In the first chapter of The Hidden Valley of Oz by Rachel R. Cosgrove (Payes), we meet the main character, a little boy who’s busy building a kite. The boy is called Jam. On page two we learn that
Jam was really only his nickname. His full name was Jonathan Andrew Manley, so his initials spelled “Jam.”Creating a nickname from a person’s initials isn’t unknown, but it’s fairly rare in real life. However, it isn’t all that rare in Rachel Cosgrove Payes’s fiction. Consider this passage on page twelve of Rachel’s romance novel Long Journey Home (1962), from the middle of a scene between the main character Ellen Leona Ford and her Uncle Simon.
Even that foolish nickname Elf was so unsuited
to her, she thought. Uncle Simon had started it
years ago, because the initials of her full name
spelled “elf,” but there was nothing magic
about Ellen and she would be the first to
Two instances might be coincidence, but a name created from the initials of her main character turns up yet again in Rachel's books. In chapter eight of her gothic novel The Black Swan (1975) the main character Lady Margarita Elena Godoy loses her memory when her head is injured in a fall. She can’t remember any of her past. In the pocket of her dress she finds a patchbox given to her by her lover, although she can’t remember where it came from.
It was a beautiful little enameled box, with silver sides, exquisitely engraved. Turning it around in her fingers, she saw that there were initials on the box, initials formed of delicate white roses: M E G.Then on page forty-nine, when a woman asks Lady Margarita her name, we read that
Recognizing peril in the woman’s words, she swallowed hard, trying to get rid of the lump of fear that was lodged in her throat. Who was she? She didn’t know. Then, she thought of the letters on the box hidden in her pocket. They spelled a common name.Rachel obviously wasn’t one to let a good idea go to waste. But once a decade might have been enough, since I've yet to find this naming convention in any of her other books. But there are still plenty of books to go, so we’ll see if she ever did it again.
“Of course I know who I am.” She put as much hauteur in her voice as she could muster. “My name is Meg.”