Feb 21, 2013

Posted by in Interviews | 5 Comments

What’s In A Name? – part two

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Yesterday, I asked Jennifer Estep, Gena Showalter, Jenn Bennett, Cecy Robson and Gini Koch questions about character names.  Today, it’s up to these four ladies to answer my queries.

JayeWellsbluebloodedvampI asked Jaye Wells:  Why did you decide on the name Giguhl for your hilarious character who appears in your Sabina Kane series?  I also asked Jaye to tell us about her favorite character name from one of her books.

When I started writing RED-HEADED STEPCHILD I knew two things. First, I wanted the main character to be half-vampire and half-mage. Two, there had to be a hairless cat demon in the story.

Any Friends fans out there? There’s an episode where Rachel buys a hairless cat. Pretty quickly it becomes apparent the cat is evil. It wasn’t too far of a leap for my imagination to decide I needed to write about one who was actually evil—because he was a demon.

So I had this cat, who I knew was going to be Sabina’s sidekick. I also knew that I wanted this evil cat to be named Mr. Giggles because—hello? Awesome.

The problems started when this hairless cat showed up in a scene not as a cat, but as a seven-foot-tall green-scaled, horned Mischief demon. That wasn’t the first nor the last time that damned demon didn’t follow my explicit instructions. Then it hit me, what if this demon appears like an actual demon but can shape shift into the cat. Perfect!

I just needed a name. So I cheated. If Mr. Giggles was the nickname Sabina called him when he was a cat, then what was his real, demonic name going to be? The answer, obviously, was Giguhl. I basically took the word “Giggle” and made it more … demony.

Also, for the record, since I’m asked a lot—it’s pronounced “Gi-gool.”

As for my favorite character name, it has to be Valva. It’s so fun to say it out loud at readings and see people’s faces. 🙂

Up next for Jaye is the first book in a new series!  Dirty Magic, the first book The Prospero’s War series will release later this year.  I can’t wait to read it!

Carolyn Cranefire&iceI asked Carolyn Crane why she decided on Sterling Packard as the name for her main hero in her Disillusionists series.  I also asked her to tell us about her favorite character name that she writes.

I chose Sterling because of sterling silver – it’s something that is often tarnished on the outside but shiny on the inside, and can be polished up in certain circumstances. The Packard part of Sterling Packard came early on, I didn’t even think of him as the hero, but more of a controlling mastermind figure, and I had the character of a young Professor Charles Francis Xavier somewhat in mind, who was played by Patrick Stewart, who I know as Picard, so I came to call him Packard, just as a placeholder, and it stuck.

One of my favorite character names in the Disillusionists is Fawna Brady, the telepath. Fawna just dropped from the sky for me as a name. I don’t know if other girls are named that, but it seems mysteriously perfect for her. Fawna had a time of it in her youth and young adulthood, so she claimed Brady as her last name, taken from the idyllic TV family Brady Bunch.

Carolyn has been busy working on the prequel for her book Mr. Real.  You will be able to read Conjuring Max in the Fire & Ice anthology which will be releasing very soon.

amandabonillacravethedarknessI asked Amanda BonillaWhy did you choose Darian as the name for your heroine in your Shaede Assassin series?

Would Darian still be Darian if she wasn’t…Darian?

I agonize over character names. I stare at them on the page, say them out loud, compare the name to how I picture my character. I know a couple who legally changed their daughter’s name two days after her birth because she didn’t “look like a Hannah.” Why should naming a fictional character be any less agonizing?

I’ll admit that when I started writing SHAEDES OF GRAY, I actually borrowed Darian’s name from a story I’d begun to write when I was eighteen. See, I was sort of obsessed with Kathleen Woodiwiss at the time and was convinced that I needed to write an epic historical romance. The character in the story (which didn’t make it past 50 or so pages) looked very similar to Darian. They both had the same fiery dispositions and were insufferably independent. When the concept for the Shaedes series popped into my head, it seemed only natural to borrow the name since the character was a sort of reincarnation from a previously abandoned story. It’s definitely my favorite character name out of anything I’ve written, and I’d like to think that Darian’s characterization is worthy of the name.

But what’s in a name? Would Darian still be Darian if she wasn’t…well, Darian? What if I’d called her Betty or Jennifer? Could readers—or I—envision her as the smack-talking tough girl she is if I’d given her a name like Gretchen or Penelope? I’ve always considered Darian an oddity, a creature with no creed, a woman who feels like she’ll never belong to anyone or anything. I wanted her name to be as odd as she was. So to give her an unconventional name was a given for me. I wanted readers to react with, “What the hell kind of name is Darian?” or even, “Isn’t Darian a guy’s name?”

