Aspirations from a Working Mum

Just another weblog

Day 16: What’s in a Name?

I have recently finished reading an excellent crime/thriller mystery: Lost Dog by Bill Cameron. One of the major characters in the book is named Skin Kadash…a name I love, and I got round to thinking: how do we as writers choose the names for the people that we create? Are we influenced by the personality we know we will be giving to that character? Or do we just take a liking to a name we’ve heard in the past, and then make use of it later?

The name of the female villain in the novel I am working on, was easy. My vampiress is based on a truelife 16th century countess: Erzsebet Bathory…although she was also known as Elizabeth and Erzbet. I simply chose the name out of the three I thought sounded more vampish.

The problem came in naming my other major characters. I had a Detective Chief Inspector, a Doctor and my ‘hero’…all to bring, carefully, to life with a name.

A few months back, I had problems with a ‘traveller’ – for wont of a better word – he was stealing some old bits and pieces we had stored (dumped) at the end of our garden. The police officer assigned to the case was PC Alan Longmore. I liked that name. I thought it had a certain ring to it. So, I gave him a promotion, aged him fifteen years or so, and he became DCI Allan Longmoor (now renowned for chasing vampires in the small village of Parish, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent!).

The hero of my piece is Adam Pevensey. I had slightly more difficulty in naming this slim, dark-haired, young man (I always picture Orlando Bloom in my mind…much to the delight of my fourteen year old daughter!). I knew from the beginning I wanted him to be called Adam – I can give no reason for this – but his surname became my stumbling block. I obsessively leafed through the phonebook, but could find no name I fancied. I would avidly look at every signpost I passed, every commercial vehicle I saw with a company name on, for some sort of inspiration…but nothing. Then I read a couple of books by Susan Howatch. One was set in Cornwall, one in Ireland, and I realised she had given her charcters surnames of towns and villages from the area she was writing about. Aha! Out came a map of Kent. Almost instantly my eyes fell on the words Pevensey Bay! Adam Pevensey – and his Uncle: Russell Pevensey – were born.

I am still having problems with my female doctor. Despite being halfway through the second draft, I still can not settle on a name. I lose sleep over this! Any offers?

‘It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.’     Diane Ackerman.


December 9, 2007 - Posted by | On Track |

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