What's in a Name?

Shakespeare. You gotta love him. At least, I certainly do. When I was young I memorized the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet (that's where the quote from above comes from). I collected Hamlets (Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier, many others), and worked my way through the teeny tiny print of a one-volume collected works of Shakespeare in my early teens.

I grew up in Princeton, and our class trips were to the local theater, which luckily happened to be the world-famous McCarter Theater, run by Arthur Lithgow, John's father. John was head of the drama club in high school, and served as spear-carrier in McCarter's version of Julius Caesar, and I discovered listening to Shakespeare was like going to a country where you knew the language but had never spoken it. It would take about five minutes of incomprehensible poetry being spouted on stage and then suddenly it all began to make sense.

Anyone remember the gorgeous version of Much Ado About Nothing with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson? Filmed is Tuscany, it's full of life and color and gorgeous white clothes. And it contains one of the great couples in literature, the squabbling, furious, funny and passionate Beatrice and Benedick.

Yup, you got it. Benedick. When Adrian and Charlotte of RECKLESS had children she got to name two of them, he got the other two. He had never been crazy about being called Adrian, so he chose Charles and Brandon for the two he got to name, solid, normal names. Charlotte went for Shakespeare -- Benedick from Much Ado and Miranda from The Tempest. Shakespeare ran through BREATHLESS - The Scorpion kept insisting he was Richard the Third, compleat villain, while Miranda thought he was Caliban, her own particular monster.

So ... that, in a nutshell, is why the hero of SHAMELESS is Benedick, not Benedict. I guess some find it distracting, which is a real drag, because if I'd known I probably would have changed it. I firmly believe nothing should get in the way of being immersed in Story, not even something that's technically correct or brilliant writing (not that anyone's ever accused me of either ).

But I was so used to Benedick that I didn't realize it would seem odd to others. Sorry 'bout that. But hey, the first book had a hero named Francis, fer heaven's sake! Don't ask me why -- they name themselves.

But I'm hoping, apart from that little flaw, that you'll find SHAMELESS as fun to read as I enjoyed writing it. It should start popping up in bookstores any day, though I gather the e-versions don't come out until July 1st. It's fun, it's fast, and it's sexy (of course).