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Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Fun Facts: Just call me John (with guest Lisa Ireland)

As I indicated last week, I am asking my Friday guest posters to share a tidbit of research  that they discovered in the course of writing their book - that may or may not have made it into the final product. It just seems a shame to waste it!

So here is my inaugural guest, my fellow "Escape Artist", Lisa Ireland. 

Although born and bred in the city of Melbourne, Australia, Lisa has always been a country girl at heart. After graduating from university, her love of horses, cattle dogs and tumbling-down farmhouses led her to accept a teaching position at a small school in rural Victoria. A flood, a bushfire, and countless snakes taught her there was more to life on the land than fluffy sheep and home baked scones! Lisa hopes her stories reflect the deep admiration she has for rural communities. She will never forget the hospitality she was shown as a wide-eyed city slicker, new to life in the bush.
Lisa now lives in a small coastal town and spends her days dreaming up stories as she walks along the beach. (Don’t tell her husband — he thinks she’s there to watch him catching waves.) When not writing, reading or conducting conversations with characters in her head, Lisa is busy being mum to her three boys and trying her best to train her impossible but adorable Labrador.
Over to Lisa...

When Alison asked me to write a post on a fun research

fact I was stumped. I write contemporary fiction. Whilst I do research, much of it isn’t very exciting. For example in my first book, Breaking The Drought, I spent an awful lot of time researching soil types and tree species in various parts of Victoria. Not that you’d know that if you read the book, because it was all for the sake of one tree in one paddock!

I was about to email Alison and tell her I couldn’t do it, when I realised there is one topic I research over and over again: character names.

As a reader, character names are very important to me. If a name seems incongruous for some reason I’m pulled out of the story. It’s important that the name is appropriate to the age, culture, nationality and social circumstances of the character. If not I need a plausible reason for this.

When it comes to naming my characters I spend a lot of time choosing and I’m not just talking about my main characters here. Every person appearing in my books will have had their name thoroughly researched! I spend hours trawling through popular baby names of various time periods before I make my choice.

Just in case you were wondering, here are some popular choices for Australian born babies over the past century.

Year               Boy                             Girl
2014              Oliver                          Charlotte
2010              Jack                             Ruby
2000              Joshua                          Emily
1990              Matthew                     Jessica
1980              Michael                       Rebecca
1970              David                          Michelle
1960              Peter                           Jennifer
1950              John                            Margaret
1940              John                            Margaret
1930              John                            Margaret (yes, seriously!)
1920              John*                          Betty

*We’re an imaginative lot Down Under, aren’t we?

This list has ben compiled using the records from Births, Deaths and Marriages in Victoria. 1920s records are from Births, Deaths and Marriages, NSW.

When a smooth-talking, sophisticated city girl comes striding into town on her stiletto heels, he's the last person who wants to notice...
When Jenna McLean gets roped into attending a matchmaking ball in a small country town, she holds no illusions of meeting the man of her dreams.  A no-nonsense magazine editor, Jenna doesn’t believe in leaving love to chance, which is why she’s developed Marriage Material – a fool-proof framework for husband hunting. Shearers and farmhands need not apply.
Sheep grazier Luke Tanner has met women like Jenna before, and knows not to waste his time. With the drought dragging on and bushfire season around the corner, the last thing he needs is a spoiled city girl like Jenna adding to his problems. He'll help out with the ball because it's good for the community, but he won't dance, he won't flirt, and he definitely won't be matched.
It's been a long dry season, but everyone knows when it rains, it pours.