Before releasing the moniker Cash Laramie into the wonderful world of fiction, I Googled the name to make sure the it hadn't already been taken, and, outside of Six Ways To Make Cash
fast in Laramie, WY, I found I was free to use it. Later, after the first Cash Laramie tale had been published, I ran across several interesting links for Cash's partner Gideon Miles
. Which brings me next to "The Sins of Maynard Shipley," my latest piece of crime fiction for the upcoming issue of NEEDLE
. I dug the old-fashioned sound of the name, but, as you can tell by the story title, Maynard is not the finest of folks. As a matter of fact, he's downright evil but I'm digressing. After I sent editor Steve Weddle the story I came across the OAC
site with the following:
Born in Baltimore, Maryland on December 1, 1872, Maynard Shipley was educated at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. A self-taught musician, Shipley gave music lessons to pay his way through college. At Stanford he specialized in the study of science and became a writer and lecturer on scientific subjects. For twenty years he lectured on astronomy and evolution, both on the platform and over the radio. In 1898 he founded the Academy of Science in Seattle, Washington and later became its second president. During the 1920s Shipley took an active part in the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy, lecturing and debating on the side of science and liberalism. In 1924 he founded the Science League of America Inc., a national association to protect freedom in teaching and to resist attempts to unite church and state in the United States. Shipley wrote The War on Modern Science (1927), The Key to Evolution (1929), and was the author of thirty-three "Little Blue Books" on scientific subjects as well as numerous articles on science and criminology. He married Miriam Allen de Ford, a writer, in 1921. Shipley died in June 1934.
While this non-fiction Maynard Shipley sounds like someone I would have like to have known as a very productive member of society (sidebar: Ms. de Ford
is interesting in her own right), my fictional Maynard is the polar opposite: self-centered with a penchant for killing the geezers at the Witherbee Assisted Living Center.
I'll let you know as soon as the next NEEDLE issue is out. But, for now, my question is for all you writers. No matter how small the character is in your story do you research a name or say the hell with it?