Many authors create fictitious names of businesses, entertainers, institutions and others in order to avoid using famous names without permission. It also helps not to use famous names of places, people, and things so it would not sound like an author is trying to misrepresent the like by the way they write about, whether intended or not.
I certainly did this when I created Richmond College in “The Dark Proposal”, the higher ed institution on Staten Island, where Claire graduated and worked part-time at, met her two friends, Samantha and Monica, and of course, met vampire Daniel Bertrand there. I clearly didn’t have the resources to use an actual college on Staten Island, nor did I want to ruffle any feathers. So I made up a name.
Well, to be honest, not really. Richmond College used to be an actual institution on Staten Island, starting in 1965. It merged with Staten Island Community College in 1976 to become the College of Staten Island, which these days is part of the City University of New York (CUNY). I chose this name for Claire’s school because I wanted something authentically Staten Island for my book, since I aim to bring attention to the borough where I was born and raised in.
While also aiming to have something related to Staten Island, I chose an actual college on Staten Island as the setting for Richmond College. Meaning, in my mind, I used an actual campus. That college campus is that of Wagner College, until recently, the only school with dorms on the Island. I once taught ESL one summer at Wagner, and it is a very lovely campus, sitting atop of the highest part of Staten Island. Since I needed a college with dorms for “The Dark Proposal”, and in 2012, the year I wrote the book, Wagner was the only one with that, I chose its campus as the setting. Whenever I visualize Richmond College for my book, I picture Wagner College.
So, there you have it. The Real Richmond College(s).