Lorabeth and Hedda

Where did you get your inspiration for Lorabeth and Hedda and how did you choose their names?

Wow, my first Formspring question! Thank you for asking, dear anonymous reader! I'm excited to answer. For anyone who reads my blog, and not so much my Figment work, this question is in regards to my newest project on Figment, a serial novel called Boys and Bees.

Lorabeth Frisch 

When I'm writing about Lorabeth, I do imagine her looking something like actress Hailee Steinfeld. There's a wildness about her hair (looks like it could hold twigs) and an unconventional kind of beauty about her.

Even though the first chapter of my serial novel, Boys and Bees, starts off with the angle of examining Hedda, the story began when I created my true main character, Lorabeth. I've always had a love for mori girls, a kind of woodland-inspired fashion trend created in Japan. To me, my main character had to be a little wild, untamed, but still lovable. I looked at a lot of old vintage photos of little girls with snarled hair and rumbled dresses and was, in part, inspired by the description of the little girl in one of William Wordsworth's poems called "We Are Seven." He writes:

"She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad;
Her eyes were fair, and very fair,
Her beauty made me glad."

Usually my characters are pretty straight-laced, always doing their homework and making sure they're on time for appointments. So I wanted to do something different with Lorabeth by trying to make her a slacker, haha. Lorabeth is a very determined girl but has a one-track mind: training her bees is what matters to her the most and anything that gets in her way is nothing more than a useless distraction. In that way, she's a oddball for sure, but it makes writing about her a very fun and interesting experience. 

Lorabeth's relations with her parents - the lion-tamer father and gardener mother - will come about later in the story and will hopefully shed some light on where she picked up on some of those traits, haha. 

Finding a name for Lorabeth was tough. I didn't want to give her name that sounded too dreamy or feminine. I usually search through popular names starting from the Victorian Era and on - rarely do I pick names that are popular now - unless they happened to show up in other lists, as most names do. I happened upon a website that listed popular nicknames for boys and girls, and that's how I found, buried in the L's, the name Lorabeth. 

There is no actually name meaning for Lorabeth, but it is a combination of two existing ones: Lora means "laurel" and Beth means "house." It will be interesting to see how these two meanings will collide or if, perhaps, she develops a preference for one of them. 

Hedda Sparling

Dakota Fanning is, in a way, how I imagine Hedda to look. Hedda is a pale beauty with a round face and luminous eyes. I think Dakota, especially in this photo, embodies that kind of energy :)

The story of Boys and Bees begins with love letters - and someone had to read them. Hedda was born from this need. However, she quickly stood on her own as a mysterious and alluring girl... with something to hide. Well, it took me a while to find out what that secret was. I couldn't pry it from her. "Okay," I had thought. "This girl has a secret. Fine. I'll let her have it."

 Hedda's secret, within a chapter or two of writing, finally became clear; I can't wait to fill you in on it when the time comes in the story.

Again, like with Lorabeth, I hadn't yet written about a popular girl. I like teen school movies as much as the next person (Mean Girls being my favorite), but I never created my own set of Plastics before. Nor did I do it here. I fleshed Hedda's character out and realized that she'd never be flat like that - her father's influence, along with her secret, plus those constant love letters from boys, created a potent character that has a lot more layers than I first expected. Hedda Sparling may be the popular girl, but she's not happy with what that actually means. 

She teams up with Lorabeth because she shares a deep love for the school - and I'm sure, along the way, she'll reveal more of herself to the readers. 

When it came to her name, I didn't think about meaning. I came across "Hedda" and it stuck. Simple as that. For the purpose of answering the question fully, I looked up the meaning: "contention" or "strife." Wow. How perfect, haha. 

Questions For You...

How do you imagine Lorabeth and Hedda when you read Boys and Bees? When it comes to naming characters, what is your process?