Posted in Uncategorized, writing

The name game

I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about names, carefully choosing names for the characters in my books. Heroes and heroines, family members and friends, secondary and walk-on characters — each name has to fit the personality of the person I’ve envisioned as I write. I peruse baby name books, on-line baby name sites, watch credits after movies and TV shows for interesting names that seem to suit the people I’m creating … and sometimes the characters just tell me their names as I write. If I choose a wrong name for a hero or heroine, one that just doesn’t seem to “fit,” it becomes clear to me fairly quickly. The story just won’t move until I find a name that makes both me and my character happy.

In my March, 2013 Harlequin Special Edition, THE RIGHT TWIN, I’ll introduce a new family, the Bells (and reintroduce a couple of characters from a familiar family, the Walkers from my long-running Family Found series). The Bell family got their moniker when a name popped into my head while I was in Seattle visiting my daughter earlier this year and started outlining a new book one day while she was at work. I envisioned a quirky family matriarch named Dixie Bell, a woman who wasn’t particularly happy with that name, so insists that everyone call her by her grandmother name, “Mimi.” Then I started naming her family members — her husband, Carl Bell, Sr., sons Carl, Jr., and Bryan, granddaughters Shelby, Hannah and Maggie (all of whom you’ll be meeting in the next three books), youngest granddaughter Lori and grandson Steven. Whew. Lots of time spent at the baby name sites — a pleasant diversion as I get distracted reading name meanings, etymology, frequency of usage and any other trivia available there.

John and I spent many hours deliberating over names for our children (but then, we’ve been known to deliberate for days over names for pets). Our older daughter was named after a character in one of my favorite books as a teenager, our  second daughter’s name is an alternate spelling of her paternal great-grandmother’s name combined with a middle name taken from one of my and my husband’s favorite films, and our son is named partially after his father — the fourth “John” in five generations of his maternal grandmother’s family — and partially after The Incredible Hulk (the TV one, David rather than Bruce). His older sister chose that name because she loved watching reruns of The Incredible Hulk and loved the name David. As it happened, so did we. Even our cat Izzie is named from a family-favorite film. It has meaning to us.

I enjoyed watching our daughter and son-in-law go through the process of choosing a name for the little boy they’re expecting in December. They considered and discarded dozens, running some past their friends and family, debating others together. Choosing a child’s name seems so momentous — how will it affect his life? His relationships? His self-esteem? How will it look on kindergarten papers, diplomas, job applications? Quite daunting, actually, and a big responsibility. They considered favorite books, movies, historical figures, ethnic origins. And yet when they finally chose the name they knew was perfect for their son, it came from a restaurant menu. They’ll have a great story to tell little Ephraim someday about his name. Our son-in-law amusingly chronicled the ah-ha moment in his blog:

Expecting our first grandchild has given my husband and me another challenge — choosing our grandparent names! Knowing how our parents became known to everyone by their grandparent names after the births of their grandchildren, we want something we don’t mind answering to often. I’ve had a name in mind for a few years (yes, I’ve planned for this event!), but John is still giving the matter careful consideration. It’s interesting to choose names for ourselves — the first time in our lives we’ve actually had that opportunity, come to think about it.

I hope you’ll enjoy meeting the members of the Bell family, beginning with THE RIGHT TWIN in March, 2013 and continuing in THE TEXAN’S SURPRISE BABY in May. In the meantime, many of my previously-published books are available in ebook format and from Click the Books tab above for details and links for Kindle and Nook readers.


Award-winning, best-selling author of women's romance fiction.

One thought on “The name game

  1. If I write a harlequin SE book one day, I have the name of the heroine picked out. I don’t know how I came up with it. Just popped in my head. But I think it’s an elegant yet modern name so I like it and think it’d be good for HSE.

    My husband and I like people names for dogs (we have a dog named Sheila and one named Saul). We don’t have kids (still undecided) but we do have the girl’s name picked (even though we’d prefer a boy). The girl would be named Iris Suzanne. Such a lovely name.

    Names are so difficult to choose! I see just terrible names for children now. Blaiydyn was one I’ve seen recently and I think that’s just terrible to do to a child. I always think about if the name would be good on a baby, a toddler, a child, a high schooler, a college kid, a 30 year old in a big time job interview, and an elderly person. I can’t see an 80 year old Blaiydyn. I see an Iris in all of those scenarios, though it’s not quite a name for a baby. But they aren’t babies for as long as they are adults, which is why we have that name picked out.

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