Attributions, or names, is the starting point for my A to Z April 2012 Challenge. I thought it would be a good opportunity to give you background to the Princelings world.
My heroes, Fred and George, for example. Someone asked why my heroes are named after J K Rowling characters. They aren’t, they are named after my guinea pigs. Nearly all the characters are named after guinea pigs, either mine or my friends’. I have a lot of online friends with guinea pigs, mostly at the Rodents with Attitude forum, and occasionally a rabbit or someone else creeps in there (like the conures who give their names to the tavern at Wash, The Cheeky Parrot).
There are quite a few guinea pigs called Fred. Even more called George, or so it seems. And a huge number called Harry, sometimes within the same household. Fred and George were my first pets, and my total inspiration for their world in these stories.
So how do some of the other names come about? Prince Lupin of Buckmore is named for a delightful chap called Lupin-Buckmore. His parents were Harry Potter fans too, so undoubtedly the Lupin is inspired by a well known werewolf. His mystery lady Nimrod was one of his lady friends. Their owners also name their pigs after aeroplanes. So Nimrod is a lady despite the origin of the name being a hunter in Greek myth. I rather enjoyed calling her the Energy Hunter in the first book! Baden and his brother Robert originate from Castle Powell. They belonged to the same friends, and of course are dedicated to the inventor of the Scout Movement.
Other literary characters appear from time to time, although sometimes disguised. Gandy is Victor’s assistant and that is short for Gandalf but his owner always shortened it. There was a Frodo and a Bailey in the same household and Bailey found his way into the later books. Victor and Hugo are my pigs, Hugo came with his name, it suited him perfectly and I changed Vic’s to Victor for the literary connection. Mariusz, his alter ego in the stories, really was his double, but lived in New York. He was named for Mariusz Pudzianowski, former World Strongest Man. Very fitting.
Haggis and Neeps are two of my Rifle Company, modelled on Bernard Cornwell’s 95th of course. Haggis makes a nice allusion to Harris and Hagman, my two favourite characters in the Sharpe books, but the real Haggis and Neeps live in a nice house in Scotland. How Neeps came to be a cockney in my books I have no idea.
Why are there so few females in the books? I suppose it starts because I have only male guinea pigs, and maybe I take more notice of them. The ladies that do appear are mostly owned by friends, Kira, Jess, Jupiter, Amelia, Nimrod. Some names come from other sources. Raven (in book 4) was simply mentioned by rodentologist Zoe when she was dealing with George’s teeth and it sounded like a good name. Nerys was the sister to Kira because of Deep Space Nine. Molly (Fred & George’s mother) was my mother’s nickname. I think most of the ladies of Arbor have names derived from pets but I can’t remember now. Io is a satellite of Jupiter and I wanted to reflect that Arbor is a reflected pattern of Buckmore, where Jupiter ran the tavern, so Io runs it at Arbor.
Some of my favourite characters, Lord Smallweed, Lord Darcy, Pogo, Willow and Uncle Vlad all come from the same home, and were delightful chaps that I had the pleasure of meeting. I apologise for making Mr Smallweed the villainous, or merely small-minded character that the Lord is, but someone has to be a baddie!
So for the most part my guinea pig friends provide my inspiration in more than one way. Many times their characters in the books reflect their traits as described by their owners but the characterisation is mine alone. If it is too anthropomorphic for you, I apologise.