Names are very important to Raskin and these notes show her attempts to find just the right names for a few of the characters.
Characters and Their Clues
Paper clues are given to each character in the novel. Due to the complexity of this puzzle mystery, Raskin made up a list of corresponding clues and characters for the copy editor.
Thinking about the Title
Raskin had originally wanted to call the book Eight Imperfect Pairs of Heirs but was afraid “imperfect” would become a catchphrase for critics. This page shows the author playing around with different title variants. It also shows an early sketch for the jacket art.
Research on Fireworks
Since there are fireworks in the book, Raskin did research to make sure she had the right colors and accurate descriptions of different types of fireworks.
Research on Detectives
One of the characters hires a detective to seek on information on the other heirs so Raskin needed to have background information about where a detective would look for information.
Research on Wisconsin Judges
One of the characters was originally an appeals judge but Raskin learned there was no such thing in Wisconsin, where the book is set, so she had to find out what the equivalent would be.
The Last Will and Testament of Samuel W. Westing
Raskin wrote out Samuel W. Westing’s complete will, which appears in excerpts throughout the novel.
In her presentation, Raskin describes this as a “red herring.” Read at your own risk!
Checklist of Characteristics
These are the author’s notes to herself with descriptive details about each character in the book, so she wouldn’t use the same adjective twice.
Pictures of Turtle and Angela from Raskin’s Swipe File
Raskin kept a swipe file, or file cabinet of photographs clipped from magazines, to use as a reference for her illustrations. Here are the photos that she used to envision two sisters in the book, Turtle and Angela.