Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tom, Dick, or What’s Her Name

Names intrigue me, primarily because of their built-in baggage.

For example, although Hannibal may have been something of a heroic figure in history, I can almost guarantee that after seeing Silence of the Lambs you won’t ever think of the name, Hannibal, in the same way.

So, what about the name Rhett?  I’ve never actually met anyone with that name, but if I should, I am predisposed to think he’s a rogue.  Why?  Because of that terrific character in Gone With The Wind, of course.

Two very different names and very different reactions.

Which illustrates why the names we attach to characters are so very important.  Without our even realizing it, the names of those people with whom we associate bad experiences influence how we feel about characters with those names.

It works just the same with good experiences, which can create warm, fuzzy feelings when we hear certain names.  For instance, my name is Ramona, a feminine variation of Raymond, my father‘s name.  So it should come as no surprise that I love my name.

Long before I began creating people--excuse me, creating characters--I became a collector of names.  Not necessarily the unusual ones, but those which seem to resonate inside me, many of which are simply family names.  Such as:  Michael (my son’s name), Shannon (a granddaughter), Kira and Mackenzie (distance cousins)

Do you find yourself reacting to names in the same way?  Sometimes choosing names of characters in a similar manner?

When I wrote BORDER HEAT (released earlier this month--Wheeee!!), I named my heroine Caroline, and every time I worked on the manuscript I heard Neil Diamond singing “Sweet Caroline” in my head.

Aha, another naming resource, music.  Let’s see, there‘s Georgia…Linda…Leroy Brown…

Hmmm, maybe our books should come with soundtracks.  What do you think?  Am I on to something?

--Ramona Butler