A tale of the two Jacks

To forestall the inevitable question: No, the main character in A WhiskeyJack in a Murder of Crows, named Jack, has nothing at all to do with the main character of Lucid Nightmares, also named Jack. This is something that just happened, and it is kind of hard to explain. Some characters seem to take on a life of their own and develop their own personalities and sensibilities and, yes, even names sometimes. Both of these guys were Jacks. It just happened. No I won’t let it happen again. In all honesty, I never want to type the name Jack again as my fingers seem unable to avoid capitalizing the ‘a’ and then I have to backspace and retype every time. So every time you see that name, realize it actually took me ten keystrokes to type it almost every single time. I hope to never use a name starting with ‘Ja’ again. I just can’t get my pinky finger off the shift key before my other pinky hits that ‘a’.


I was asked for a bit more explanation on the whole ‘it is kind of hard to explain’ comment above. Okay. Here goes.

It had a lot to do with how I get ideas for stories.

Some, like Lucid Nightmares, I had the story but  the name changed a few times. (I tried Lucid Dreams but it was too serene. Then came Within the Demon Without, but that one is a little hard to follow and only makes sense in the second half of the third book.)

Others, the title is the idea. ‘A WhiskeyJack in a Murder of Crows’ started out as a great phrase I really liked, so I had to come up with a story that fit it. My original idea was a Fish and Game Warden, on the verge of retirement, about to be let go due to budget cuts, and his last big adventure in the mountains searching for a lost child. That story never really popped for me. And then, one day standing on a dock watching the lake at sunrise, the phrase ‘how long does it take to die?’ floated through my mind, breaking the calm serenity around me. That was when the story of Jack’s little girl came into existence, changing the whole original idea I’d had.

So anyway, Jack Hooper, from Lucid Nightmares, had been named Jack long before Jack Tabor, from WhiskeyJack, came along. I had to keep the title A WhiskeyJack in a Murder of Crows. I just had to. I like it. Which meant my main character needed to be a Jack. So I considered changing Jack Hooper’s name. But I couldn’t. It was his name.

In the process of writing a story, some characters become, for lack of a better way of explaining, ‘real’. They start to dictate their own outcome; they tell you what they are going to do. Once that happened with Jack Hooper, I couldn’t strip his name away, I couldn’t ‘de-humanize’ him again. I cared about him

So there are two Jacks.

And I still had to use ten keystrokes nearly every time I just typed Jack. Except that very last one there… isn’t that ironic.


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