I was thinking about the next book as I wandered through Abney cemetery with the dogs this morning. Abney is a great place to find names, though I tend to forget them by the time I get home. (Note to self: pen and paper.) It's hard not to consider the large community of dead people when you walk through Abney cemetery -- there are whole stories based on the date a child died, or two children, in one case six under the age of eighteen -- and then a spouse, a second spouse, or parents. It's not a lot of information but sometimes tells nearly all you need to know about a life.
Superstitiously, I imagine that conjuring up a long gone existence based on a name, some dates, perhaps an epitaph--occasionally even an address and a few relatives--pays homage to the ghost.
But it doesn't matter whether it does or it doesn't. Thinking about things is what matters.
In the meantime, all this thinking about names made me consider how many names I've used up in the course of writing six books.
And in the new book, there's:
Fifty-three names (give or take) in all.
It looks as if ten is pretty much the average number of characters I can manage, with five at a bare minimum.
Now, class. What does this tell us about the optimum number of characters in a novel?
You, in the back, shouting 'bugger all.'