First off, thanks to uber-crit partner Susan over at Wastepaper Prose for the cool new blog design!
I’m about 48 hours away from starting serious revisions on my first novel for Tor, ROYAL STREET, so I thought I’d start easing through the manuscript highlighting trouble spots. I only got to the first sentence and there was my first trouble spot, and his name is Jean.
Now fiction writers in general, and especially writers of fantasy fiction, don’t have to worry so much about misspelling names, right? Except when there’s a historical character involved and that figure is going to be a major “playah” in one’s books.
So, here I am, pondering Jean Lafitte vs. Jean Laffite. My sexy undead pirate. I’ve read a lot of histories about him, and have blogged on him before. The amount of conflicting information is staggering. But now it’s “put up or shut up” time and I have to decide. How am I going to spell the man’s name?
Some historians, popular writers and the folks who name national parks and towns and bayous and such spell it “Lafitte.” So did the man himself…occasionally. More often, in documents I’ve seen, he spells it Laffite. He wasn’t stupid but he does seem prone to take great interest in his own image, so like all the Cindys who decided to become Cyndi, he’d vascillate between Lafitte and Laffite.
Finally, though, I guess I have to go with popular opinion. If I spell it Laffite, as Jean and many of his historians have, I’m sure to engender cries of outrage and accusations of gross spelling errors by all three of my readers.
So there you have it. Meet Jean Lafitte.