This week, in honour of Celebrate Your Name Week, we are talking about names. No, not baby names, but character names. So read along to find out how the leading characters in some of your favourite gay romance novels got their names and some of the struggles we authors face when choosing the perfect moniker for our heroes.
How do you go about choosing the name of your characters?
I’m totally process oriented so I keep a list of names I like and mark them off when I’ve used them. I gather the names from various sources – names of friends and colleagues, names I hear in the media or stumble across in other books. I also google when necessary, particularly if I’m trying to find a name of a specific nationality. In terms of selecting the name, I choose a name I think most reflects my character. That’s probably influenced by my own experiences – I’m not going to name my sweet MC after the bully I knew at school. 🙂 ~ Nic
Like Nic, I keep a list of names. They’re favourite names, names that I collect here and there because I’d like to use them, names of people I like. My favourite cousins. It’s not particularly long, but the names on my list are precious. I use them sparingly because they’ll only get one life, then they’re retired. ~ Kelly
I’ll often look for inspiration in a poem or a popular saying. Or search lists of baby names of all ethnicities and sources, looking for the right sound and meaning. Much like the other authors here! For example, Maen in my fantasy novel Branded came from the Welsh word for “rock”, Niall in my suspense thriller 72 hours means “champion”, Red in my romance Flying Colors is a nickname for Richard, meaning “powerful leader”. I like to play with the names! ~ Clare
What are the most difficult things about choosing a name?
Coming up with a name I haven’t used before! Seriously, my brain seems to present me with the same list of names for every book I write. Or I can only think of names starting with the same letter. I seem to lean towards using A names and J names. No idea why but that’s why I need to keep a list. 🙂 My most important priority is a name that matches my character’s personality and ethnicity. I also try to give my two main characters ‘opposite’ names. For example, if one name is sort, the other is long. Or if one starts with a consonant, I might give the other one a name beginning with a vowel. ~ Nic
Having a name that suits my character is really important to me. I’ve written a complete story with two names I really liked, only to have to switch them on my first revision round because although they were good names, they didn’t quite fit. They just didn’t sound right. It’s hard to describe, but they didn’t feel like a Fin and a Jared. I tried swapping their names. Fin became Jared, and Jared became Fin, and suddenly they fit. In my current WIP, I had a hard time finding a good name for my second hero. He eventually named himself, which happens often enough that I tend to go with it when it happens. ~ Kelly
I seem to land on A & J most often, too. So, apparently it’s not just me?! Someone pointed out recently I’d used Aiden in 4 books so far, albeit different spellings. A problem is that a lot of my books now are set in Britain and, to be honest, we don’t have quite the same whimsy in creating names as other nations do! I often revert to tried and true biblical names, like the apostles (not Nebuchadnezzar or Methuselah!). I also find I get bogged down with certain initials for certain characters e.g. the alpha character will be B / M / N / R, but that can be very restricting. And bizarre, really 🙂 ~ Clare
What is the most unusual name you’ve used in a book?
My next release (Lies & Deception, Dreamspinner Press, June/July) features outlaw motorcycle gangs. Naming the motorcycle clubs was difficult enough in itself but then I had to name the characters and give them all bikie nicknames. Thank goodness for MC blogs where members talk about the background to their names! Characters in my story includes Rabbit, Stack, Blue and Ginger. ~ Nic
In my upcoming release (To See the Sun, Riptide Publishing, August), one of the heroes is named Gael. It’s not a wholly unusual name, but it’s different and I think quite beautiful. When I’m writing sci-fi, I like to use names that are unusual but still easy to spell and say. As an avid reader of speculative fiction, I’ve puzzled out enough names full of consonants and apostrophes to never want to inflict them on my own readers. Another favourite is Steilang Skovgaard from Uncommon Ground. He’s an alien (of the Skov clan) and chose the closest human equivalent to his real name (unpronounceable, of course) upon his arrival. When I’m not writing sci-fi, I tend to pick simple, ordinary names. I kinda love them. ~ Kelly
Yes, I agree that you can use more imagination in SF or fantasy. Maybe the most exotic I ever used was Mori in my speculative story Threadbare. He was named after a silkworm! ~ Clare
What are the names of the main characters in your next book?
Coming in August, I have To See the Sun with Gael Sonnen and Abraham Bauer. I spent a lot of time picking these names and I love them. I love their story, too! Dillon and Lang (Steilang) return this summer as well in Purple Haze. ~ Kelly
My current book Freeman is a fab example of the working-name-that-stuck-for-good, for both the main narrator and the book title. The younger man he befriends is called Kit – and there’s a mystery to that name, too, but you’ll have to read the book to find out :). I’m working on my next Dreamspun Desire books at Dreamspinner Press called The Undercover Millionaire, where my billionaire Alexandre happily uses a shortened name Alex for his undercover role, until he meets Tate, a young man he really want to be honest with! ~ Clare
We’re going to be doing a lot more Behind The Scenes posts so if you have any questions you’d like answered, let us know in the comments and we’ll hopefully get to them in the near future.
Happy reading xx