Mr. Scott has not always been a fan of my name choices. While he doesn’t read my books, he does have to suffer through my discussion of those books and characters. Our first real conversation about names occurred when he read the first two chapters of Protecting Parker.
Mr. Scott asked, “What kind of a name is Parker for a girl? And, Gray! Who knows anyone named Gray?”
I pointed out that Parker Posey is a well-known actress, and that I knew several people named Gray. He was not appeased.
When the discussion about Blood Link was ongoing, he asked me about my female lead in the first book. “Why do you always pick guy names for girls? First Parker and now Sam.”
I hadn’t realized that I’d done that. I simply always loved the name Samantha and the nickname of Sam. I can rarely say Sam without following it with the name Elliott. I loved the name Samantha in the same way that I loved the name Parker. I’m not sure I could explain it beyond that.
“Can’t your women have normal names?”
Well of course they can, but when we read, we often want to be taken out of our own mundane lives. Most of us weren’t fond of our names at some point. Who hasn’t wanted to have an exotic name? I personally never really wanted exotic. I always wanted to be named Ann. It has a nice clean ring to it and sounds “regal.” My brother once confessed that he’d always wanted to be named Lance. Lance? Really?
Mr. Scott, to his credit, pointed out that some of my favorite actors as well as some of the most interesting and sexy people in the world had very normal names. Sam Elliott (well duh, I already stole that one), Hugh Jackman, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, etc. for men. Sandra Bullock, Rebecca DeMorney, Sophia Loren, and Catherine Zeta-Jones for the ladies. The first names are, to me, solid names that transcend age and trends.
When I started laying out A Shared Fear and planning the next vampire books, I sat down one evening and asked Mr. Scott for first names. He hemmed and hawed a bit, but when I pressed him about what he would have proposed for a girl’s name if he had a daughter, he came up with Yvonne. I hated it! But I’d asked, so I had to figure out a way to use it. I wound up shortening it to Evie, so Yvonne (Evie) Marie Duncan was born for A Shared Fear. She needed a strong male counterpart, so I went with simple and came up with Joe Graves.
Mr. Scott was on a roll after that, so I took notes as he came up with some great names that you’ll be seeing in future books. You’ll meet Brenda Livingstone in my next stand-alone novel Stuck in Korea Time, and Janice Bracken is the primary character in Saving Emily, both novels will be out in 2012.
Sadly, you will never see some of my favorite names as the lead characters in my books. My favorite name of Jack will appear often as a side character, but never as the lead. My father was named Jack and I could never write a love scene using the name. The same for the male names of Scott, Dean, Darryl, Dwight, Chuck, or Pat. Or the female names of Heather, Tonya, Jamye, Jennifer, Marcia, or Ramona. These fall in my too close for comfort category, since they are friends, family, and beta readers. While I have quite a few other names that might fall in that category, they are common enough that I can work around them. Still, most of those names will only get used for supporting characters.
The other thing you won’t see me doing is using the popular romantic names. I swear to God that as soon as Grey’s Anatomy premiered there were a thousand books with the names Derek and Meredith. I can barely hear those names now without cringing. Check out the romance rack and you’ll notice that they all have “interesting” names. I hadn’t really noticed it until Mr. Scott pointed it out and reminded me that most people in the world didn’t go through life with exciting names.
While a name is important to your character – it won’t matter one bit if the character isn’t interesting. So pick something you like and get to writing!