In 2009, when I started writing Esperanza, our neighbors’ daughter stopped by one afternoon to say hi to Megan, who was home on a break from college. Madison – Maddie – was four then, a fearless cutie curious about everything. She’s still that way. Show her a bug, a reptile, even a rodent and she’ll figure out a way to pick it up without getting bitten so she can examine it. A biologist in the making.
When I was casting around for names for my Esperanza characters, that name, Maddie, kept pushing up against me. I knew one of my characters had to have that name. My protagonist’s 17-year-old niece got the honor. My Maddie probably won’t pick up reptiles and snakes, but has an otherwise fearless approach to life, just like our neighbor Maddie. I must find the answers on my own.
After Maddie’s mom read Esperanza, she asked if the character Madison was named after her daughter. You got it, I said.
“I knew it, I just knew it. Okay, so what happens to her in the sequel? You’ve left us hanging – Dominica just took over Maddie’s body and fled Esperanza.”
“I don’t know what happens yet.” At the time, I was still writing Ghost Key.
Ghost Key, The sequel to Esperanza, was actually two books. The first one took place in Hood River, Oregon, my agent hated it, my editor wasn’t crazy about it. So I rewrote it and set it on Cedar Key, Florida. I had spent only a week in Hood River, on vacation, and should have known it would never work as a location. With just a couple of exceptions, my 35 novels have taken place in Florida or in imaginary places. If I write about a place, I have to know that place. I loved Hood River, but I wasn’t there long enough to get to know it. I’ve lived in Florida off and on since 1963. I know Florida. Big difference for a writer.
So I rewrote the novel, which took about seven months,located the story in Florida, primarily on Cedar Key, and the story worked. It’s about what happens to Maddie after Dominica seizes her and flees Ecuador. When Maddie’s mom finished GK, she stopped by the house, hands on her hips, and grinned. “Okay, in this next book, Trish, you have got to include an inside joke. I mean, you’re already using my daughter’s name. So now use something that only you and I and our families will get.”
Well, I’m happy to report that such a scene worked its way into Apparition. I ran across it this evening, as I was reading through the revision notes my editor sent. It involves these guys:
the kitty gargoyles
Copper – neighbors’ cat – and our Simba cat, look like twins. They came into our and respective lives within just a week or so of each other. Copper has amber eyes, Simba has green eyes, that’s the quickest way to tell them apart. Some mornings when I wake up with an orange cat meowing at the bathroom window to get out, I think it’s Simba. It turns out to be Copper. In Apparition, Copper is named Cobre, the Spanish equivalent. So there it is, Maddie’s mom. The end of chapter 3, the inside joke!
And thank you for naming your daughter Maddie.