I just want to say a huge thanks to Stacia for agreeing to do a guest post and for giving all of us with Terrible fever a little something fun to read while we're trying to wait patiently for book four.
This series is one of my very favorite new Urban Fantasy series, Chess and Terrible are beautifully written and the whole story is gritty, disturbing and utterly addicting.
I'll stop talking now and let Stacia tell you how she came up with the nickname that made us all melt.
Terms of endearment can be funny things. The same term or nickname that makes one woman feel all shivery and precious and warm inside may make another woman jaw-clenchingly angry.
Take “baby.” My husband has always called me baby. I call him baby. It honestly never occurred to me that “baby” could be considered offensive or upsetting or patronizing. But apparently it is; I discovered this a few years ago when I found a whole discussion online about the use of “Baby” in romances and how much the women participating in the discussion hated it.
Then there are things like “Sweetheart.” I call my children sweetheart. I never call my husband that, nor does he call me that. Sweetheart feels sort of diminutive to me.
Or you can get into the more personal terms and nicknames, stuff that comes from a shared history or joke. “Widgins” or “Stumpie” or whatever.
The thing is, what terms of endearment someone uses says something about them and what kind of person they are. (Greyson in my Demons books called Megan “darling,” because he was a “darling” kind of guy. Not everyone is.)
So what sort of endearment would a guy not used to using them use? A guy who doesn’t have a wide education and isn’t necessarily a smoothie with the ladies, a guy who maybe even feels a little nervous about using them? Who isn’t very verbally expressive to begin with, especially. Terrible isn’t as I, think we all know; he’s not used to being verbally affectionate, and he doesn’t think he’s particularly good with words to begin with.
I thought and thought about it, and then I asked everyone I could think of. I emailed my agent and my editor to see if they had any suggestions. I turned to my handy-dandy little Word Museum book, which is where I got a lot of the obscure and archaic words I incorporate into Downspeech, but found nothing; there are lots and lots of words in that book for “whore,” but very few that are actually affectionate, and the ones that are just sound silly now. And I needed something Terrible might reasonably come up with on his own; he’s a lot smarter than he thinks he is, but I doubt he would pull something like “dumpling” or “cuddle bunny” out of thin air, and feel comfortable using it. (Can you imagine? Ha!)
I wanted to use “Angel.” I still wish I could use it; I have a whole backstory for it, wherein because Terrible was two or three years old when Haunted Week happened, one of his earliest memories is of seeing a Christmas display in a window that featured an angel, and little Terrible thought it was beautiful. Sweet, huh? But given that any language of that sort is illegal, and given that for him to call Chess that would necessitate him telling her that whole story, it didn’t feel right. When it came down to it, I couldn’t see him using it, at least not all the time. Maybe once in a great while. And certainly not when they were just friends.
I was actually writing the withdrawal scene when I thought of Chessiebomb. I don’t remember what exactly led me to it, but I do remember making the association in my head between “Chessie” and “Cherry.” And of course, when I think of Cherry, I think of the Runaways’ awesome song “Cherry Bomb,” which has long been one of my favorite songs. And the lyrics fit Chess pretty well, too.
Instantly I knew it was right. It felt authentic, like the kind of thing Terrible might reasonably come up with on his own. It felt like something he would feel comfortable saying. It’s affectionate but not mushy or lovey-dovey, which was of course especially important before they actually got together. So it felt like something he might call her as a friend, and something she might kind of enjoy being called, but it isn’t too heavy or indicative of his secret feelings toward her.
And yes, I also used “baby” in that UNHOLY MAGIC scene. Because you know what? Like it or not, he would say it, especially when she’s ill. He’d never called her that before, so it was indicative of how he felt about her and how he wanted to make her feel better, and the fact that she didn’t even notice, much less feel weird or uncomfortable about it, showed us a few things too: her feelings that she refused to recognize; her comfort level around him; how sick she was.
Of course I had no idea “Chessiebomb” was going to be such a point of interest; to be honest I was afraid people would think it was kind of stupid (I’m always afraid people will find everything I write kind of stupid). So it was really exciting to see the reaction to it, and how much everyone seemed to like it; well, it’s incredibly exciting that people seem to like the books so much, I never even hoped the response would be as enthusiastic as it’s been. It’s a constant source of amazement.
So what do you like about “Chessiebomb,” and what makes it stand out for you? What other sorts of terms of endearment do you think Terrible or Chess would use? Which ones do you use, and which do you love or hate?