Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More On Names

As I typed that title, I realized that if you say it fast it sounds like the title for this post is Moron Names. Gave me a chuckle.

Anyway, I wanted to write a bit more on the names I choose for characters, specifically the characters from Epoch. A lot of names from that book had more than just random selection to them, though I would not go so far as to say they had Deep Symbolic Meaning. Some of the names were simply little in-jokes that only I will get. Why? Because it made me smile.

There will be one or two Spoilers in the next few paragraphs. If you haven't read Epoch yet, leave your computer and go read it immediately. I'll wait.

Vincent, the hero of Epoch, has a cool and not ordinary first name. His last name, however, is Drear, short for dreary. I wanted to suggest his life had been fairly normal and boring until the events of the book. Mind you, this was before I decided he had fanatically devout parents who routinely locked him in the basement. Nothing ordinary about that.

Chanteuse Sloam is a combination of things. Her first name is French for singer, I think. However, I never imagined her as a singer. The name just sounded right to me. It suggested something spiritual(to me, anyway), which was right for her character. Her last name is half sloan(some old neighbours of mine) and half loam, which Wikipedia defines as a soil composed of sand, silt, and clay. Very appropriate for a character in touch with Mother Earth.

Most of the Elves got their names from Transformers. Grimbowl sounds a bit like Grimlock, Optar comes from Optimus and Megon from Megatron. Oh, and Dr. Ritchet was one vowel removed from Ratchet. Hey, I love Transformers. I'll squeeze bits of their names in wherever I can.

Barnaby, the school bully, was a name far removed from any typical bully name. That seemed appropriate, since he's not a typical bully. His two bodyguards, however, are an homage to the early works of the great Gordon Korman. The heroes of his first novel, This Can't Be Happening At MacDonald Hall, were Bruno and Boots. I named Barnaby's bodyguards after them as an homage.

But the one name I put the most into (and here's where the Spoiler Alert goes into full swing) was Pharley Seamore Edwards, the CEO of Alphega Corp. It turns out that Mr. Edwards is a Centaur, a creature that is half-human and half-horse. I wanted to hint at Edwards' true nature without giving too much away, hence the scenes of him munching on hay (and saying nay). His name is full of horse references: Pharley comes from the horse movie Phar Lap; Seamore comes from Seabiscuit; and Edwards is a reference to the famous TV talking horse, Mr. Ed. Gosh, I'm clever, aren't I?

As I said earlier, a lot of the name references are things that only I will get. It's not that I'm trying to deprive readers of anything; I just like to have a bit of fun. If you're ever wondering about a name from one of my books, drop me a line and ask where it comes from. I'd be more than happy to oblige.

Bear in mind, however, the name might just be something I thought sounded cool, and nothing more than that. You never know. But I do.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Naming Characters Is Fun

Character names, like story ideas, come from all over. Some are names from people I know (a first name here, a last name there) while others are a blend of words or sounds that I like. I most often write humour, so I'll often try and slip something funny in there, too.

The main characters in Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters are Conrad Viscous and Knowlton Cabbage. In their case, I just liked the way the words sounded together. I'd had a friend named Conrad when I was growing up, and Viscous simply came to me as the ideal last name for him. He isn't a particularly sticky or slimy character; I just liked the word. Knowlton was a name I'd heard around and I just liked, and Cabbage went well with it the way Viscous went with Conrad. Sometimes you can't explain name choices like that; they just sound right in your mind's ear.

Other character names from that book had different origins. Pakfrida, the alien spirit who befriends Conrad, was a combination of my grandparents' names. My grandmother on my mom's side was named Frida, and my grandfather on my dad's side liked to be called Pac. Pakfrida was a grandfatherly sort of character, so I put Pac with Frida to get a unique name. Javix, the bounty hunter who helps Conrad, came from the cleaning fluid Javex. I just liked the sound of it. Cyscope, the main villain, had a name similar to that of Cyclonus, a Decepticon warrior from Transformers. Both characters are intelligent and ruthless, and I like to honour Transformers whenever I can.

Like I said, names can come from anywhere. One thing I try to do with them, however, is make them unique and memorable. I avoid common names as much as I can for main characters - it's more fun that way. Bill Jones isn't that unique or memorable. Conrad Viscous is. At least I think so.