Thursday, September 24, 2015


This week Janice Moore asks: “I’ve wondered if you’ve ever written anything in your book(s) that is personal only to you or a few others, like a favorite pet's name, inside joke, special date, personal habit, etc.”

Janice has won a copy of Lisa Harris’s book, FATAL EXCHANGE!

I have set my mysteries in the hometown of my childhood memories, Plattsburgh, NY, but I "disguise" the places with thinly veiled pseudonyms: "Jury Street" for Court Street; "Ernie's
Restaurant" for Arnie's Restaurant, The "Adirondack" Theater for the Champlain Theater. People who know the town will recognize the landmarks. I also always make a point to include something about Lake Champlain and the legendary Lake Champlain Monster in every story, just for fun.

E.E. Kennedy, author of the Miss Prentice Cozy Mystery series

Yes, I've written little "inside jokes" for my peeps from time to time.
That's what I love about using words as a tool to reach people. Words touch different people in different ways!

 Dana Mentink

Because I always try to put my characters into life-threatening situations, I never name them after people I know. Though I have used past experiences and places in my stories from time to time.
My favorite restaurant, here in Dallas, became one of my settings in Grime Beat. And a family wedding became the first few chapters of a new romance that I'm writing.

Marji Laine

I'm constantly putting in my pet's names. I also center a lot of my stories around my hometown, but change the name of the people and businesses. A bit of my relatives also seem to slip in.

Cynthia Hickey (Melton)


My friend, author Alton Gansky, used to always include the word “macadam” for some reason. I don’t have a single word or phrase I
use, but I do sometimes put in something personal like a name or date—in my forthcoming novella, the address of the dead woman is on Redman Lane, where we used to live years ago.

Richard Mabry

I slide little “inside jokes” into my stories frequently. For example, I used my friend’s Debbie’s name to describe a bad little girl that attended my character’s grade school.

Sometimes I use pet names that mean something to friends. For example, my friend Mary had a dear pet named Buddy who died too soon. I used his name in a story just to give a shout out to Mary and acknowledge Buddy.

To be honest, most of the people I know will end up in one of my novels. Why not use the name of a friend instead of some fictional name without any meaning? I do stay away from using real names for my villains, however. Although I almost did it once. In the end, I decided it was mean. Even if it would have made me feel better. LOL!

Nancy Mehl

Each week the Suspense Sisters (and our Suspense Mister) will answer a question from one of our followers. If you’d like to be a part of “Ask the Suspense Sisters” Thursday, leave a question in the comments below. We’ll pick a question and pose it to the Sisters! You could win a book written by one of the today’s top suspense/mystery authors or a gift certificate for Amazon! (Be sure to leave us your contact information. Any comment that doesn’t include a way to reach you will be disregarded.)


  1. How do you choose names for your characters ?

  2. Deana, I usually try to choose a name that reflects the persona of the character. Then I check one of the many online references available to see if the first name was popular during the year(s) the character was born. I'll confess, though, that sometimes I choose a combination of names from people I've known--first name of one, last name of another. The one time I actually chose a real person's name for a character who turned out to be "don't know if he's good or bad," his wife read the book--pointed it out to him, and he loved it. Wrote him into a novella to settle the matter, and he liked that even more. Thanks for asking.