Before I get hate mail and start being haunted by the ghost of the outlaw Jesse James, let me quickly say this was something my son said to me a year or so back – and he’s young enough that you can’t send him hate mail. I’ve seen one or two review comments along similar lines, and one reviewer thought Jess was female even after reading the book, so I thought it was a subject worth covering.
Oh, and this post is Spoiler Free – so you can safely read it even if you haven’t picked up any of the Wanderer Books. Though if that’s the case, why not grab Wanderer’s Escape for free? (Find the links here)
So, why Jess?
The honest answer is there’s no specific reason. I wanted a short, punchy name to fit with the world of the (at that time) short story. Jess fit the bill. Matt and Sal’s names follow the same pattern.
Did Jess start out female?
No. Jess was always male, it wasn’t a case of picking the name then changing the characters sex.
Did you consider the confusion it might cause?
It never occurred to me. Naming a young man Jess felt natural. I didn’t think about it at the time but to me it’s one of those names that can be male or female. The perfect example is Jesse James – yes it’s Jesse rather than Jess but I can imagine someone shortening his name to Jess… possibly just the once!
Would you change the name if you could?
No. Definitely not. After three books (well, four for me) Jess is Jess. If he had a different name he wouldn’t be the same character, even if he did exactly the same things.
Do you have any regrets about the name?
No regrets, but the name has one feature that has caused me some head scratching. It ends in (double) s. That led to a lot of research to try and decide whether the possessive should be Jess’ or Jess’s (or something else).
After a lot of research the answer seems to be that there is no clear answer. Some sources say Jess’, some say Jess’s and many say that either spelling is valid. In the end Jess’s just felt better to me, but that’s probably got a lot to do with my Essex accent.
What do you all think?
Did you find Jess’s name confusing at all? Do you agree with using Jess’s for the possessive or does it grate every time you read it? Or are you a Jess yourself?
Leave a comment and let me know what you think…