Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Would a Rose Smell as Sweet?"

A site called Alternative-Read run by a lady across the Pond called Sassy Brit has started a featured called a “blog hop” on Thursdays.  She asks a question and you answer it on your blog, place your link on her site, and then comment on other authors’ answers.  By the time I finished my answer, I realized it was almost eight p.m. Central Time—rather late to participate, but I decided to use the post anyway.  This is going on my calendar and I will post earlier next week.  Meanwhile, this week’s question was, “How important are the names of your characters, or for that matter, the titles of your books?”

“What’s in a name?”  Juliet asked that question when she realized Romeo was the son of her father’s arch-enemy.  If only his last name wasn’t Capulet, they could have such a wonderful life together.  Instead, they had a wonderful death together.

How do I name my characters?  Apparently not as carefully as Shakespeare.  Actually, how did he name his characters?  Where did he get names like Shylock or Portia or Montague or Capulet?  If these people lived in “Fair Verona” why didn’t they have Italian names?

I sort of pull my characters’ names out of the air.  My heroines’ names so far are names I would have given my daughters if I’d had more girls.  Well, I would have loved to have had a Kristen (the heroine of Crystal Lady, my WIP).  I ended up with a Christine—it was her father’s turn to choose a name and he came close.  Katie was another name I liked.  She’s the heroine of Rock Crazy.  Rock Bound, most of my characters have family names or close to them.  Even the villain is a family name of sorts.  And it is a total coincidence that it fit so well.

The villain is a dictator who takes over the United States.  One of my characters has been protesting his ecological policies from the very beginning.  In one scene she says something like, “Freezeland’s been living up to his name.  By the time he’s through, we won’t have any land left.”  Honestly, I was just lucky that my daughters’ ex-laws’ last name is Freezeland.  They were flattered when they realized I used their name in my book.  I hope if they’re reading this they won’t get angry that he’s the villain.

After I used up the family last names, I started looking them up in the White Pages. I would open the book, close my eyes, and point.  But I’m not sure we even have a White Pages anymore, so now I go online.  All of those sites have meanings with the names, so now I think more about who the character is and try to find a last name that reflects those traits.  When I was looking for a maiden name for Katie, I realized she probably shouldn't be Irish if she was married to a Scott.  Even in 2066 that may not be a good combination.  She's volatile enough without a history of Scottish/Irish conflict. 

As for the title, that’s extremely important.  It has to give you an idea of what the book is about.  My tag lines for Rock Bound and Rock Crazy both mention “that God-forsaken rock the Moon.”  Neither of my heroines particularly wants to be there.  At least not for the reasons they end up there.  Annie Peterson is on the Moon as a slave.  Katie McGowan’s husband takes her to the Moon and divorces her as a tough love scheme to get her to have brain surgery to control her bi-polar disorder. Crystal Lady is the name of the song Sean Wesley, the hero of the book writes for Kristin.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the names of your characters and why..I always wonder if the Gloria you know would be the same kind of person as the Glorias I know. Surely the Victorias you and I know can't all be classy, elegant women. But somehow certain names evoke the same personality universally. Why is Chad always a handsome, muscular guy? I don't know. But names are a lot of fun..