writing meme: days 3 & 4

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?

I have to be very careful with names. There are names you’ll never see used inside Harlan County. Although that’s changing somewhat, names there remain very traditional. Last names are a problem, too. They seem to be place specific. So I have an old (1997 I think) Harlan County telephone directory.

As for places, I do write fiction, but it’s set in my version of a real place – see my response to question one from yesterday. However, I try to keep my descriptions as close to the actual places as I’m able. I have extensive research and gods know how many photographs of Harlan County that I use for reference.

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

Oh this is fun. If you’ve read my biography, you know that I wrote my first book when I was six. It’s a tiny thing written and drawn on yellow memo paper. It’s about a princess and her dog who live on the bottom of a large body of water.