National Novel Writing Month has begun!
I’m not participating this year, but I’ve got to say so!
In light of National Novel Writing Month, I decided I’d start my first blog of the month on…
The Genealogy of Zippy Mae.
Zippy Mae is the main character of the Zippy Mae series that I am working on, and is my next project. I decided on her story in May of this year, and made a post announcing the series here.
Zippy Mae is the final form of a character that’s been through so many transformations I decided to write an entire post about how the titular character of the Zippy Mae series came to be. Her genealogy, so to speak.
Zippy Mae starts as Lilly Atterbury. I had decided I wanted to write about a fun magic world in a standalone book, not a series. Lilly Atterbury was 20 summers old and of age to leave the house to get an apprenticeship with the local witch.
However that story quickly fell apart for me.
Lilly Atterbury became Zora Atterbury. Zora was 20 springs old and she lived in the neighborhood called Bradley Forge. Here nothing interesting really seems to happen, except that Zora Atterbury has magic that she can’t quite control.
This however didn’t last. I decided against the name Zora and changed to Tzipporah Atterbury, with Tzi as her nickname, pronounced Z or Zee. This is also when the nickname Zippy was first thought of.
Tzi was the youngest of three daughters, age 20 and is the black sheep of a family, as she is a spellcaster, which is a rare human who can use magic. The story was called Black Daughter.
Over time, I changed the idea that it was Black women who are the only human beings able of accessing spellcraft, and they were called spellcasters.
Tzi was kicked out of her house for having magic, then aged up to 29, lived in the town Hattensburg and became a target of a series of murders targeting spellcasters.
That didn’t last very long either because I decided it was too depressing, and wasn’t much fun.
So I had Tzipporah Atterbury aka Tzi aged down to about 12 years old and she was accepted to a magical academy where they used magic cats to guide magic children onto the campus. If the child gets onto the campus, they’re magic and they’re accepted.
Here is a little paragraph I wrote on it.
It was a dreary cold afternoon. But it was an afternoon unlike none other. Because this afternoon was Tzipporah Atterbury’s first day at The Academy. She adjusted herself smartly, consulting the mirror to affirm her appearance was just right. Her dark brown curly hair incased in perfectly straight cornrows, the bottoms ended in thick black and red beads. Her patent leather shoes shined, her white socks pulled to right below her knee and straight all around, matching each other.A. E. Costello
Then it was at this point I decided to retire the name “Tzipporah Atterbury” as I wasn’t sure if readers would know that the T in Tzipporah was silent or not. I also felt that Atterbury is just hard to say.
Tzipporah Atterbury does not roll off the tongue. Think about other children/young adult stories main character names. Percy Jackson. Darren Shan. Harry Potter. Charlie Bone. Artemis Fowl. Sweet, simple, short. So in the end, Tzipporah Atterbury had to go.
I decided that Zipporah seemed young and hip plus Zippy or Zip for a nickname is really cute. And Zipporah is the same name I wanted originally, just drop the T.
So Tzipporah Atterbury changed to Zipporah with no last name for a short period of time.
Then she was Zipporah May, and the series was going to be called the Zippy May series. But after talking with my mom, it was her idea to change it from May to Mae. Since I didn’t think Mae was a last name, I made it her middle name.
Thus Zippy Mae Freedman came about, finally. She was born June 20th, 2008, age 12 years old in the sixth grade and described as a black girl with natural hair.
That’s her genealogy, that’s how she came back to be. From Lilly to Zora to Tzipporah to Zipporah to Zippy. All of these transformations took place from January 2020 down to May 2020.
My Blackness in Disney’s Princess and the Frog: Introducing the Zippy Mae series by A. E. Costello I posted May 27th, 2020.
It’s now November 6, 2020, and Zippy Mae is continuing her journey. So, in closing, National Novel Writing Month started on Sunday. Have you signed up to participate? Ready to write your heart out for a month, and maybe, just maybe, finish that writing project you’ve been hesitating on?
Good luck with your writing endeavors, and remember, don’t sweat how long its taking you to finish anything. Everyone’s journey’s looks different. It took me five months to even decide on my main character’s name! Just keep writing.
And as always, while I write my cat Aomine keeps me company by my side.
4 Comments Add yours
Thanks for sharing. It is nice to see over a published writers creative shoulder.
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Thanks for reading! I thought it was a fun little post
This is fascinating! It’s always interesting to read how characters evolve over time to be what they are when they’re published. All of your ideas sound interesting, but the one you decided to go with does sound the most magical, and very charming. Good luck!
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I’m glad you enjoyed! I liked tracing how far Zippy Mae came. Thank you and good luck to you as well.
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