I’m always careful when I name my characters after a number of experiences during presentations.

In my teen novel Dahling if You Luv Me Would You Please Please Smile I named one of the principle characters Jenny. Unfortunately, It was a too common choice of name that I came to regret.

What often happened was that I’d get to a school, start talking about the book, mention the name Jenny, there’d be a gasp from several students and many heads would turn to look at one girl in particular who was trying her darnedest to rise above such scrutiny.

And when I  got to the part where my character Jenny had big breasts, there’d be the inevitable snickers and the poor Jenny in the audience would be mortified. Same thing happened with the name Kevin.

It takes me back to when we were studying world history in grade four and we got to Kublai and Genghis Khan. It’s even spelled the same way. For years later I had to put with the rhymes kids made up about me.

The last thing I want to do is inflict that kind of situation on anyone.

For that reason, I try never to name a ‘negative’ character a common name.

At first I named the title character in Silly Chicken, Sally, but then thought that Sally was too close to Silly, and any Sally’s in the audience might catch it, so I eventually changed it to be Bibi.

You’d think ‘TJ’ would be a safe bet. It stands for Travis Junior, and I can’t imagine too many of them around.

Well sure enough today there happened to be a TJ in the audience. There was the same gasp, the same glances at one particular kid, but I just barrelled along, as if I hadn’t noticed. I’ve found it’s the best way to play down any coincidences.

Later the principal approached me and told me that not only was the boy named TJ (although the initials stood for something other than Travis Junior) he was indeed the school bully.

But I got to thinking. It’s not so bad, because when I was writing TJ’s stories (he’s actually the character the whole book revolves around) I couldn’t help liking this character even though he was a bully. If I were the TJ at school I don’t think I’d mind being named after this character. And in the end the bully character doesn’t get ‘punished’ as much as he gets socialized, which was the whole point of the book.

Some people think that Many Windows is about religious celebrations. I’m beginning to realize that it’s more about community and socialization. I think I did that deliberately.

At least I’m pretty sure it was deliberate.