What’s In A Name?


BenI’m glad to welcome Author Margaret Locke here to share insights into the names of characters  and a little about her new paranormal romantic comedy.

Margaret: When you read a novel, how much attention do you pay to character names? (***Beth: A lot!)

Names give characters flavor right from the start. Certain names just sound like certain kinds of characters, right? Heroes are rarely Eugenes or Nesbits, and villains usually boast better monikers than Joe or Bob. Melodious, flowing names render characters more appealing, whereas crisp, crackling names give the opposite impression.

While I’ve always appreciated interesting – but not too ludicrous – names in the romances I read, I’d never really thought much about why authors chose particular names (beyond the associations above) – until I had to come up with character names myself.

Choosing the perfect name for each character in A Man of Character was both thrilling and daunting. Thrilling, because of the possibilities in terms of (more or less) subconscious associations, and because I could choose names I loved. Daunting, because people react strongly to names, and I feared giving a main character a name readers hated!

Here’s a little insight into the names of the main characters in A Man of Character:

Grayson

Catherine Schreiber – I’ve always loved the nickname “Cat,” partly, I’m sure, because of my affection for felines. What better name to use for my main character? The crispness of her nickname reflects the sharper edges of Cat, whereas the full name showcases her softer side. And Schreiber? Schreiber means “writer” in German.

Eliza James – Cat’s best friend is a Jane Austen aficionado, so I had give her a name that calls Miss Austen to mind, right? Eliza is in homage to Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice fame, and James reminded me not only of Jane, but sounded quite British, indeed.

Ben Cooper – Ah, Ben. The affable computer science professor who’s definitely not an alpha male. I wanted a good, friendly name that was neither dominant, nor weak. Benjamin also worked well in a favorite scene of mine, excerpted below. As for Cooper? That’s my hat tip to one of my favorite characters, Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory fame.

old love letter with rosesDerrick Gibson – The star quarterback. I needed a suitably 80s/early 90s name that could be shortened (if you read the book, you’ll know why). And Gibson? Well, one of the popular football players in my high school had the last name Gibson. It fit.

Grayson Phillips – Grayson. The seductive poetry-quoting grad student. No ordinary name would do for this fellow. A friend got me addicted to the show “Drop Dead Diva” around the same time I was name-brainstorming. Since the show featured a handsome fellow named Grayson, I figured I’d borrow it – good associations and all. Phillips? That’s that same friend’s last name, so it was my way of honoring her.

William Dawes – I remember sitting in Panera, hands hovering over the keyboard as I struggled to come up with a name for this wealthy investment manager. It needed to be traditional, yet not stodgy. The only name that kept popping into my head was Richard Dawson – yes, the Richard Dawson of Family Feud fame. I giggled at the image, but that name obviously wasn’t the right one. However, shortening Dawson to Dawes, and borrowing the very regal William, did the trick.

And there you go! Pretty much every name in A Man of Character, even down to the cats, has meaning for me, but I’ll stop at these main ones.

dark red rose budI’d love to hear from you!

As a reader, how much do character names matter to you?

Is having insight into character names valuable, or would you rather draw your own conclusions and associations (given the content of this post, I’m rather hoping the former, but want honest answers, anyway)?

Does the name make the character, or the character influence associations with the name?

If you’re a writer, how much thought do you put into name choices?

Finally, what are some of your favorite fictional character names – and why?

AMOCCoverA Man of Character blurb:

What would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?

Thirty-five-year-old Catherine Schreiber has shelved love for good. Keeping her ailing bookstore afloat takes all her time, and she’s perfectly fine with that. So when several men ask her out in short order, she’s not sure what to do…especially since something about them seems eerily familiar.

A startling revelation – that these men are fictional characters she’d created and forgotten years ago – forces Cat to reevaluate her world and the people in it. Because these characters are alive. Here. Now. And most definitely in the flesh.

Her best friend, Eliza, a romance novel junkie craving her own Happily Ever After, is thrilled by the possibilities. The power to create Mr. Perfect – who could pass that up? But can a relationship be real if it’s fiction? Caught between fantasy and reality, Cat must decide which – or whom – she wants more.

