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Oakdale Confidential:
An As The World Turns Novel

Monday, April 10, 2006


In addition to being a ghostwriter, with “Oakdale Confidential,” I am also a tie-in writer, since the book is officially sanctioned and inspired by the soap opera, As The World Turns.

The issue I want to talk about today is one unique to tie-in writers, and that is the matter of more or less having your hands tied when it comes to naming your characters. (I realize that people who write historicals and ethnic novels are also hindered a bit by circumstances, as there were few heroines named Brittany in 15th Century China, but those aren’t the kind of limitations I’m talking about here).

Since, with tie-ins, you aren’t working with a clean slate, the leads are most often already named for you. In “Oakdale Confidential,” the three main heroines are named Katie, Carly, and Maddie.

Nothing wrong with those names in and of themselves except…

In books that I write under my own name (or actually, one of my many pen names), I try very, very hard not to have several names that end in the same sound (Kay-Tee, Car-Lee, Ma-Dee). It’s confusing for the reader to figure out who is who.

I also, for the same reason, try not to start two names with the same letter. Or the same sound. Like, say, Carly and Katie.

And then there was the issue of the dead guy’s name. Since he was my creation, I got to pick his name. So I called him Gregory Martin. It was a good, solid, all-American name. Who could take issue with a name like Gregory Martin?

As The World Turns could. Rival soap, All My Children, has a Martin family. No go. Think of something else.

For the next draft, I called the victim Gregory Madden.

And a week later, All My Children introduced an evil doctor named… Greg Madden. (I swear, maybe I’m paranoid, but someone from that show is out to get me).

So he became Gregory Marron. But, by that point, I’m sure my editor at Pocket thought I was some kind of schizophrenic.


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