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. 🙂
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?