I was tense.
It was one of the important moments for any romantic writer to stress me: I was about to introduce love interest to one of my heroines and I needed to name it.
That’s when I realized I had failed.
As a rule, a male-led romance novel needs a great, or at least good, name. Would Mr. Darcy be fit to hunt if Jane Austen had called him Mr. Tottlebert? Would Christian Gray have the same allure if EL James called him Melvin Weisz?
My big mistake was that I actually used Lance. Earlier Attractive Mrs. Vanessa from ManhattanshireLady Lady in the Par, a shameless and unfazed romantic addict, meets a young man enamored with love. I invented this guy – Lance – to be a straight, handsome guy. His job is to tell a story of a lost love until Lady Vanessa explodes with a slew of misleading romance advice and tries (and fails) to mend his broken relationship.
And that’s pretty much what happens.
Except the first lady, Vanessa, gets very hot and annoyed at the mention of Lance’s name. She considers these five letters the most masculine noun known as the bodicedom and drifts into a fanciful idea of Lance as a real bodily signifier, not just a noun but an insightful noun and verb.
You can see it, right? Long, broad shoulders, strong jaw. dark hair; Serious, real, attentive.
I could have changed Lance’s sad name to Tristan, for example, but Lady Vanessa’s Meditations were too good – at least for me – to be cut short. So the straight guy was in place. I needed to look elsewhere to baptize the heart of the new book.
And speaking of heartthrobs, I thought Hart would be a good last name for true love. The start was straightforward, sure, but it was a solid start. Now, I needed a perfect worthy first name. Then he hit me:
There was no thinking. You can see it, right? Long, broad shoulders, strong jaw. dark hair; Serious, real, attentive. I’ll let you choose the color of his kind eyes.
And like Lance, Grant Hart wasn’t just a name either. As Grant clan Aisha Beningili explained, Grant Hart is a “sentence caption.” Name, in other words, let love rule.
Sometimes a solitary pursuit of writing calls for self-congratulation. Admit it: I was very happy with Grant Hart. I’ve come up with an inspired name that can go the distance. It deserved to be in a satirical romance novel – a love story meant to celebrate the genre in all its brilliance and absurdity.
But the next day, I realized the source of my so-called genius: real life. Grant Heart was not invented. It already exists. I even saw him perform. Somehow, in my creative dross, I forgot my inspiration.
The original Grant Hart was a true rock ‘n’ roll hero. In 1979, he co-founded Minnesota’s legendary Hüsker Dü, a trio whose catchy, catchy sounds paved the way for alternative rock and grunge music.
In 1984, the band Zen Arcade, A conceptual and ambitious two-disc album about a runaway, it achieved nearly universal acclaim, with Hart and Husker Doe co-founder Bob Mold saluting songs that transcend the limitations of hardcore. It can be argued that Hart, a lyricist, songwriter and barefoot drummer who indulged in guitar and keyboards, was an ancestor of Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, who later replaced his group with a guitar to lead the Foo Fighters. In fact, the Foo Fighters covered Hart’s Hüsker Dü song, “I’ll Never Talk To You Again,” and Green Day covered the song “You Don’t Want To Know If You’re Lonely.”
Other than his name, the fictional Grant Hart – who leaves the woman he loves when she asks him and then thinks of her every day for years while helping farmers in the developing world – has nothing in common with a true genius – and – a psychedelic musician.
Using Grant Hart’s name in her story began to feel like a happy accident.
who – which Grant Hart had a sharp ending, a 1988 split with Mold. Hart’s subsequent solo album, intoleranceStill, it is an underrated gem. He wears a guitar and appears in the front of a new band, Nova Mob, but it hasn’t gained any strength. Eventually, he stopped performing, became sober, and worked as a graphic artist.
In 2013, he released his third career album (argumentbased on John Milton Paradise Lost) was the subject of everything, a brave and clear documentary about his life. Then he fell ill. Genius Troubadour, died in 2017 of complications from liver cancer.
When I realized I had given my character the rock hero acronym – I wondered if I needed to find a replacement.
But then I remembered something, and it made me think that the late great Grant Hart might completely etch his name into my book. Somehow, it belongs there.
That’s because Grant Hart is the only songwriter I can think of to sing about reading books. Paul McCartney sang about writing (or publishing) in Paperback Writer. So did Elvis Costello in his smart book “Every Day I Write the Book”, but Grant Hart sang it reading. The song – a piano-charged spinning drum – is called Books About Flying UFOs. This is the opening line:
Walking in the sunny street of the library
Book review in outer space.
Hart sings about a girl who eats oranges, reads books, sits on a lawn chair on her rooftop, and stares up at the sky. Cue the euphoric chorus:
Telling the same old story to everyone you know
She is just sitting in her room reading books about UFOs.
There you have it: a poem to read, a picture of a geek devouring… well, Hart isn’t very specific. I like to think she reads science fiction, astronomy, and the history of alien sightings.
as it happens, Attractive Mrs. Vanessa from Manhattanshire Land mines are similar. My Lady Vee is addicted to romance and sees the world from the perspective of her beloved books. Using Grant Hart’s name in her story began to feel like a happy accident. A proper coincidence. Nice literary encounter designed by, perhaps, my unconscious.
‘Books About UFOs’ ends with singer – Grant Hart, anyone? Determined to find a planet and name it after the girl in his song.
Thinking of this out-of-this-world romantic gesture, I realized there was no way I could change the name of my fictional hero. It was more perfect than I initially thought. It was not a theft. It was a greeting.
I had to Grant Hart.