In MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG, I had fun naming the characters. Maybe more fun than with any of the folks who peopled my first two books.
Azalea, for example. A line from something- who knows what at this point- stuck in my brain from way back. A baby named Azalea by her daddy when he saw the pink flowers from her mama's hospital window. Azalea it was! From the beginning.
How about Sergeant Steele for a policeman? That came to me when I remembered my high school classmate, Donna Steele. But I have NO idea how the name Miss Jane Partridge appeared, attached to a goody-goody social worker. Not my friend Joan Partridge. Not my sister Jane. Just a name that had the right ring to it.
I have a huge collection of saved names. If I created a zillion more characters, I could never use them all.
Maybe it's a southern thing? I adore this piece by Julia Reed (who grew up down the road a piece from me in the Mississippi Delta) in GARDEN AND GUN magazine, about choosing names.
Here's an excerpt:
It didn’t end up mattering much because both boys were almost always referred to as Brother or Bubba, and to this day no one in my immediate family or its orbit has ever called me anything but Sister. Which leads us to another Southern phenomenon. There’s Tennessee Williams’s Sister Woman, of course, and a character in a Lee Smith short story is named Uncle Baby Brother.
When I first started writing THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY, I called my tap-dancing, fun-loving character "Miss Sister" just plain Sister. She was a tribute to two much-loved dance teachers in our town, Sister Cockersole and Ruth Hart. At a first-pages critique session early on, a young editor remarked that she liked the story, but she didn't understand why a former nun would be wearing red tap shoes...
Since I knew actual people who added the "Miss" in front of names all the time, changing her to Miss Sister was easy.
If you're still reading, here are the previous posts I've written about character names:
This, with a link to Dorian Cirrone's excellent post
And this, with lots of naming names links
(my rejected names notebook)
How do you decide what to name a character? Have you ever (mistakenly perhaps?) named a villain for someone you actually know? What are some of your favorite book characters' names?