• Grace A. Johnson

Name of the Week: Jessica


Jessica is the most complicated name I've posted about so far. For one, I simply could not find a picture relating to the definition of her name, so I just settled for this one. It's pretty, at least.

For two, it has a very interesting background that, in some respects, would make it an odd name for my character, Jessica Bennet (née Arlington). Of course, I have a very good reason for my Stuart-era lady to have been named such. Simply put, her mother had an obsession with Shakespeare. Therefore, her children born names according to her fancy. Therefore, Damian's middle name is Caius (and he also happens to share a byname with a famous English stage actor, so...)

Jessica is actually Hebrew.

Betcha you didn't see that coming, did ya?

Before The Merchant of Venice, Jessica was known by the Hebrew יִסְכָּה (Yiskah), which meant "to behold." Yiskah evolved into Iscah, which morphed into Jescha around Shakespeare's time. For the daughter of Shylock, he selected this Jewish name and tweaked it a bit, coming up with Jessica. As a matter of fact, Shakespeare made up quite a number of our now-beloved names.

Yiskah is only found once in the Bible, as Abraham's niece in the Old Testament. Jessica was rarely used until the 20th century. And we all know how it rose to popularity then, don't we? Now, many variants of the name are found in languages such as Albanian, Spanish, Danish, Hungarian, Swedish, Hawaiian, and more.

I have absolutely no idea why I chose Jessica for the name of Xavier's mother. Originally, it was his grandmother's name, and Joanna was his mother's (after I changed it from Engal, of course), but now I've swapped them around. Surprisingly, the name has fit so well, and just as it is unconventional for my character's time, Jessica is also an unconventional heroine.

And, yes, that means she will be a heroine. I plan to write stories for both her and her brother Damian in the future, expanding my Seven Seas universe and creating my prequel/companion series for the Daughters of the Seven Seas series, which is titled The Arlington Family. So far, my only installment is The Gift of Her Heart. (Which you can read an excerpt from here!)

I have a tentative blurb for Jessica's novel, if anyone's interested...

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Lady Jessica Arlington is on the run.

Running from her parents’ looming wrath, her fiance’s overbearing hand, and her social ruin, this young lady’s first chance of escape is on board a ship destined for the British colonies of America. Her one and only thought is to find safety for her child.

And being captured by the most notorious pirate captain on the Seven Seas is

not Jessica’s idea of safety.

Captain Collin Bennet has long since turned his back on his family, their pious society, and their God, and turned towards the life of a pirate. But never, in all his six years of pirating, has he had the pleasure of capturing the delightfully irritating Lady Jessica Arlington along with a merchant ship full of goodies.

But neither did he realize that he would be capturing much more than the lady herself.

___________________________________


To tide us all over until my first Arlington Family novel, Capturing Her Heart, arrives, I have a little treat: a poem I wrote especially for Jessica.

It began with a few lines several months ago, which I knew I would have Collin turn into a poem (yes, he's a poet...he just doesn't know it...yet). However, I entered a poetry contest a while ago, and I expanded those few lines into the below. (Note: I am not a very good poet; you can tell by (1) the quality of this poem and (2) the fact that I did not win said contest. Bear with me.)

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“Veiled in Stone” or “Jessica”

(Previously titled “Helpless”)


What a sorry sight it was

The tears upon her face

Each salty stain a symbol of

Her rapid fall from grace

Her cheeks were red and sullen

Her eyes were green as grass

Sodden with dew and trampled

The teardrops crystal glass

As I watched her trembling there

My heart it did constrict

But there was nothing I could do

Not even a hug would do the trick

Such pain was irreversible

It ne’er would disappear

Not within a day or month

Not even in a year


And so I stared in silence

Oddly unabashed

Quizzing, wond’ring

As many seconds passed


She slowly lifted up her head

To meet my solemn gaze

She sniffled once, twice again

Blinked to clear her haze


Without a thought, it all was gone

Each remnant of her past

Each hurt and each curse

Each and every last

Where had the tear stains gone? I wondered

What had happened to her pain?

Would it be that if I sought

The teardrops would remain?


If I tore the layers back

Would I find them deep inside

In a crevice long untouched

Where haunting demons hide?


Would anything have changed, indeed?

True, this was my thought

That all her smiling and all her trying

Would have been for naught

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