Entries in A Metaphor is like a simile (83)

Tuesday
Sep102013

Stranger than Fiction Redux

I posted the following a few years back, but I think it bears repeating:
While cleaning up my genealogy files last night, I was struck by a number of...interesting names on my family tree. When I write, naming my characters takes a lot of time and thought. I want the names to be distinctive, so that the reader can keep everyone clear in his/her head, but I don't want them to be so distracting that they pull the reader out of the story.
But I'd have to be writing something in the John Irving/Richard Brautigan vein in order to pull off anything close to the names of some of my august forbears. I've put some of the weirdest into loose categories below for your enjoyment.

 

From the British Isles (yes, they certainly do sound like spammers' pseudonyms):
Gotham Howe
Gillachomhghaill O'Toole
Onesiphorus Tileston
Mabilia Talesmache
Benedicta Shelving
Gwair ap Pill
Rollo Bigod
Theopharcia Baliol
John MacHell

 

Scandinavia (Tolkien didn't work in a vacuum):
Frosti Karasson
Eyfuru Svaflamasdatter
Gandalf Alfgeirsson
Frodi Frodasson

 

The American Frontier:
Catherine Vandeventer-Turnipseed
Josnorum Scoenonti Running Deer
Polly Pickle
Thomasine Lumpkin

 

Elsewhere in Europe:
Burkhard von Schweinfurt
Gundreda Monasteriis
Aubrey de Mello
Adam Moomaw
Hienrich von Krickenbeck

 

Finally, Those Wacky Puritans:
Constantia Coffin
Thankful Sprout
Deliverance Nutting
Wealthy Blood
Including my personal favorite:
Preserved Fish
Poor Preserved. I presume that his name was shorthand for "Preserved by the hand of the Lord." Maybe Mrs. Fish almost died in childbed, or something like that. Her maiden name was Grizzel Strange, by the way, so you'd think that she'd be sensitive on the naming issue. Or perhaps her name and that of her son's didn't sound odd at all to 17th-century ears.

 

Oh, well; I guess when it comes right down to it, it's a heck of a lot easier researching folks like Preserved than yet another John Carter or Mary White. And it certainly keeps me smiling.

Tuesday
Aug132013

Exercise, Discipline, and Affection

I wrote my monthly Mommy Authors post on how The Dog Whisperer can help struggling writers. Give it a read!

Thursday
Aug082013

August Insanity

There's a new bracket in town, and Dispirited has been chosen for its cage match potential! 

 

 

Over at Dawning of a Brighter Day, James Goldberg has put together a Mormon literature promotion that looks like the most fun I've had online in a good long while. Dispirited has been included, and I could not be happier.

You'll see that Dispirited is up against Added Upon, the best-known work of MoLit pioneer Nephi Anderson. I read Added Upon for the first time when I was about ten. It had a huge influence on me, as it has many other LDS writers and our culture in general. So, yeah. My novel doesn't stand a chance. 

But who cares if my book is the sixteenth seed? Just to be on the same bracket with so many MoLit books/plays I love is pretty darn cool.

What will my own bracket look like? I have no idea, not yet. Do I go with nostalgia/impact, or do I opt for more recent treasures? How to choose? I must ponder. At length.

Let the betting begin!

Thursday
Jul182013

Lowly Seraphim

Some people may tell you that the short story is out of vogue, but I'm here to argue that the pendulum is swinging the other way once again. Short fiction is the new black. On the cusp of its renewed cool is Mark Penny, founder of Lowly Seraphim, a Mormon Speculative Fiction e-Collective. Some really smart, talented writers have posted stories, and I just put one up myself. (An earlier version of it was published in the anthology Candlelight, Volume III.) See what you think.
Thursday
Jun132013

The Princess and the Diplomat

 

A long time ago, someone asked me if I'd ever Googled myself. I hadn't, but immediately tried it. Imagine my surprise to encounter another Luisa Perkins among the results.

Well, her name wasn't exactly the same as mine; it was Maria Luisa Perkins y de Pablo, and she was listed on a site that records the genealogies of European royalty. I had to know more. 

I followed Maria Luisa's family tree back a couple of generations, and discovered that her grandfather was Charles Allen Perkins (a distant cousin of my husband's), born in Salisbury, Connecticut in 1840 to Jehiel Perkins and Alethia Northrop--and that Maria Luisa's grandmother was Maria Francisca Isabel Gurowska y de Bourbon.

How had a boy from Litchfield County ended up marrying the granddaughter of King Charles IV of Spain

It turns out that Charles grew up in privileged circumstances. He went to school in Paris and later worked in a Parisian bank. After coming back to the States, he worked for a time for the New York Stock Exchange. After that, he was appointed to consulates in Sweden and in Spain, and was finally promoted to the position of private secretary to Colonel Charles Hance Lewis, the U.S. Minister to Portugal.

The Spanish government was in upheaval at the time, so the Spanish royal family lived in exile all over Europe. Though she had been born in Paris, Isabel and her family lived for most of her life with royal relatives in Portugal. It was in Lisbon that Charles met Isabel, and they fell in love. They had to get special dispensation from the Pope to get married, and did so in 1870 in the French Roman Catholic Church of St. Louis. (Curiously, they were also married aboard the American ship Franklin by the ship's captain, Oliver Glisson. I'm not sure of the reason for the double ceremony.)

(Isabel's parents, Count Ignace Gurowski of Poland and Isabel de Bourbon, were apparently sympathetic to the marriage, since they had themselves eloped. And good for them. There was way too much inbreeding going on otherwise. First cousins and half-uncles marrying one another for generations...it was probably time to get some fresh stock in the gene pool.)

Charles and Isabel had two children, Alfonso and Carlos, both born in Paris in the 1870s. All seemed to be going well--until Charles backed the wrong pretender, Don Carlos, to the Spanish throne. Don Carlos's rival, Alfonso, was crowned king in 1874, and after that, disgrace seemed to follow Charles Perkins. 

Somehow, Charles and Isabel's marriage broke up, and Isabel remarried in 1886. Charles returned to America and settled in Syracuse, New York. He made his living as a Professor of Languages at Syracuse University and maintained a lifelong correspondence with his aunt-in-law, ex-Queen Isabella. Charles died in 1890; Isabel died in 1935. For a long time, Charles was the only American to have married into a European royal family. (Of course, Grace Kelly followed suit 80 years later.)

Charles and Isabel's saga is such a fascinating story--at least, it is to me. But I want more details! I haven't been able to find a photograph of either Charles or Isabel, and I had to piece all this together from various historical documents. It's romantic and tragic and mysterious, and I've been wondering for a while whether I should be the one to write a book about them. I can already see it as a movie, can't you?