The name should fit the character to a tee and I think that Darian is a name with a lot of strength behind it. I can picture an assassin named Darian. I don’t think the delivery would have been as good with a moniker like, Becky Jenkins: Shaede Assassin. Likewise, with her penchant for black clothes and dramatic black duster, when I picture Darian, I always see her this way: dressed for battle and ready to kick some ass. If she’d had a more upbeat name like, say, Niki, I might associate her character with perfect blonde locks and a killer designer wardrobe. The name Darian has a nonchalance about it that says, I don’t care about “who I’m wearing” as long as it’s functional.

Of course, everyone’s perception is different. Whereas my Darian is hard, someone else might perceive the name as something that might belong to an heiress. And whereas I picture a cute, stylish Niki, another reader might associate the name with something completely kick ass and deadly.

Next up for Amanda is the third installment in her Shaede Assassin series.  Crave the Darkness is releasing March 5th 2013.  I’m extra lucky to have read it already and let me tell you all, it’s fabulous!

sierradeangravesecretI asked Sierra Dean why Secret is the name she decided on for her Secret McQueen series.  She also tells us about Desmond.

The one thing I hear about more than anything when it comes to my books is how unique my heroine’s name is.  Of course, when you name the poor girl “Secret” it’s hard for that not to be unique.

To anyone who missed the genesis of Secret McQueen’s moniker, in Something Secret This Way Comes it’s explained that her mother requested “keep her secret” in a letter to Secret’s beloved Grandmere. This request was taken very seriously, and she was literally kept a Secret.

There isn’t a crazy story behind my coming up with Secret’s name, I wish there was, but as silly as it is her name came to me in a dream. I woke up remembering the name and started writing about a 16 year old Secret.  The McQueen part people assume stems from my love of actor Steve McQueen, but I actually saddled Secret with the name before I’d ever seen my first Steve McQueen movie, so go figure! Those first pages eventually became 22 year old Secret relocated to New York.

What I like most about Secret in the world I’ve created is that no one takes her name at face value. People are aware of how different and unique it is, often commenting on it or assuming it’s an alias. I think sometimes unusual names get glossed over, and I know if I ever met someone named Secret I would do a double take and ask her if she was kidding me.

Because I use such a unique name for my heroine, I wanted the other characters in the story to have more balanced, re-world names. Lucas and Holden were the first characters to be named.

People might assume Desmond would be one of the originals, but he actually has the longest name story of the whole book. Original notes and chapters I have include three different variations of Desmond’s name. First he was Dominick (a name which eventually went to his brother) and later he became Dorian. Yes, Team Lime, you might have been rooting for Dorian. Eventually Desmond came out as the name and there was no looking back.

So go figure one of the most ordinary names in the book would be one of the hardest for me to settle on.

I think original names are great in fiction because it gives you something to latch onto to make a series more original. Secret will stand out in people’s minds. It wasn’t the reason I saddled her with the name, but I love to hear from people that it’s a memorable one.

Secret is back in Grave Secret.  This fifth installment in Sierra’s Secret McQueen series hits comes out March 15th.  Let me tell you, if you don’t fall down from shock when reading this one, I will envy you – because I fell off my chair at least twice.

So there you have it.  If you are curious like me about where character names come from, now you know where some of the best come from.  I am glad that these authors chose the names that they did because they really all suit the wonderful characters they have created. 

I want to say a big THANK YOU to Jennifer, Gena, Jenn, Cecy, Gini, Jaye, Amanda, Carolyn and Sierra for taking to time to share their stories with us.  🙂

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  1. Names are by far some of the hardest things to get right. I’ve passed up reading a book because the main character’s name was “Jewelia”. Come on. Just use “Julia” and get over yourself. (I fully admit to being too picky, too!)

    Love Mr. Giggles aka Giguhl. And Valva’s a GREAT name! See, those kind of names I like because they work for the story, the character and even add a bit of humor.

  2. A rose is just a rose!!! I love the names I’ve read about and always wondered how authors can find so many different versions!

  3. How fun to see everybody’s naming stories!

  4. Thank you for sharing with us the stories behind the names, I enjoyed learning more about them 🙂

  5. It’s true Darian is the perfect name for her, thank you for this interesting post! And I was also very curious about Giguhl, it’s so not common. thank you!!

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