When I was a teenager, I wrote a book about four brothers. They were vampires. Their names were Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Christoph. (Look, I was 15. Don’t judge me by those names. I think I named them after the archangels or something. Except Chris. I don’t remember what I was going for there.) I chose Michael for the oldest, because I loved the name. When I was a teenager, I used to tell people I’d marry a man named Michael one day.
Hi, honey. See, you were part of a plot all along.
(In case you’re not in on that joke, my husband’s name is Michael Kemmerer. He’s awesome.)
When I was in my twenties, I rewrote that book about the four vampire brothers. I kept the names roughly the same, but they became Michael, Gabriel, Nicholas, and Christopher.
That book never went anywhere, but I couldn’t get those four brothers out of my head. They kept banging around in there saying, “Damn it, lady, let us out.”
When four teenagers are pounding around inside your skull, it kind of hurts.
So now those four brothers are the stars of Elemental.
But I started thinking about names, and their popularity. I’m seeing Gabriel around all the time now, but maybe that’s because of the recent surge in angel books. I even posted the question on Twitter last night, and other people have noticed the same thing. My most recent encounter with the name was in Kim Harrington’s Clarity, which I highly recommend. (Teen murder mystery, two hot guys, just a touch of paranormal? Sign me up. Wait, I already bought it. Sign YOU up.)
Gabriel’s a name that’s near-and-dear to my heart, too. When I bought my first horse, I named him Gabriel.
He was a frigging psycho, but that’s another story.
My second horse was named Nick. That’s also the name of my son. (And also a character in my book.)
I already told you about the importance of the name Michael.
When I pick names for my characters, I want them to mean something. I love the baby name sites, but I rarely go for something off the wall. You’re unlikely to find a name in my book that you haven’t heard before, but sometimes I hate that about myself, that I don’t experiment with names. My friend Bobbie Goettler had a boy character named Creek, and I loved that name. I had some serious name envy going on.
The villain in A Wicked Little Rhythm was named Gus, after my husband’s avatar on Rock Band.
When I needed a name for the love interest in the sequel I’m writing, my high school calculus teacher suggested Layne, the name of his daughter. Since the character is supposed to be a geeky math whiz, and because I like the name, I used it. It’s perfect. Then I saw a picture of his daughter on Facebook, and I realized just how perfect.
(I hope if she reads the book one day, she thinks I did her name justice.)
What about you guys? Do your characters’ names have any importance? Where do you find your names? Do your names give your characters an immediate personality, or do you let them grow into their names?