Diana and Laura play dress-up

In All Who Are Lost, Chapter 14, “Ancient Crimes,” Laura and Diana find the old couture clothes of their mother stashed in the attic of their father’s house and play dress-up.  Laura buys the dresses from Diana and plans to wear them in the upcoming benefit she is giving for Lucy’s cause.

Here is the Pinterest board I created with ideas for some of the dresses. I particularly like the couture of Charles James, who created mini works of architecture in his dresses. So what should Laura wear at the concert? (We will see in All That Burns the Dark.)

       Follow Lindsey’s board Haute Couture on Pinterest.

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Cam St. Bride

I’m not going to add a character sketch for Cameron St. Bride, but I did want to post his picture. I have always thought he looked like the young Brett Cullen (actor from TX who had a supporting role in Apollo 13). Here is the link to the headshot that I put in my writing notebook for Cam. It’s the third headshot in the fourth row. If you click it, you’ll see a larger version of the photo.

Brett Cullen

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What’s in a Name?

Or how I got to name people who couldn’t complain!

While I’ve been asked many times where I got the idea for Ashmore’s Folly, no one has ever asked me how I came up with the names for my characters. I have agonized over each and every name — and only two characters have had the same name all the way through.

Naming a character is as fraught with anxiety as naming a child. With a child, however, you don’t know ahead of time whether or not the name will suit him/her, and she can always call herself Liz instead of Beth later on! In fiction, the name must fit the character; it is actually part of the personality of the character.

No insult to the Freds of the world, but Richard was never going to be Fred (maybe Frederick, if I liked the name). Laura was never going to be Mary Sue. Diana was never going to be Jane. There’s nothing wrong with those names, but they don’t convey what I wanted in the respective characters.

Laura Rose Abbott St. Bride

Laura had so many names over the years: Christabel (from Coleridge’s poem), Pamela (no! that never would have done! even though a Pamela is a very dear friend of mine), Catherine/Cat, Marianna (after another dear friend), and Diana. None of those worked, although Cat survived as her stage name. I wanted a soft, feminine name, and I came up short until one night I watched the old film noir Laura. The name signified a woman who was an enigma even to those who knew her best. My heroine has been Laura ever since. It also helped that Laura was Plutarch’s muse, so the name had a classical appeal and fit in with the other names for the Abbott sisters.

The Rose of her middle name came from a Louisa May Alcott book I loved when I was a girl called Rose in Bloom.

Originally, St. Bride was St. John. However, there is a musician named Lara St. John, so I decided to change it to a name that I read somewhere in a book a long time ago. St. Bride is not a common name at all, so I settled on that.

Richard Patrick Ashmore

Richard has been Richard for most of his existence. I’ve always loved the name, and it was the name of my favorite Mary Stewart hero (Richard Byron). When my sister Lauri said last year that she was sort of squicked out by him having that name (because we have a brother named Richard), I thought of changing it to Brandon, since I was no longer using that as a last name. Then, Twihard that I am, I thought of the very attractive vampire Garrett played by Lee Pace in Breaking Dawn, Part II, so I tried Garrett Ashmore on for size. That name even went out to my beta readers. However, no matter what, my hero was still Richard to me. It just suited him — aristocratic, dignified, not trendy. A lot of Virginia scions have had the name Richard.

The middle name Patrick came about because (1) I love the name, and (2) I had long since decided that Richard’s mother came from Ireland.

Originally, Richard’s family name was Brandon. This is an old Virginia name, and I thought that Richard Brandon was exactly right for the scion of an aristocratic Virginia family. There is even a plantation called Upper Brandon. Then my friend Patti Burroughs pointed out that it was one letter off from Richard Branson, who couldn’t be more different from my hero. I needed a name that sounded like a family that might have come over from England and settled in Virginia in the early 1700s, and I went through a number of ideas before I thought of James Monroe’s home, Ash Lawn, which is adjacent to Monticello, and the name Ashmore popped into my head. I ran it by a few people, who approved it enthusiastically.

So Richard became Richard Ashmore.

Julia (Julie) Ashmore

Originally named Judy. Wouldn’t have worked at all. (Oh, and originally Richard and Diana had had three children, with the other two being named Search and Ross. Not only were those two completely unnecessary, but Diana was never, ever going to have three kids. The Ashmores could barely stand being married to each other long enough to have Julie. So Search and Ross vanished into the ether.)

Philip and Peggy Ashmore

They were always Philip and Peggy. Peggy’s maiden name, O’Brien, was my grandmother’s maiden name.

Diana Renée Abbott Ashmore

Diana was one of the names I thought of for Laura, but it never fit. Diana herself was originally Leslie, and I still think that might have worked. Then I must confess, I read a biography/tell-all about Diana, Princess of Wales, that was not at all complimentary about her mental state and, indeed, implied that she was a borderline personality. My Diana is not borderline, but she is definitely a little whacked out. So the oldest Abbott daughter became Diana, for the Princess.

Lucia (Lucy) Gianna Abbott Maitland

I always knew that the second sister would have an L name, and I went through so many: Lacey, Libby, Lizzie, Lydia. Then I thought of what I had established as Dominic Abbott’s penchant for Italian names, and Lucia came to mind. Lucia, of course, led to Lucy in the space of a second. Perfect! I thought the name illuminated Lucy’s girl-next-door persona and emphasized her friendly, outgoing nature.

Francesca (Francie) Mariah Abbott

Oh, if I had trouble with a name, this was it! She had so many iterations: Felicia, Fernanda (not sure where that came from), Catherine, Christina, Patricia, Annabel, Francine. Again, the Italian came to the rescue, and Francine became Francesca. Francesca implied mystery, a touch of the exotic — perfect for Francie’s wild-child, bad-girl persona.

As for the Mariah — I can’t say too much yet.

Dominic Abbott

That was not his original first name, although Abbott was ALWAYS the last name. I decided he was an ex-monk, and I thought first of St. Francis of Assisi. No, this man was no St. Francis. Then I thought of St. Dominic, which suggested the idea of domination. Dominic certainly attempts to dominate his daughters.

Renée Dane Marlowe

In the interest of not committing libel, I will not divulge where I came up with the name Renée. Marlowe is from Christopher Marlowe. In early drafts, the girls’ mother was so unimportant that I didn’t bother to name her.

Cameron St. Bride

Originally Gavin St. John, the Gavin being a homage to Barbara Michaels’ first book and one of my favorite Gothics, The Master of Blacktower. But Gavin is just too much of a romance hero name. I don’t know where Cameron came from, but one day it was just there, and it was perfect. Plus, I liked the nickname Cam.

Margaret (Meg) St. Bride

Originally Gayla, after a college roommate. It didn’t work. I had already decided that Richard’s mother was named Peggy, so it wasn’t a stretch that Laura would have named her daughter for the only woman who had ever mothered her. Why Meg? See Little Women.

Mark St. Bride

An old, unlamented boyfriend who was rather rigid in his approach to life. ‘Nuff said.

Emma St. Bride

I actually like the name Emma.  I wanted both of Cam’s siblings to have short names, and Emma popped into mind. I’ve never met an Emma that I dislike, but I do dislike Emma St. Bride.

Tom Maitland

Started off life as John Paul, because I so admired John Paul II. Then I changed him to Tom for Thomas Jefferson.

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