the most delicious sort.
You can't have a hero called Freddy?
Just watch me.
The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie
coming April 1st 2014
So what do you prefer, the alpha kind of strong silent tough wounded hero? Or do you sometimes enjoy a change of pace with a beta guy? Who's your favorite beta-hero in romance?
Anne's giving away a copy of the Winter Bride to someone who leaves a comment
ps: Me, again. Anne McA. Just so you know – she pulled it off. Freddy is a magnificent hero. And yes, there will be a copy of Freddy’s book, The Winter Bride, for some lucky person who makes a comment. Will post here later this week who the winner is so you can get in touch with me. Thanks, all. And thank you to Anne Gracie – and Freddy!