Squawk Radio

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The current bane of Xtina’s existence is … Drum roll, please!

Picking out names.

Oh, sure, you’ve done it. You named your kids something, or your cats or your dogs. You know how important this is. You worry about it, argue about it and finally come up with the perfect name. But I’ve written almost thirty books. I’ve named literally hundreds, maybe thousands of people. I am constantly naming heroes (must sound manly) and heroines (feminine but not too gooshy) and secondary characters (should reflect their personality.) And don’t forget, the names should be distinctive!

Right now I’m starting a book. I’ll be in a mad fervor, writing a scene, when suddenly I’m jerked to a halt by a character who requires some kind of moniker, something beyond the ever-popular INSERT NAME HERE. So I go to my trusty baby name book and start the slow torturous trek through the letters. J … J is good for a hero, it’s has a strong sound. How about Jagger, that sounds manly. No, wait, I don’t want to remind the reader of Mick and his lips. Jenkins … Jenkins sounds like the butler. (Note to self: save for butler.) Jensen … gads, no, Scott’s cousins by marriage are Jensens and I don’t want to start anything with the relatives.

So finally I find a great name and what happens? I realize I’ve used it before. (I’ve had two heroes named William. Heck, maybe three.) And honestly, this stuff is trickier than you think. I’ve come up with names that rhyme (ugh) and sometimes my brain gets stuck in a rut — in the current manuscript I’ve already named one secondary character Alan and one Alanna. (Note to self: change that.) I wrote a novella once (it’s out of print) and I named the heroine Rose and the hero Thornton. It wasn’t until I was on page 80 that I realized what I’d done when one of my kids asked incredulously, “Mom, are you really naming them Rose and Thorn?”

Sometimes I’m too lazy — oops, I mean too involved in my prose — to get up and get the baby name book and … well, the heroine in my first book, a medieval, was Saura of Roget. Saura, okay, that sounds medieval. But you know, you KNOW, how I came up with Roget, don’t you? I frantically glanced around my office, and … Well, let’s put it this way. To this day, Susan Sizemore teases me about naming a character after my thesaurus.

So do you have any really great names for my characters? And what character names have you read that you thought should have been something else? Anything else?
Christina Dodd, 11:21 AM