Besides the names of mountains and lakes, the town and street names catch my eye. For example, my grandparents lived in Buzzards Bay on Cape Cod. Now doesn’t that sound like a great place to set in a story? Other “east coast” names that fascinate me are Nantucket Sound and Owls Head. The name Poughkeepsie in New York just makes me smile. It sounds like fun—and would be a light story. Roanoke and Claymont give away their “stuffy” British backgrounds. The name Nags Head makes me wonder what happened to the poor horse there—or was it about a discontented woman? (Probably neither—but there goes my imagination…) Women seem to get little respect from history as the names of most places related to them are similar to Crazy Woman Creek, Maggies Nipples, or Squaw Hill (all of Wyoming.)
Even old names of streets such as Gallows Road and Persimmon Tree Road start stories spinning through my head. Seven Locks Road—now there just has to be a story about covering up a murder in there somewhere.
My new release, The Rebel and the Lady, is set in San Antonio, Texas and the names of places there reflect the Spanish/Mexican/Indian heritage of the land. Nacogdoches, Cibolo, Gonzales are all surrounding towns. Apache Creek and the Brazos and Guadalupe Rivers are nearby and legends and stories abound of lovers leaps, mad woman hauntings, Comanche raids and buried gold. Dead Horse Gulch, Broken Man Trail, Agua Dulce (sweet or fresh water) all give rise to more story ideas.
Coyote Mesa, Buffalo Trail, Coon Hollow, Whiskey Ridge, Slipdown Mountain—well, you get the picture. Perhaps, as I suspect, only a writer or history buff has this strange affection for names and places. What about you? Do you live near or have you heard of a particular place with an unusual/interesting name?