Thursday, September 20, 2012

What's in a Name, by Guest Blogger Michael J. McDonald

I always wanted a cool name. Interesting, mysterious people seem to always have cool names. Or is it their cool names that make them interesting and mysterious? Having something approaching Asperger’s syndrome (complete with glasses, a derth of social graces and obsessive Star Wars fandom) I grew up with a tactile relationship with language. Words had shapes and textures and tastes (and colours, but that probably won’t make sense to anybody else). Some words felt tough, rocky, like a brick, while others slipped and rippled over the tongue like silk.
 
I would have loved a strong name that lingered in the mouth, that you could really feel as it ran between your teeth. Interesting, mysterious characters in books and on TV always seemed to have those kind of names: Captain Picard, sharp consonants forcing a proper, disciplined enunciation that stood so appropriately for the man himself; Milady D’Winter, a rising and falling singsong of a name, with the stiff stab of a hard constant buried in the middle and hinting at her treacherous nature.
Writers, too, seem to benefit from a strong moniker. Stephen King is a name that hits the ear like a book slammed onto a desk. An obnoxiously thick book, usually. J.K. Rowling sounds like an author who isn’t kidding around. And then there’s me, with one of the most common first names in the English-speaking world and a surname associated with scary clowns and French fries.
Hopefully my plain-Jane-name will not constitute too much of a handicap in getting noticed in the stormy seas of publishing. I do on occasion think of taking up a nom de plume, but having been previously published in a few places, I’d rather not divorce myself from that past. Besides, I kind of like my name, dull as it is. It also provides the impetus to provide my characters with names that stand out themselves, names that ring with their own traits and give a taste, so to speak, of just who that person is. In my novel UnderWorld, recently published on Smashwords, we meet a cast of characters thrust into a dystopian steampunk civilisation, forced underground by the poisons left behind by powerful weapons of war. Mathilda, a servant to the royal family of Liberi, finds herself at ground zero of the Great Calamity that sparked the deadly conflict, and as a survivor learns that she possesses a power to heal and protect the ones she loves. This power passes to her daughter, Nikana, who is raised in the regimented drudgery of the UnderWorld, always dreaming of seeing the sun. Despising school and withdrawn from her peers, she eventually runs from the oppressive tedium and the constant, watchful gaze of Doctor White, reaching a door that leaks the golden light of day. Nikana yearns to break loose, but hell follows with her.
Michael J. McDonald's Bio: Writer, reader, ranter; Michael J. McDonald likes an eclectic range of things, but not bananas. He started writing stories before he could write by hand, sticking printed words together to form the sentences in his first days of school, then bothering the teacher to print off more so he could complete his epic. Things have come full circle, as due to injury he finds himself again unable to write by hand, but thanks to the magic box on his desk his prose continues to flow. Unless somebody is wrong on a forum.

Being a grumpy misanthropist with a cane leads to a particularly disillusioned undercurrent in his writing, but it's not all doom and gloom. Sometimes he lets most of the characters live. Though sometimes they'll wish they didn't. Michael has been published by Quantum Muse magazine, Wherever It Pleases e-zine, Books To Go Now and the University of Glasgow Student Association. He is currently working on a sequel to Underworld and a more adult novel that is a cheerful story of teen angst, rebellion and death.
Please feel Free to Check out More about Michael J. McDonald:
Underworld at Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/233944