What’s in a Name?
I have all sorts of weird and wonderful stories when it comes to how my characters got their names. Jeremy (Everything We Need and All the Broken Pieces) walked into my head fully formed and introduced himself. In the early days of writing The Experiment, Logan yelled at Patrick to get his attention, giving me his name in the process. Sometimes, I lift names from whatever TV show I happen to be watching when I start writing. Sometimes the name reflects an aspect of the character’s personality. Honestly, character names can come from pretty much anywhere.
When I first started writing The Harder We Fall, I didn’t know much about the main character I was working with. I did know he struggled with guilt stemming from some event that happened in his past. And I knew he was incredibly sad. This sadness permeated everything about his life and the way he viewed the world. I could feel it like an ache in my gut whenever we spent time together. I quickly realised this was a man whose name needed to be chosen with care. Baby naming websites are fantastic for this. A few keyword searches later, I came upon the name Tristan. It means ‘full of sorrow’. It was perfect.
The name for Tristan’s love interest came to me a little differently. The one thing I knew about the character was that he had a compelling voice. This was the thing that would initially draw Tristan to him. In my head, Tristan kept referring to the man as his siren. I thought that it would be quirky to give the character a nickname, one that would embarrass the hell out of him. The words, “Siren Sam,” literally popped out of my mouth with the next breath. Then I had a quiet chuckle to myself. Sam had his name and I loved it.
Naming characters is always an interesting part of the creative process, but I do believe it’s important to get it right. After all, if you give a character the wrong name, they may not answer when you call.