Posts Tagged ‘What’s In A Name’

What’s In A Name (Part 2)


September 22nd, 2021 Posted 8:36 am

Mrs. Publicist: Okay, Pete, yesterday we introduced Shaky Insterwald, somewhat seedy proprietor of a rundown driving range in the Valley (see post below) in Tender Is The Bite. I know character names are important to you, so tell us about this one.

Pete: Well, discerning readers may have spotted the fact that not all the humor in the Chet and Bernie series is subtle. Sometimes it gets pretty broad – broad humor going way back in English literature, all the way to Chaucer. So, for a golfer, what could be worse that Shaky? And of course the shakes are the bane of golfers, from the worst hacker on up to the PGA tour. But later, when Shaky gives Charlie, Bernie’s kid, a lesson, he turns out to be very good at it. Which sort of leads us to the surname. Back in the 1950’s there was an excellent touring pro named Dow Finsterwald (won the PGA Championship in 1958 and is still alive, by the way). Love that surname – sort of a tiny sound poem, so I stole part of it for my character.

Mrs. P: Thanks, Pete. See you next month for another edition of What’s In A Name.


What’s In A Name?


September 21st, 2021 Posted 9:40 am

Mrs. Publicist: We haven’t done What’s In A Name in way too long, when Pete (aka Spence) discusses a name from the Chet and Bernie series. What’ll it be?

Pete: How about Shaky Insterwald from Tender Is The Bite?

Mrs. P: Great. Why don’t we introduce him, as he first appears at the beginning of Chapter 28, and then we’ll discuss him tomorrow?

Pete: You’re the boss. Here’s the beginning of Chapter 28:

When it comes to golf, Shaky Insterwald is our go-to guy. He’d also been the go-to-guy for lots of folks interested in buying beachfront property in Mexico. Some of those folks ended up hiring me and Bernie when it turned out that those beachfront properties didn’t exist, and neither did the beaches, meaning we’d lugged the surfboard down there for nothing. But all that was in the past and Shaky’s days of breaking rocks in the hot sun were behind him. Now he ran Buckets and Buckets O’Balls, Cheapest Driving Range West of the Mississippi, Come Knock Yourself Out, which I believe was the full name of the place, written on the monster sign out front.


What’s In A Name?


January 12th, 2021 Posted 8:37 am

Mrs. Publicist: Hi, there, Pete! Haven’t seen you in a while and we haven’t done What’s In A Name in ages, where Peter Abrahams aka Spencer Quinn discusses a character name from one of his books, sometimes a Chet and Bernie. I know character names are important to you, Pete. You’ve said you can’t write a character until the right name comes to you.

Pete: I’ll stick by that. One other thing – only characters who speak at least one word get a name. With rare exceptions.

Mrs. P: Such as?

Pete: A corpse.

Mrs. P: So what’ll it be today?

Pete: How about we take a look at Lotty Pilgrim, one of the central characters in Heart of Barkness, a –

Mrs. P: Now available in paperback!

Pete: – has-been or never-was country music singer. Lotty seemed like one of those names that hearkens back – kind of an echo of Dottie, as in the great Dottie West. As for Pilgrim, it more than hints at the wandering minstrel, and there are echoes of the old country song I Am A Pilgrim, recorded many times but never more beautifully than by the Byrds on their Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. I hear you thinking: Pilgrim? Maybe too on the nose? But we’re talking country music! That gives us a license to be on the nose. The famous Nashville songwriter Harlan Howard said country music was three chords and the truth.

Mrs. P: And as readers may not know, Lotty sings a Song For Chet. We’ll post it in a day or two, but meanwhile it’s on iTunes etc. and there’s a video on youtube. See you next month for more of What’s In A Name!



What’s In A Name?


November 15th, 2019 Posted 10:23 am

Mrs. Publicist: Fifteenth of the month, when Peter Abrahams aka Spencer Quinn discusses a character name from one of his books, often a Chet and Bernie. What’ll it be today?

Pete: How about Heart of Barkness?

Mrs. P: The latest Chet and Bernie? Take it away!

Pete: Well, then, let’s take a look at Flaco de Vargas, the aging and half-blind wrangler at Rancho de la Luna, a supporting character.

Mrs. P: The one whose brother Hector co-wrote How You Hung the Moon with Lotty Pilgrim, whose secret past is central to the story?

Pete: Whoa! Spoiler alert. But yes – that’s him. Country music – and country music from down on the border – is pretty much always in the background in Heart of Barkness. The truth is I set out to write a novel reminiscent of a murder ballad. I stole the name Flaco from Flaco Jimenez, the great Mexican musician.

Mrs. P: What if I told you I hunted around on YouTube and found him playing on an actual murder ballad?

Pete: That would be great, but not exactly a surprise.

Mrs. P: Thanks, Pete! See you next month for more of What’s In A Name!


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