Blending humor with unusual twists, including a magical manuscript, a computer scientist in shining armor, and even a Regency ball, A Man of Character tells a story not only of love, but also of the lengths we’ll go for friendship, self-discovery, and second chances.

rosesExcerpt from A Man of Character:

“That’s a fantastic book,” she commented, hoping he hadn’t been able to hear her previous conversation. She didn’t like the idea of anyone hearing details of her sex life. Well, potential sex life, anyway.

“Is it? I started it this morning,” came a deep voice in reply. He ran his fingers over the cover. “It was a gift from my parents. They delight in sending me anything related to Benjamin Franklin.”

“Really? Why?”

A sheepish expression crossed his face. “Because they named me after him. My parents are obsessed with colonial America. My mom’s a proud member of the D.A.R., and claims a number of our ancestors served during the Revolutionary War.”

Cat grinned. “Do you have a brother named Jefferson?”

“No.” His lips thinned, and his eyes squeezed shut for a moment. “He was George Washington, actually.”

Recognizing that all-too-familiar look of loss, Cat impulsively reached over and rubbed his hand to soothe him. When his eyes dropped to her fingers, she pulled them away. What had come over her, touching a stranger like that?’~

***Fascinating, Margaret. Thanks!

You can find A Man of Character here:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/AManOfCharacter

Anne2About Margaret Locke:

As a teen, Margaret Locke pledged to write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things, not penning steamy love stories. Yeah, whatever. Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader. Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fab kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window; she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person). Please visit her at margaretlocke.com. She’s also often hanging out on Facebook, GoodReads, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Rose LetterWebsite: http://margaretlocke.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/AuthorMargaretLocke

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/MargaretLocke

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Margaret_Locke

15 responses to “What’s In A Name?

  1. I always wonder what makes an author chose the name they have for a character. The more unique a name, the better I like it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margaret and Beth, I give a lot of consideration to character names. I often use family names for historical romances. For the villain, I use the name of someone who caused harm to our family in that era. As the above commenter mentioned, I enjoy unusual character names for the main characters. In my opinion, names are very important. Probably not every reader considers the names, but I believe most do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great info in this blog! Names mean everything to me. We all have some connection with many names, friends, family, co-workers, classmates, TV and movies, and of course books! (I have a month old great granddaughter named Catherine, already nicknamed Cat. Will this guide how her personality develops? I know I HATED my name and use a nickname on all but legal documents! Colored my perception of myself.) I am always impressed when a character has just the right name! But I do hate those names that I’m not sure how to pronounce. While it’s important to maintain historically correct names in historical books, it’s very distracting to have to try to sound out a name every time you read it. One author I read had a minor character mispronounce the name and the girl with the archaic name carefully sounded it out for her. Thanks for talking about how you choose names!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jinny – Thanks for your kind comments! I have also thought about how names affect people in real life – would I behave differently if I were a Crystal or a Tiffany? An Edith or a Jennifer?

      I like interesting names that don’t go too far. In my next book, A Matter of Time, my duke is named Deveric Mattersley (Dev for short). I’m hoping that’s not too weird – but the Mattersley is key, because that family plays into my “Matters” focus for my upcoming books. 🙂 You’ll have to let me know if you think you could stand reading that one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jinny for sharing that. Very interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations Margaret, on your new release 🙂 The names I decide upon mean a lot to me as well, and I normally spend a wee bit of extra time doing research behind the names to match my characters. I love creating names for my mythical characters the most. I enjoyed reading Caroline’s reply, of how she comes up with the names of her Villains. I love looking up Irish/Scottish names and their meanings – and if I run across something I really like and it doesn’t suit the particular story I’m working on at the time, I make sure I save it for a future character 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I love name meanings – so it’s actually funny to me that I didn’t delve into the actual meaning of the name for most of my characters, just the mood they evoke. Like you, I have a list of potential future character names! Thanks for the kind comments!

      Like

  5. Margaret, great post. That photo with “Am I your perfect fantasy” well, I’d have to say he’s close! Nice “meeting” you. Linda

    Like

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