Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shhhh...Corpse Whisperer

I'm pleased to have Chris Redding, author of "Corpse Whisperer" share about character names on my blog today. Let's see what she has to say:

Thank you Katie for having me on your blog.

I’ve very conscious of my character’s names. Especially now because I’ve read a critique partner’s manuscript without names in it. Just Hero, Heroine, etc. A little unnerving.

But I love naming characters. It’s like naming children. And I did name my children as my husband will tell anyone who will listen.

Jennifer was the name of the heroine in the first book I wrote. She had to have an Irish last name because she has red hair. I used O’Grady and her real father was a cop in Philadelphia. My father had many uncles who were cops there and if you get stopped by an Officer Redding in the City of Brotherly Love, I am probably related to them. But it won’t get you out of a ticket.

She isn’t my favorite heroine, but it’s the first book I published so it will always have a special place in my heart. Her hero was Sean. That’s a strong name. He was a strong, silent type so it fit. His last name, Guadette, is my mother-in-law’s maiden name. It’s French.

When my kids were younger I was involved in a Mom’s club. I used some of the kid’s names in my books. I asked the parents first, of course, and the character didn’t resemble whose name I used.

I have a manuscript called Blonde Demoltion. The heroine is Mallory Sage. This is the daughter of a good friend of mine. We’ve known each other since her Mallory and my son #2 were probably two years old. They are twelve now. The character Mallory’s hero is Trey. I have no Earthly memory of why I picked that name. But he’s McCrane, a good Irishmen. See a trend here?

Incendiary’s heroine is Chelsea. Remember On Golden Pond. Jane Fonda played a Chelsea and I really liked that name. I’ve kept it all these years and finally used it. James is her last name. I think that was one of those flipping through a phone book moments. Her hero is Jake, another strong name. Campbell is his last name. Uh, Irish?

Stone Feeney is a minor character who is a hero in another book. Stone. Probably Stone Phillips. I thought he was cute on television.

The best story I have is for a book that hasn’t been published yet. One of my favorites that I’ve written. Along Comes Pauly is a romantic comedy. The Pauly in the title is Paulo Gabagool Vincenzo. He’s Italian and from New Jersey where the story is set. Paulo is the name of a friend of mine’s, son. Paulo’s best friend in the book: Carmela Loschiavo. I needed a very Jersey Italian name for a character and once again I borrowed one from a friend’s child. He still bugs me about when the book will be published. (As if I have control over that.)

I don’t like when I don’t know how the name is pronounced. Aileen or Niall for instance. (Irish huh?). They don’t look like how they are pronounced. Neither does Sean, but for some reason that doesn’t bother me.

What do you think about character names? Have you ever read a book where you hated the character’s name?

One lucky commenter will receive this lovely Lia Sophia necklace. I will choose that commenter randomly, so be sure and leave a comment!

Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. When she isn’t writing she works per diem for her local hospital. Her next book Incendiary will be out this year. It’s about a firefighter trying to prove he didn’t commit arson. Corpse Whisperer is available on Kindle now.

Thanks again Katie for having me.


Unknown said...

I struggle with character names. I usually change as the personallity of the character developes.

marie at ehound dot info

Karen McGrath said...

Hi Chris, I have read books whose character names annoyed me. I'd usually make up my own and insert them. LOL! I love that you use your friend's children's names. That's really sweet. :) Best wishes with your writing!

Anonymous said...

I just started working on making the names original. I realized if people look for the book character by name the internet a common name won't pull up a link to my book. The problem is if all of your characters have odd names it doesn't seem realistic (especially in realistic fiction). 0Kids like it when their name is used in a book.
J. Aday Kennedy
The Differently-Abled Writer & Speaker

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Chris,
That is interesting the way you select your names. I guess when I think about it, I use a lot of biblical names. There again, I write mainly historicals so a lot of modern names wouldn't work.



Anita Davison said...

I know what you mean, Chris. I hated a girl at school named Julie, so could never give any of my characters that name or they turned out horrible. Then I acquired a critique partner called Julie and she's so lovely, suddenly the name doesn't conjour up any bad feelings any more. So maybe I will be able to use it now.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Names of people I know influence me too. I love choosing the right name for my characters.

BarbaraB said...

Hi Katie and Chris,

I also am very conscious of the names I choose for my characters. My first novel, a MG, WOUNDS, soon to be published by MuseItUp,has a strong conservation element in it. All of the names are those of environmental activists, such as Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day. One of my important characters is named Nelson.(didn't name anybody Gaylord)

*yadkny* said...

Hi Katie & Chris!
I don't think I've ever read a book where I absolutely hated the characters names... just that sometimes I don't think I'm getting the pronunciation right. Now that can get frustrating because when I'm discussing the book with a friend and they've read it too, then I find that one of us isn't saying the name correctly. Kind of hard to change it in my mind after I've read the book.

Brenda Kezar said...

I struggle a lot with character names. One thing that makes me feel better about MY struggles is that a lot of "rockstar" authors do, too. For example, I've noticed that Stephen King reuses character names in his novels and short stories. It always throws me a little as a reader, because it means I have to "change the face" associated with a name since he's using it as a completely different character. But it makes me feel better as a writer to know that we all (even the "biggies") have our writing "bugaboos."

Anonymous said...

I didn't like the character's name of "Eustace" in the "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" because as a kid, I had no idea how to pronounce it. By the end of the book I thought he was okay, though.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thanks for bringing to mind an issue that has me perplexed. I'm always changing my characters names during the first draft. After that I feel guilty if I still want to. As if they're my children and changing their name changes them. You've brought up some great points and I'm going off to digest them now.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Names are difficult, fitting them to characters is difficult too. I know reading fantasy can become a challenge with the pronunciations.
I decided I would only use names I could pronounce easily in The Chronicles of Caleath, on the rare chance I ever do a book reading.
The other thing I find really difficult is when names of different characters start with the same letter. I find that really confusing. Then I find I am guilty of doing it myself.

Great interview. I love Corpse Whisperer. A terrific book! Thanks Chris and Katie for some clever ideas on naming characters.

Charlie said...

Great piece. Enjoyed hearing how you name your characters. Name are imporatant and some can almost sum the character up in that one name. Thanks for sharing. Really enjoyed it.
C.K. Volnek

Sunnymay said...

Picking a character's name can be tricky. Once in my writers' group, I just used initials instead and they liked that a lot and thought it was a special effect. Mainly deciding to get the words down on paper when I'm not in motion like driving, is my aim. When I dwell on the name enough, research on the setting, culture,and period in history helps get the name ideas flowing.