Many years ago, a BFF named her newest mutt “Gracie.” I have this…thing about naming pets with people names. Back then, it wasn’t such a big deal. But sure enough, in the interim decade “Grace” has become one of the most popular new/old names for girls. Every time I meet a young woman named Grace, I think of that dog. I like the dog, and I like most Graces. But once in awhile I meet one that makes me feel indignant for the dog.
Of all the power words in our language, names hold the most magic. I chose my pseudonym because (a) my husband’s first name is Steven and as a romance novelist I thought it entirely appropriate that my name be a possessive of his and (b) I thought it would bring me luck. On the day I settled on it, I looked at a bestseller list. Stephen King was on it. And Stephenie Meyer. And Stephanie Laurens. Seemed like a good crowd to hang out with–I could sidle in subtly to the cocktail party.
Some authors find it easy to name characters. I don’t. Just as it took me the better part of pregnancy to come up with my sons’ names, it takes me most of my rough draft to name my hero–oh, how I agonize about those alpha males and their names! For some reason, the women’s names come more easily: I wanted an old-fashioned, quiet, but unusual name to match my old-fashioned, quiet and unusual heroine. “Delia” came and Delia stayed.
Grant Wolverton, however, was another story: He spent most of the first draft of the book as “Hirogai”—a play on Baby Bear’s “Hero Guy” character on Sesame Street.. Grant came from money and needed a moneyed name. But he needed a name that speaks of internal, personal power as well—not just what he’d inherited. And he needed a name a woman would like to cry in her throes of passion.
Try it—close your eyes and breathe, “Grant. Oh, Grant.”
Now, open your eyes.
No. Seriously. Stop that and come back here.
In my life, I’ve named babies and businesses, pets and computers, characters and cars, and I’ve renamed myself thrice over. Every time I name someone or something, I feel as if I’ve waved a wand.
What about you? Do you like your name? If you meet a character in a book whose name you don’t like (or who reminds you of someone you dislike) does it make it difficult to read?