Naming A Series After Birds – By Kristy McCaffrey
I wrote my first novel, The Wren, more than ten years ago. I was a young stay-at-home mom with four kids all under the age of five running amuck. I’d been writing since I was seven years old, but I didn’t envision penning a novel until I was too tired from mothering to realize that what I was about to attempt would be tremendously difficult, yet so rewarding. Not much different than becoming a mom, right?
I’m sometimes asked how I came up with the titles for my Wings of the West series. The simple version is that they just came to me, which for the most part is true. I’ve long known the titles, and the order in which they appear, before I had a clear picture of characters and storylines—The Wren, The Dove, The Sparrow, The Blackbird, and the final installment, The Bluebird. But there are deeper meanings as well.
Many years ago I enjoyed a television show called “Ned Blessing: The Story of My Life and Times,” starring Brad Johnson. Maybe some of you remember it. A recurring character was a woman in town—a soiled dove—who was secretly in love with Ned. She was called “the Wren.” For some reason, that stuck with me when, years later, I began developing my Old West series. In my story, however, the heroine, Molly, isn’t a prostitute (that theme is addressed in the next book, the aptly titled The Dove). As a child Molly is quite adept with a slingshot, which she’s named “the Wren” because she believes that the rocks she uses may have been dropped by wrens. Rock Wrens have a habit of leaving a stone path to their nests. This encompasses the broader theme of Molly trying to find her way home after she was thought dead at the hands of the Comanche ten years prior.
In the second book, The Dove, I dealt with the well-used theme of prostitution. The heroine in this story, Claire, lives in a saloon run by her mama. While Claire herself isn’t a soiled dove, she still faces the decisions many women face—does she live a life for herself or for others? How many times do women prostitute themselves because they don’t feel they’re worthy, or they perceive they have no choice? How do we ‘use’ others to gain our own ends?
In The Sparrow, my heroine Emma undergoes a shamanic journey of initiation while traversing the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. During this process, she is helped by her power animal, Sparrow. I will admit, this novel took a strange turn, but I did my best to follow the bones laid before me and write the story as best I could. Sparrows are known as common birds who speak to the inherent magnificence that can be present in all of us. As I wrote the tale, I knew this bird encompassed perfectly the tone of Emma’s pilgrimage.
In The Blackbird, I found a Tennyson quote that mentions blackbirds. The heroine, Tess, while of Mexican descent also has an Irish papa and through him a connection to Tennyson. Blackbirds are mystical birds, linking us to the world of enchantment. Tess is a storyteller, a Keeper of the Old Ways; this is, and always has been, connected with imparting wisdom and magic to listeners through the telling of tales.
The last book, The Bluebird, is still a work-in-progress, but I have faith that the pieces will reveal themselves in time. This story jumps ahead several years and features Molly Rose, niece to the first Molly from The Wren. While the bird references have helped to shape the series, I always knew I’d begin with a Molly and end with a Molly, which was the nickname of my great-grandmother.
Into The Land Of Shadows
Lassoing A Groom ~ “Canyon Crossing”
Cowboy Cravings ~ “Lily and Mesquite Joe”
Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico Vol. 2 ~ “The Crow and the Coyote”
Cowboy Kisses ~ “A Westward Adventure”
Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. She’s the author of several historical western romances, all set in the American southwest. She lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, two chocolate labs, and whichever of their four teenaged children happen to be in residence. She loves to travel and frequently blogs about her adventures.