What’s in a Name? ~ Outside the Margins with Kelly Jensen

Join Prism Book Alliance® as Kelly Jensen goes Outside the Margins today.


For the Chaos Station series, my co-writer, Jenn Burke, and I had to put together an entire galaxy. We based it on the Milky Way, used some actual solar systems and made up a couple of our own. We decided habitable planets were few and far between and built a culture of space stations and orbital platforms. The naming convention for these stations was based on the corporation that built them. Shi Corporation stations were named for Chinese deities and Anatolius Corporation stations were given Greek names (mostly deities). Independent station names came outta our heads and if they were easy to spell and say, so much the better.

We’ve recently started a new project together. This time our world is, well…we’re calling it ‘light paranormal’. It’s basically our world, with one subset of humanity being a little different. We further decided on a small town setting and decided our town would be somewhere in Pennsylvania. Nearly all of my solo projects are set in Pennsylvania—partly because I live here and have a long history with the state, and partly because there are a lot of neat landscapes here that suit different types of stories.

Next up was mapping. We chose an actual city, made a copy of the map, and converted one of the neighborhoods into our town. We kept some street names and changed others. I’m a visual person, so I really like having a map. When you’re co-writing, it’s an almost essential tool. We’ve, ah, had situations before where we’ve thought the story was unfolding in different places on our wildly divergent mental maps.

With a map in place, it was time to name our town. This is where I had some fun. I really like naming things. Jenn, bless her, seems to know this. She lets me name a lot of things. When you want to know who named the hellhole of a planet in Phase Shift (Chaos Station #5) “Paradise”, that would be me. I also named a hollowed out asteroid with thrusters (think space caravan) “Morrison” because I have a weird sense of humor.

I had two ideas for naming our town: that we should choose something quaint and real-worldish, or that we should choose something cute and funny. I started a chart for suggestions and went wild with the random name generators, homages (Sunnydale made the list), out and out weird stuff and a few names we could actually say and spell somewhat easily—just to show I was serious about the project. No, a chart doesn’t mean I’m serious. I chart my grocery lists.

Some of the names we rejected were:

    • Intercourse. There IS a town in Pennsylvania called Intercourse. I’ve been there! I also *might* have one of their signs in my garage. It was on the ground when my dad and I found it and took it home to live the other signs we’d *found* on the ground in various places up and down the east coast.
    • Stepford. It’s a light paranormal project, okay? And humorous. Yeah, right, I know.
    • Accident. This is another real place! I do not have the sign in my garage. I should get on that.
    • Avalon. What?
    • Left Hand. I might have been getting a little silly by this point.

In names we might actually have used were Beckford, Lochden, Willowdale and Aberwyth. We both liked Aberwyth, but it just didn’t feel right somehow. It was too small a name for the size of town we wanted. Aberwyth is a sleepy village of thatched-rooved cottages nestled in hills rolling with heather and gorse.

So what did we finally choose? Edgewater. It’s a fairly plain name, but it works for us for a number of reasons:

    • The Susquehanna River forms the western border of our town. So there is an edge on the water.
    • Edgewater is easy to spell and say.
    • There is a restaurant in Edgewater, New Jersey, that sells the best damn miso ramen on the east coast. I’ve taken Jenn there.
    • When Jenn and I used to role play together, we created an entire bannorn named Edgewater, populated it with some of our most beloved characters and wrote in that world for nearly three years.

So, it’s a sentimental choice, above all else, and when Jenn saw the name in my half of chapter one, she got a giggle out of it. That’s good enough for me!

~Kelly Jensen

About Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. At lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

You can chat with Kelly on Twitter @kmkjensen or visit her blog at http://kellyjensenwrites.com where she rambles on about anything and everything.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? ~ Outside the Margins with Kelly Jensen

  1. Thanks for sharing a piece of your writing process. I LOVE Chaos Station, so am excited you two are working a new series. 🙂

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