My novel-in-progress, Power of Boston, is a near-future SF thriller about a woman thrust into authority at Chaldin Energy and confronted by a villain who wants to destroy her reputation, her company, and the lives of thousands. While developing my ideas for this story, I encountered Serafina, the protagonist of my story.
Originally, I had planned on letting Serafina be an Italian-American, hence the name. As I have gotten to know her, though, I think that she is most likely of African descent, that her parents came to the US from Ethiopia, and that she was born to them here. The problem is, I don’t know Ethiopian culture well enough yet to tell her story properly. To that end, I’d like to toss out a few questions for consideration, and see what I can learn. To keep this post from getting too long, I’ll break it up into as many parts as it takes for me to know Serafina properly.
- I originally chose the Italian name “Serafina” because a serif is a particular kind of angel — beautiful, powerful, and sometimes scary. The boys’ name “Melaku” means Angel in Amharic, but I don’t know if there is a feminine equivalent, or if it carries the same undertones. Would Ethiopian parents have named a US-born daughter Serafina? If not, what equivalent might they have chosen?
- Serafina is a high-ranking executive in a US-based multinational corporation. Would her extended family be more likely, or less likely to accept this than an outsider would? What demands might they make on her that would conflict with the responsibilities of her job?
- Personal modesty is important to Serafina, but her work requires her to wear a pantsuit most of the time. How might she demonstrate her conservatism by her clothing and accessories? Is a headscarf appropriate? How might the fact that she is unmarried (and not seeking a spouse) affect the way she dresses for work?
My research is ongoing, but I covet any comments you may have on these initial questions. In future posts, I hope to discuss in greater detail Serafina’s relationship with her co-workers, her family, and any romantic interests she may encounter along the way.