by Stephen Bly
Most folks get the privilege of naming their own kids. Novelists have the honor of creating handles for a whole slew of characters in each story he or she tells. Monikers for protagonists and villains usually receive the most attention.
It all started for me with Stuart Brannon, one of my first heroes. Actually, Sandy Thompson was the very first in The Land Tamers, but Stuart’s the most mentioned and remembered in the correspondence I receive. My wife pointed out about Book #3 of the Stuart Brannon series that I used my own initials for this choice, and the character seemed an awful lot like me. Maybe that’s a typical Freudian slip for many writers, but I don’t have any data to back that up. Later, when I needed a main male character for my contemporary series, The Austin-Stoner Files, I tried to make him very different from Stuart Brannon. So, I reversed the initials and called him Brady Stoner.
Now, before I began writing the Code of the West Series, I searched for something unique to call the central character, who didn’t happen to start out in the plot to be the typical hero type. Again, I commenced with my initials. But I dipped one letter lower in the alphabet for a ‘T’ for the first name. . .and raised one letter higher to choose an ‘A’ for his last name. T. A. I liked that. My granddad’s name was Theo and my dad’s was Arthur (my middle name). So, I kept it in the family…sorta.
I embarked on the search.
No problem. One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew (Peter’s brother), is a favorite of mine. I played with that as a last name. Then, I wanted a snappy first name, easy to type, but kinda different. For some reason, Tap came to mind. That seemed like a nickname. Short for what? After some brainstorming, I settled on Tapadera. Tapadera Andrews. Sounded good to me.
But how’d I conjure up Tapadera?
A tapadera’s a stirrup cover. It’s a wedge shaped piece of leather that covers the stirrup front and sides, but opens in the back. Made from heavy cow hide, on occasion it’s reinforced by a wooden frame. Cowboys and cowgirls use them in brush country to protect their feet. In California they’re called tapaderos or tapadereos in Spanish. Sometimes that’s shortened to taps.
Now you know a bit behind my names.
Readers often ask me how I came up with Oliole Fontenot in the Heroines of the Golden West Series. Ah, but that’s a whole nother story.
On a brushy trail in north-central Idaho,
Coming October 2009! Creede of Old Montana
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