The Joy of Naming Characters

Loudin FamilyI’ve never had children, but I have spent a fair amount of time considering what I might name a child if I did have one.

Thankfully, I now have LOTS of characters, all in need of a good name. And naming them is one my favorite things to do. It even holds me up at times, because I can’t write the book until I have the names just right. Delilah, in my novella Appalachian Serenade, got her name from Delilah Jane Brady pictured in the center of the photo above. I don’t know a thing about the real Delilah (my great, great grandmother), but what a fantastic name for my character!

So for a little inside scoop, here are the names for several of my main characters and the inspiration behind them.

MIRACLE IN A DRY SEASON
-Casewell Phillips – I wanted to use the last name Phillips because it’s the line of family members who settled in our corner of WV–for seven generations. I found the name Casewell on a grave marker near my father-in-law’s and thought it was wonderful.
-Perla – I toyed with naming my first heroine after either my Aunt Bess or Grandma Burla, but wasn’t sure family members would appreciate that the character was an unwed mother–so I tweaked Grandma’s name and came up with Perla.

UNTIL THE HARVEST
-Margaret & Henry – This time, I wanted my hero and heroine to have good, solid, “regular” names.
-Mayfair – On the other hand, Margaret’s little sister with a touch of the miraculous needed a special name. Mayfair is something of a play on Fairlight from Christy by Catherine Marshall.

A TAPESTRY OF SECRETS
-Ella – This is Perla’s granddaughter–her name is a variation on my Grandma Nellie’s name. Plus, she’s something of a Cinderella to her Grandma Perla’s fairy godmother.
-Mark/Richard/Seth – I wanted solid, masculine names for the three possible love interests. And none of them could be the name of anyone I ever dated! If you’re getting into the groove of how I pick names, you’ll probably be able to guess which character Ella ends up with 😉

THE SOUND OF RAIN (Releasing November 2017)
-Judd Markley – This may be my favorite character thus far. He’s flat out named for my great Uncle Judd (who never married) with my paternal grandmother’s maiden name added on.
-Larkin Heyward – I wanted a southern name for my heroine from coastal South Carolina. We have family in Greenville, SC, where there’s a restaurant named Larkin’s. My mother-in-law lives on Haywood Road, but everyone pronounces it Heyward–so there you go!

Typically, I don’t use the names of people in my everyday life for my chain characters. I can’t ever foresee writing a character based on someone I know, lest I offend! My mom used to try to guess who my characters really were until finally I convinced her they’re all a blend of friends, family, strangers, and my imagination.

And oh how I love giving them meaningful names!

Q4U – How about you? If you were writing a novel, what would you name your main character(s)?

2 thoughts on “The Joy of Naming Characters

  1. I wish all authors provided a “special features.” It’s so interesting to learn how names are chosen. I usually select a name because it seems to “fit” the character. I can’t recall selecting a name due to a particular person. And I hope if there is a coincidence there won’t be a flap!

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