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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Author Insight: What's in a name?

What’s in a name? Is it just that or is it as important as the traits attached to that character?

"I love names. There are readers who scoff at the names I give my characters but I guess they must be folks who surround themselves with very, very normal friends from very lame backgrounds. Even though I've named my characters Ade, Vauxhall, Jimi, etc. these aren't the most bizarre names I've encountered. Heck, my kids have stranger names." - K. Ryer Breese, author of Future Imperfect

"For me, a name is just a name. I firmly believe you can call a character any name you want. Eeny, meany, miny, mo. Honestly, it’s just a name. The name does not define the character, the same as a name does not define an individual. You are what you make yourself. You can give a character the plainest, most non-descript name and make that character into an ass-kicking ninja." - Leigh Fallon, author of The Carrier of the Mark. 

"Names are important to me, but I don’t look up their meanings or anything. And they do have to have a nickname. I like nicknames a lot." - Elana Johnson, author of Possession. 

"Names are very important to me. I use a baby name book and often pick names based on their meaning, but sometimes I base them on the feel the name gives me which is harder to explain, but my characters wouldn't be my characters with different names." - Stephanie Kuehnert, author of Ballads of Suburbia. 

"I like names that suit characters and names that are memorable. Sometimes I have to search for the right name, and I’ll flip through any printed material I have by my desk. (Ian and Cornelia Ducharme’s last name came from a gardening magazine.) Some names come more instinctively. Milagro de Los Santos, the heroine of my Casa Dracula books, took a little more work. I was trying to think of a memorable and funny name that played into the books’ themes. Milagro is often always annoyed with her name, which means “miracle of the saints,” but eventually she learns to accept it. The main character in my next book, a Young Adult gothic that will be published by Tor in 2012, is named Jane Williams. I called her Jane in homage to Jane Eyre, and picked Williams because it is one of the most common names in the U.S." - Marta Acosta, author of  Haunted Honeymoon.

"I do think names are important, they need to fit the character and every so often a character’s name changes by the end of the book.  I collect name; I have lists from Baby-Name books and I steal from movie credits for last names." - Alyxandra Harvey, author of Haunting Violet.

"For me, the name is important. It often just comes to me, or feels right, but I like researching names so that they have alternate meanings. I think names reflect something essentially true about the character him/herself." - Dawn Metcalf, author of Luminous

"The outline.  I think it’s the hardest thing to get right." - Josephine Angelini, author of Starcrossed
"Sometimes I’ve stuck what I call a 'holding' name on a character while I ponder what their real name is, and then I can’t call them anything else – they have become that name. And sometimes a character just starts as a name and traits cluster around it." - Alison Goodman, author of Eona

"A name is everything. I researched Greek names for the Mephisto brothers. They all have a certain meaning that reflects their personalities. If they were Ed and Bob instead of Ajax and Phoenix…yeah, just not the same." - Trinity Faegen, author of The Mephisto Covenant

"All my characters have reasons behind their names, or at least all the major ones. It can be something that is obvious and means something to everyone or something that only holds personal meaning for me." - Emma Michaels, author of The Thirteenth Chime.

 "The name definitely sets a tone. A Quince is definitely a different character than a Hubert. But I do think that a character can take possession of a name and their traits can turn it into something new and different." - Tera Lynn Childs, author of Sweet Venom

"Character names are important to me - I can spend a lot of time trying to find a name that "feels right." On the other hand, I can write without them. Many of my first drafts just use a first letter or a blank space to indicate a character, pending my figuring out what his/her name is." - Leah Cypess, author of Nightspell

Stop by Thursday to find out what the rest of the author's think is the importance of a name.
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