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The Story of Oton

Posted by Lex Fonteyne on March 24, 2010 at 12:47 PM

People ask where I get my character names from.  Sometimes I just use the  names of people I know, and just  alter them a little for legal reasons!  Other times, I think of what the character might look like and then try to come up with a name that fits the image I see.


Teresa in Moving Day and Lyndsey in True Colors are both named after real people,  Melissa Panadecker in Perfectly Frank is named after my friend Melissa from Mingle; I thought making her character the granddaughter of the original Mr. Backenfort was a nifty (albeit not really necessary) tie-in.


But what about Oton, the Xavlan/Neptunian mastermind behind the whole Moving Day oddity?  Where did his name come from?


Well, I've never told anyone this, but here's the story.


There used to be an Arby's on Sibley Blvd. in Dolton, Illinois.  I don't know whether business went bad, or if the guy just decided to retire, or what, but he finally closed it down.  He left a message on the sign, though.  It said THANK YOU DOLTON.


Several years passed, and the sign was left untended.  There was a day when a friend and I were driving down Sibley; now the sign read THANK YOU OTON.  The D and the L had been stolen, or had fallen off, or whatever.


I said, "Thank you, Oton?  Who is Oton?"


My friend said, "Sounds like some ancient god no one knows about anymore.  Or maybe an alien."


When I was writing Moving Day, I needed a name for an alien character.  I was originally going to call him Vilo (if you're read Moving Parts, you'll have noticed that I eventually did use the name Vilo for a different alien), but then I remembered THANK YOU OTON.


And now you know  the rest of the story....


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