Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lorabeth and Hedda

Where did you get your inspiration for Lorabeth and Hedda and how did you choose their names?

Wow, my first Formspring question! Thank you for asking, dear anonymous reader! I'm excited to answer. For anyone who reads my blog, and not so much my Figment work, this question is in regards to my newest project on Figment, a serial novel called Boys and Bees.

Lorabeth Frisch 

When I'm writing about Lorabeth, I do imagine her looking something like actress Hailee Steinfeld. There's a wildness about her hair (looks like it could hold twigs) and an unconventional kind of beauty about her.

Even though the first chapter of my serial novel, Boys and Bees, starts off with the angle of examining Hedda, the story began when I created my true main character, Lorabeth. I've always had a love for mori girls, a kind of woodland-inspired fashion trend created in Japan. To me, my main character had to be a little wild, untamed, but still lovable. I looked at a lot of old vintage photos of little girls with snarled hair and rumbled dresses and was, in part, inspired by the description of the little girl in one of William Wordsworth's poems called "We Are Seven." He writes:

"She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad;
Her eyes were fair, and very fair,
Her beauty made me glad."

Usually my characters are pretty straight-laced, always doing their homework and making sure they're on time for appointments. So I wanted to do something different with Lorabeth by trying to make her a slacker, haha. Lorabeth is a very determined girl but has a one-track mind: training her bees is what matters to her the most and anything that gets in her way is nothing more than a useless distraction. In that way, she's a oddball for sure, but it makes writing about her a very fun and interesting experience. 

Lorabeth's relations with her parents - the lion-tamer father and gardener mother - will come about later in the story and will hopefully shed some light on where she picked up on some of those traits, haha. 

Finding a name for Lorabeth was tough. I didn't want to give her name that sounded too dreamy or feminine. I usually search through popular names starting from the Victorian Era and on - rarely do I pick names that are popular now - unless they happened to show up in other lists, as most names do. I happened upon a website that listed popular nicknames for boys and girls, and that's how I found, buried in the L's, the name Lorabeth. 

There is no actually name meaning for Lorabeth, but it is a combination of two existing ones: Lora means "laurel" and Beth means "house." It will be interesting to see how these two meanings will collide or if, perhaps, she develops a preference for one of them. 

Hedda Sparling

Dakota Fanning is, in a way, how I imagine Hedda to look. Hedda is a pale beauty with a round face and luminous eyes. I think Dakota, especially in this photo, embodies that kind of energy :)

The story of Boys and Bees begins with love letters - and someone had to read them. Hedda was born from this need. However, she quickly stood on her own as a mysterious and alluring girl... with something to hide. Well, it took me a while to find out what that secret was. I couldn't pry it from her. "Okay," I had thought. "This girl has a secret. Fine. I'll let her have it."

 Hedda's secret, within a chapter or two of writing, finally became clear; I can't wait to fill you in on it when the time comes in the story.

Again, like with Lorabeth, I hadn't yet written about a popular girl. I like teen school movies as much as the next person (Mean Girls being my favorite), but I never created my own set of Plastics before. Nor did I do it here. I fleshed Hedda's character out and realized that she'd never be flat like that - her father's influence, along with her secret, plus those constant love letters from boys, created a potent character that has a lot more layers than I first expected. Hedda Sparling may be the popular girl, but she's not happy with what that actually means. 

She teams up with Lorabeth because she shares a deep love for the school - and I'm sure, along the way, she'll reveal more of herself to the readers. 

When it came to her name, I didn't think about meaning. I came across "Hedda" and it stuck. Simple as that. For the purpose of answering the question fully, I looked up the meaning: "contention" or "strife." Wow. How perfect, haha. 

Questions For You...

How do you imagine Lorabeth and Hedda when you read Boys and Bees? When it comes to naming characters, what is your process?


  1. 1) How I imagined Lorabeth and Hedda. Both pale, like British girls. Pale, as they are not exposed to the sun much, always covered in grey clouds. I think you know what I mean. Hence your choice of actresses was well done, both pale. Also I pictured them with long hair, again which both actresses have. Dakota Fanning's blonde golden hair looks like a flame .... I pictured Hedda with long blonde hair but not quite like that, I guess more straight and trim, reflecting her cold heart; she would make her hair straight. As for Lorabeth, I think I pictured her hair being just a tad more curly but other than that, your choice was how I pictured her.

