On Names

I’ve always had an obsession with names and their meanings. Have you ever stopped to think about why names have meanings? This has been the way for thousands of years and yet most of us don’t seriously consider it when naming our own children. When my daughter finished reading all thirteen books of this series, she told me she will never look at names the same again.

Take the name Carter for instance. It means transporter of materials. I can’t help but wonder where that originated from or how it came about.

This fascination with names got me thinking. Our names follow us our entire lives. What if their meanings did also? When I started thinking through this concept, I only considered meanings such as happy or fortunate, but what about the names like Carter, or Kaine–which means spear? Then there’s Kari, which means ‘gust of wind.’ And what if the meanings of our names were linked to our entire identity?

With all of those thoughts lingering in my mind, I had a dream. A literal dream. About a group of kids, who on their sixteenth birthday had a renaming ceremony, where they found out their true names, names that were linked to special abilities that suddenly came to fruition.

From there I scoured names upon names, along with their meanings. I have read through thousands of names. Adding a new character was never a simple feat, but it was fruitful. From those lists, Matilda Seer was born – a strong fighter who sees visions and has dreams. After her, Ethan Shay came to life–someone with the ability to transform his appearance, whose strength is off the charts. Then there’s probably my favorite–Asher. His name means ‘happy,’ and though his demeanor doesn’t always lend to that, he has learned the nearly impossible task of remaining centered in joy, despite suffering terrible loss. And that makes him a formidable force. When Asher laughs, his enemy stumbles.

Just like my daughter, I hope after reading this series you never look at names the same way again. 

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On writing the Matilda Seer series

I used to think that before you wrote a book, you had to have the story all figured out ahead of time. I would write notes upon notes of story lines, and if I couldn’t figure it out perfectly, I would move onto another project assuming the idea wasn’t up to par. I can’t tell you how many projects I have wasting away in my computer that I’ve started but haven’t done anything with them. Part of my obsessive nature is the need to have everything figured out ahead of time, and that part of my personality wasn’t helping me in the writing process. That process may work for some writers, but it certainly wasn’t working for me.

Along with being a bit obsessive and organized, I’m also a feeler with a wild imagination, and I get my ideas in movie form while daydreaming. In needing to meticulously think out the plot (which is great for a script), I was ignoring a big part of the way I’m wired. So I moved onto a different tactic.

When I started this series I had a general idea of what it would be about. The characters needed to start out 16, their birthdays needed to be the same date (Dec 12th), and they all needed to receive new names that spoke to their new gifts/powers. I had no idea when I started writing why I chose Dec 12th, why none of the Chosen had come through the entrance in sixteen years, or anything else for that matter.

Normally, I would wait until I had it all figured out but this time, I decided to get to know my characters inside and out first. In doing so, I seriously fell in love with these characters. These characters became so real to me that I joked with my family that if I ever became senile, I would probably start asking for Ethan and Matilda. Instead of my mind going over plot and story lines, my head became filled with dialogue between characters. Why dialogue? Our speech reflects our personality. It’s so evident every time I hear my girls talk or tell a story, and that was a big way I got to know my characters. So when I would write a line I’d say, ‘No, that’s not Carter, Carter would say this.’

In getting to know my characters, they ended up writing the story for me. In doing so, this story tied together better than I could have done had I thought it through ahead of time. I never knew what I was going to write when my fingers hit the keyboard, and honestly sometimes I would panic because of it. But then I heard this still, small voice say, ‘Just put your hands on the keyboard and trust in what you’re creating.’ I’m so glad I listened. This process allowed me to engage in the wonder of the story unfolding as I wrote, as if I were reading it for the first time.

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