I Am Keyser Sose!

For anyone who has not seen the movie The Usual Suspects,


I’m going to be revealing part of the surprise ending, so you might want to skip this post. 🙂

220px-Usual_suspects_ver1I am Keyser Sose.

In The Usual Suspects, at the end, we find that during Verbal Kint’s story to the police, he has been creating the entire thing using details and names for people and places from the cop’s bulletin board and the bottom of a porcelain coffee cup.

About two years into writing, I realized that I do something similar when coming up with names for my characters and places in my books.  A lot of my character names, names of horses, names of houses, names of animals come from people I know, students names, places I’ve lived or been familiar with.  It’s a fun little signature so that people who know me, may recognize the references.  They may even recognize themselves!

In Heart of Deception, the heroine is Celinda Graham, the hero Andrew Finley.  Celinda is the name of an actress I know and I thought her name was lovely and unusual.  Finley is the name of a branch of my cousins.

In 7 Days of Seduction, Hunter Hopewell’s last name is the town next to where I grew up.

Hog Wild’s sexy heroine, Lula Wolfendale’s first name is taken from the sexy protagonist of Leroy Jones’s play Dutchman.  Her last name is a play on what she is—a wolf in the valley.

My full length historical novel, Only Scandal Will Do, has the most of these little gems. Dunham House is named for my favorite comedian, Jeff Dunham; the minister who marries Katarina and Duncan is named for the town where I live; three characters mentioned—a captain in Katarina’s father’s regiment, a madam of a brothel, and a sailor—have names of some of my colleagues at work; and the Bow Street Runner is named after the county next to mine.  Duncan’s horse, Saxon, rhymes with Jaxon and is the word that suggested the spelling of my pen name. 🙂

My current WIP, Betrayal, has no names culled from my personal contacts.  I wanted very historically accurate names for my characters in this work and the place names were dictated by history.  And sometimes that is the case.  Still, I like to have fun every once in a while, so you never know when I’m going to don my Keyser Sose mask and grab a name from my past or present.

How do you pick out names?  For characters in books, your children, your pets, your cars?

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11 Responses to I Am Keyser Sose!

  1. melissakeir says:

    I pick names from my students and the people around me. In my latest book, I had to change the principal’s name because I’d made it too close to home! 🙂


  2. Sue says:

    Most of the names for characters are picked out of the air, some from kids I used to know, some from people I know now. For me, I give a name and that’s the character. Except for Gideon and Phoebe which I carefully chose. And the last names for their friends. When I did my screen play story I chose every single first name and surname very carefully. Partly because it was part of the assignment and partly because I wanted accurate names for the roles they would play


  3. Daryl Devore says:

    Being an erotic author – I try to come with sexy sounding or sexy insinuating names. Fun posting learning where your character’s manes came from.


  4. Funny enough, choosing names is kind of Mathair’s shtick and she always says that they just come to her or rather the characters reveal the name themselves. Of course, nothing’s ever in stone until I’ve put my stamp on it and I’ve done my share of naming ones that I felt were just right, but she’s just got a great knack for it. Sharing right now, Jenna. Great post!


  5. Brenda D says:

    I usually choose names from people I know and from video games.


  6. Keyser Sose? Is this a pop reference? If so, it’s no wonder I’m lost. LOL

    I choose names from a list of interesting ones I’ve noted as life goes on. These are usually divided by last names for men and first names for women. This is a rather arbitrary division, on my part, but that’s how I think. A name will just strike me as particularly romantic or particularly strong and masculine. Occasionally, while doing a character profile, I realize I’ve given the character the wrong name and will change it, which fortunately occurs before writing. Once in a while, I pick names that strike me as humorous in a subtle way, but I try not to go there often because my sense of humor might not correspond with a reader’s and you can really hit someone over the head with a goofy name throughout a story.

    You pick good names for your characters. Keep up the good work, Keyser. 🙂


    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      LOL Trish! He’s a character in a wonderful movie from the mid-90s. A very convoluted tale with a surprise ending that will blow you away. I didn’t reveal all, so I think you would enjoy it. Especially since you recently did some research about the criminal element. 🙂 I love your names! You are always very inventive and perfectly right about which characters fits which name. Thanks so much for coming by!


  7. Interesting. Most of my major characters introduce themselves to me. When I do have to pick names, I have two books. One of period appropriate names, and another of English surnames. I flip through the names until the right one strikes me. Tweeted and shared.


    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      Duncan and Katarina introduced themselves to me. I had no say in their names. As did Alyse de Courcy. Most other characters I had some input in. A couple have fought with me, insisting they were someone else. Tommy Redmond insisted (still insists, in fact) that his first name is Andrew. LOL Thans for the tweet and share, Ella!


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