Congratulations to Tiffany K for winning the signed copy of DESIRE UNTAMED. Tiffany, please contact me at email@example.com with your mailing address. Thanks, everyone, for joining in!
I always thought that picking the names of my characters would be easy. Just thumb through a baby name book, find a few names I liked, and that would be it, right? Maybe it works like that for some authors. Not for me. I have to like the name, of course, but it's so much more complicated than that. The name has to, in some way, capture the essence of the character for me. It becomes an important vehicle for understanding that character.
In comparison, naming kids is easy. And I can say that because I've named two of them and it wasn't easy at all. My husband's and my tastes in names were poles apart. The thing with naming babies is, you don't know them. You're trying to give them a name they'll be happy with for a lifetime, but unlike naming characters, you're not trying to fit their name with their personality, because you don't know them yet.
Before I choose a name for a character, I have to understand her (or him). I knew that Kara (the heroine of Desire Untamed) was a sweet, spunky, girl-next-door type long before I knew her name. I knew Delaney (the heroine of Obsession Untamed) was a tough human FBI agent and Skye (Passion Untamed) was a sweet Mage witch with a pure heart. Their names came later, and not easily. I tried several names each before I found the one that clicked for me. In Kara's case, I went through at least six before finding the one that fit.
So how do I decide which name fits? Like so many things having to do with the writing process, I look inside myself for the answer. When I hit on the element, in this case the name, that feels right, I know it. I feel it in my gut. But I don't always feel it instantly. With names, in particular, I have to live with them a little while before I know, although this 'living with them' usually takes place during the plotting process, before I ever start writing the book. Rarely will I change a name after the book is underway any more, though that used to happen all the time.
As I plot and work out the key aspects of my story, I try out different names until I find the ones that feel right.
Okay, so I have this D.C. cop named Jeff. I'll work out the story a bit using Jeff as the hero until I know one way or the other. Nope. Not Jeff. Jeremy. A quick Find/Replace and all the Jeffs become Jeremys and I continue working out the story. Jeremy is on the trail of a serial killer. Nope, not Jeremy. Jack. Jack is on the trail of a serial killer. Find/Replace, continue working, gut check...? Yes. Yes, Jack is the right name for my hero.
A human character generally gets a fairly common name (Kara, who at least thinks she human), Delaney (okay, not that common, but I like it), Natalie, Christy, Charlie, Harrison, Larsen (yes, I admit that I have a thing about surnames as first names). The immortal races get names that sound a little more old-fashioned to me, more romantic, since most have been alive for centuries (Melisande, Olivia, Julianne, Ariana). I make up names for a lot of the immortals (Inir, Birik, Satanan, Baleris). I've found a couple of excellent fantasy name generators on-line to help with creating these new names.
Once I know the key pieces of the story, and my characters have come fully to life for me, names included, I'm ready to start writing the book. Ultimately, although I want names that please my ear and that fit the characters, all that really matters is that, for whatever reason, those names help bring the characters to life for me.
For a chance at a signed copy of Desire Untamed, book 1 in my Feral Warriors series, tell me a few names that you think are great romance hero/heroine names. I'm always looking for ideas!