Originally McGee’s first name was to have been Dallas. Then John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and MacDonald didn’t want to have that association. When he was casting about for a new name, fellow writer MacKinlay Kantor suggested that Air Force bases had nice-sounding names, and MacDonald settled on Travis.
Various means were considered to enable readers to distinguish one book from another in the series. Use of numbers was rejected because readers might think they had to read them in sequence. Eventually he and his publisher came up with color, and MacDonald went back and dropped color references into the four manuscripts he already had written.
MacDonald placed McGee across Florida in Fort Lauderdale because he had a hunch the books would catch on and didn’t want his privacy in Sarasota disturbed by gawking McGee enthusiasts.