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Wednesday, March 7, 2012
It's my pleasure to introduce you to my guest author this week, Amy Cross, here today on A Darker Passion! Her first in her Dark Season series, The Last Vampire, is one of eight books in the series.

When Sophie Hart is rescued from a mugging by a mysterious, silent vampire, she discovers that she is part of a dark prophecy. Patrick is the last vampire on Earth, having killed the rest of his species at the end of a bloody war, and he has plans for Sophie. But will she survive?

This volume collects the first 8 Dark Season books, covering the entire first series. Along the way, Sophie encounters not only a vampire but also werewolves, ghosts, evil maids with sharp teeth, crazed psychiatrists and dream-sucking Tenderlings. She travels to Gothos, the ancestral home of the vampires. She discovers a secret hidden inside the body of an old woman, and later she finds another dark secret hidden inside her own body.

Grab your free copy of Dark Season The Last Vampire here!

Hello! First, I want to thank Adriann for asking me to write something for her great blog. I've never written a guest post on someone else's blog before, so I'm kind of nervous. What if I break it? How many words does Adriann want? Does she want something wise? I'm not very wise! Does she want something insightful about the writing process? I'm not very insightful. Does she want something funny? Oh dear, this could be awkward... I'm quite a good speller, though, and I'm persistent. I'll try to bring these two qualities to today's guest post!

I'm going to talk about character names. While I was trying to work out what to write about for this guest post, I was facing a separate problem: I couldn't come up with a name for a character in a book I'm working on at the moment. If you read my books, you'll know that I rarely describe my characters' physical appearance, unless there's something really important I have to mention. If Mr. X has an eyepatch, I'll mention it. If Mr. Y has mousey blonde hair, I'll probably let it slide. So for me the names are more important than the characters' appearances, and I can't get started on a book unless I get the names right. Sophie and Patrick are the stars of 'Dark Season', but if I'd named then Bob and Sue the whole series would probably have been very different.

 Anyway, I figured I'd write something here about character names. I think character names are hugely important. Some people might say that's superficial, that what's important are the themes, the narrative, the structure and so on. That's kind of true, but character names are vital too. Imagine the 'Harry Potter' series if Harry had been named George Smith, or the James Bond franchise if the main character was named Dave. Names tell us something about people, and they define people too. My name is Amy. I grew up with people saying Amy to me a lot. It's a light two-syllable name. If I'd grown up as Gertrude, with people saying Gertrude to me all the time, I think I'd be a different person.

Side note: This reminds me of a scene in the film 'Gentlemen Broncos'. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It's by the people who made 'Napoleon Dynamite', and it's brilliant. It's about a guy who writes a book that gets plagiarized by a sci-fi author. There's a scene where the author talks about the importance of character names. Of course, he gets it all completely wrong. Seriously: funniest film I've seen in years.

Anyway, back to the subject. Character names. Yes. Hugely important. Even a slight change can be huge. 'Oliver Twist' sounds like a book about a kid escaping from a workhouse; 'Olivier Twist' doesn't. But while character names are very important, inspiration can come from anywhere, and sometimes the stories behind character names are very surprising. So here, for the first time, I'm going to admit where I got the names for the main characters in 'Dark Season':

Patrick – I immediately imagined Patrick as a kind of brooding, dark anti-hero. Someone with a hint of danger, someone who'd (probably) come good (kind of) (maybe) in the end. I'd recently been watching (don't judge me) some 'Days of Our Lives' re-runs and happened to spot the character of Patrick Lockhart. So that's where I got the name Patrick from, although I never imagined Patrick looking like the guy from 'Days of Our Lives'.

Sophie – This is more complicated. Some names have huge literary significance. For example, the name Alice immediately makes most people think of 'Alice in Wonderland'. The name Cathy makes many people (well, me at least) think of 'Wuthering Heights'. I've always liked the name Sophie, and I've always felt like there's never been a definitive literary Sophie. In other words, I felt the name wasn't claimed by another author. So I took it. Then I remembered the book 'Sophie's Choice'. Oh well...

Vincent – I remember reading an article about the making of the old sitcom 'Newsradio' (seriously, this is the kind of thing I do with my spare time), which mentioned that the character Matthew was the kind of person who insisted on always being called Matthew rather than shortening his name to Matt. I wanted something similar for Patrick's father. The fact that Vincent doesn't shorten his own name to Vince says something about him, I think. Plus, I have a very calm, very smart friend called Vincent and the name seemed like a natural fit.

Shelley – Like I said, I usually think long and hard about the names of my characters. But this time, the name Shelley just popped into my head. I thought “No, there are no teenage girls around today named Shelley”. I planned to change it. Then I forgot. Then it stuck. I liked the idea of this goofy, messed-up girl with such a traditional name. Oh, and Shelley is very important in the 'Dark Season' story. Very, very important. She might seem like a side character, but if you've read 'Dead End', you'll have seen a glimpse. By the very end of the whole saga (which I have all planned out), Shelley will be as important as Sophie.

So there you go. The true story of how 'Days of Our Lives', 'Newsradio' and 'Alice in Wonderland' (sort of) inspired the character names in 'Dark Season'. And writing all of this has helped me with my original problem: I now have a name for the character in the book I'm writing at the moment. I'm going to call him Henry. A nice, simple name that sounds a little old-fashioned and perhaps a little 'safe'. But I like that contrast, because Henry is going to pop up in one of the 'Lupine Howl' books I'm writing at the moment, and he's going to be neither old-fashioned or 'safe'. Henry is going to be a terrible person. Now that I have named him Henry, I have no excuse. I must get back to writing the book.

Well, I have to go now. My dog has just walked into the room, looking like he wants to go for a walk. His name is Barney. That's a good name for him, it makes him sound friendly and good-natured, which is exactly what he's like. I can't help thinking that if his name was Brandon, he'd be a very different dog. So thanks again for letting me waffle on about names here, it's been fun and it's been an excellent distraction from the latest book I'm writing!

Amy Cross is a British writer of paranormal and horror fiction, though she occasionally strays genres.

To grab the full series of Dark Season (8 books) visit http://amzn.to/yumq6R You can also get more info on Amy and her plethora of great books @ http://amycrossbooks.wordpress.com/

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