    2) How do I name characters .... hrm. Depends on the story, the characters, what I'm trying to convey ... If I want to make the character like everyone else, I'll give a common name like Jack. If I want to separate the character out, I pick something unusual, but not too crazy, something memorable. I also try to pick a name that reflects something of their character. Sometimes I just rip off names from Greek mythology, or Norse or Arabian or medieval tales, but even then, if I borrow a name from somewhere for a character of mine, that character usually is like their mythological namesake.

    Hope that helps. =)

    1. Ah, yes, the paleness. I totally agree. The Hedda of my head does have straight hair, just as you say - but you wouldn't believe how plain all the photos of straight-haired Dakota were! I searched through so many... and I jut couldn't cave to get that detail correct, haha.

      I like what you said concerning your naming choices. I usually don't like to use common names... but it's so much fun to create a strong character that is able to add some life to it, you know? And, yes, it's so much fun to go back to myths and legends for names :D

  2. I imagined Lorabeth with really, really tangly hair and a lot of bees surrounding her and in her sweater. I imagined Hedda as having a not smiling but not frowning face and with a ponytail that was very close together and a light colored blonde hair with brown spots in it, like a banana. But not banana yellow blonde, like banana with ice chunks finely covering it and making it light colored.
    Naming characters: I will make someone tell me names and then I'll go like "That's the one!" Or I'll name them with a name that matches a personality ie:
    Isabelle is fancy and removed from a group...
    Charlotte is shy but really friendly once you get to know her.
    Kimmie would be silly and a girl that likes to spy on people and giggle about what she sees.

    1. Yes! Really tangly hair. I'm so there with you. That photo doesn't even begin to represent Lorabeth's nest of crazy hair! Oh, I like what you said about Hedda's brown spots in her hair - like the banana, haha.

      Those are some good strategies with naming! I love the examples you gave; especially Kimmie. I suppose it's not surprising, but that's an old nickname of mine. Although I'm a quiet person, I do giggle and grin (to myself) about what I see each day. You're not far off in finding matching the right names and personalities :D

  3. Oh sweetling, I truly don't think that you know just how much I admire you! You have such creativity and immense talent flowing through your veins. You give me something to strive for, how I wish we could sit down for tea one day and I could ask you everything under the sun. I hope that one day I can write the way you do! I know I will be seeing your stories on the shelves in every bookstore in no time at all.


    1. Waaah, Jhordyn, you're making me blush! :D

      I would love to have to tea with you someday! I imagine a little wooden table covered in lace with a floral tea set and biscuits on top. We'd be overlooking a lake and a forest, for sure. Your blog posts have inspired me so much - I love the strings of images that you had gathered, like a pearl necklace; it was fun to examine each sentence for it hidden meanings and beauty :)

  4. These are awesome pictures. Your descriptions of Hedda and Lorabeth are so clear that I'm not surprised by your actress choices. :)

    1. Thanks! It took a long time to find just the right photos, but the actresses fit so well in my head - and that's certainly not the case in my past experience. I'm glad that Hailee and Dakota match up with what you imagined too :D

  5. Now I'm really excited to start reading Boys and Bees! I would start today, but two computer chargers died this week so my mother, brother, and I have to share one charger between us which means limited computer time, and we all have cruddy batteries. ANYHOW. When it is rectified, I am going to read it!

    I loved reading about your inspiration, even thought I'm not acquainted with these characters yet. :)

    My process for naming characters is... uhhhh. I don't even know. I'll just start calling a character something and then it sticks. A lot of my characters (in short stories) don't even have names.

    (P.S. - I have tumblr now! I'm following you and have been watching you update all day, so I figured I should stop lurking in the shadows now. ;) Link:

    1. Oh man, I had that happen to me! You don't know how important chargers are until they fizzle out on you. That was a terrible time, haha. Oh, that's so exciting that you're going to read it. I'm always glowing when I hear your impressions on my writing :)

      I'm amazed at how well you characterize your nameless characters (by what I read on your blog). I think that takes a lot of skill.Names that stick are the best. I hate wrestling with it sometimes - I think characters often just tell you their names... but some aren't so obliging, haha.

      Yay, you're on tumblr! Welcome to the club, haha. I'm warning you - I reblog way too much. I think it's become a source of relaxation and inspiration for me... so much so that I'm on there procrastinating :P

  6. 'Lorabeth' reminds me of some Celtic princess, which fits with Wordsworth's poem a bit :)

  7. I adore what you say about Hedda being multi layered and how, and they seem like such characters, (I'll get onto reading B & B! I wonder if it'll live up to the bloody brilliant BG though hahaha).

    Thanks for the post,
    Ghost Reader ala Harry