It’s a sign…
Last fall in a fit of inspiration I decided that instead of stock photos and clip art for my non-fiction titles, I should just purchase a nice camera and take my own photos. Since I have a line of credit with Dell (don’t ask – I’m addicted to Dell) I went online and got myself a snappy Cannon Rebel T3i with a cool telephoto lens.
The camera came in the mail about a week later and off I went to the park to see if I could catch nature in action on a misty November morning. I got to the park and starting shooting some pine trees because I was about to write a unit on evergreens and I needed examples of bark, roots, cones, and needles. I also snapped all kinds of pictures of crows, light through the leaves, aspens, and bugs (telephoto isn’t a macro, but it works to a certain degree). I even got a cool one of a magpie in flight. But it was the image of one plump little bird sitting on a fence that caught my eye when I went home and previewed my morning's work.
It was a small brown sparrow-like bird with a pinkish hue and it was just so darn cute I had to know what it was. I spent the entire day trying to identify that bird. I went to umpteen different websites and I scoured the Cornell ornithology database, looking and searching for this adorable bird that was holding me captive. I did random searches on Colorado sparrows and I almost started sending the thing to bird experts around the country. Luckily I stopped my obsession around dinnertime and decided to move on.
A whole day wasted on this dumb little bird.
Well, a few months later I was choosing names for my next fiction project and since my characters have wings I decided to use bird names. So off I went to the Cornell ornithology website to find some cool bird names. I found a lot actually, and I made a long list. I had Plover, Tern, Wren, Starling, Flicker, Ibis, Junco – all sorts of names. But there was only one on that list that kept coming back to me – Junco. I had no idea what a junco was, so I looked it up.
And guess what I found? Yes, that’s right. That little sparrow photo I took a few months before was in fact, a junco. A dark-eyed, pink-sided junco - better known as the snowbird.
I cannot for the life of me imagine my main character’s name being anything other than Junco. Who knows, maybe she’d still be called that even if I never took that photo, but once I identified the little bird, I knew it was a sign.
J. A. Huss writes science books (both fiction and non-fiction). She lives in Colorado with her two donkeys, five dogs, more chickens and ducks than she can count, and of course, the real filthy animals, her kids. The I Am Just Junco series was born after falling in love with the ugliest part of Colorado and the Rural Republic is based on the area of the state she currently resides in, minus the mutants, of course.