What’s in a (Character) Name? Sharon Booth @Sharon_Booth1 #Guestpost #Uplifting Women’s Fiction #IARTG

Sharon Booth tells Samantha Henthorn how she chooses her character names.

Way back when I started reaching out and networking as an independent author, I saw a post on a reputable social media group asking if any authors wanted to appear on a blog called ‘Five Photos’. Before responding, I thought wow, this author writes uplifting women’s fiction. That sounds right up my street!

This author was none other than super talented SHARON BOOTH I have read every single one of her books – the first one being Kearton Bay my husband came home from work and saw me reading in the garden. ‘Why are you crying?’ he said. ‘Because this book is so touching… and SO cute!’ 

Thank you so much Sharon for joining me!

Sharon Booth

What’s in a Character Name?

Names are very important to me. I can’t just pick a character’s name out of thin air; I have to search for just the right one. First of all, it has to suit the character, obviously, but it also has to mean something to me or to the story.

With the first series of books I wrote it was easy. I’d spent a few years researching my family tree and I wanted to pay tribute to those people I’d been learning about, and who’d come to mean so much to me. The surnames of most of the characters in Kearton Bay are the surnames of my ancestors: Hollingsworth, Bone, Boden and Kean (hyphenated as one name for the story), MacLean, Crook, Hope … even Kearton Bay itself was named after my paternal grandmother, whose maiden name was Kearton. Rhiannon, who has Wiccan beliefs, is named after a Celtic goddess. In mythology, her son was Pryderi, so I named her son in the book Derry. Rose’s name was a given. She’s crazy about the colour pink, so she and her daughters all had to have pink names. Her daughters are called Fuchsia and Cerise. Gabriel Bailey, on the other hand, got his first name because I needed an angel’s name for the story to work. His surname was inspired by my favourite film, It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey is a real hero to me, and I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather name my own hero after.

With the Skimmerdale books, it was the place names that took some working out. I wanted to be as authentic as possible, and spent ages looking at old Norse words, as so many places in the Yorkshire Dales have old Norse names. Skimmerdale itself is explained in This Other Eden. “Skimmer” was an old Norse word meaning “to shine brightly, to sparkle”. I had the image in my mind of sunlight glinting on the river as a Viking chief looked down upon it, inspiring him to give the area that name. The farm’s name, Fleetsthorpe, is derived from Fleets, meaning “stream or beck”, and Thorpe, meaning “the outlying farmstead”.

Bramblewick was a tribute to the novels of Leo Walmsley, who called his fictional version of Robin Hood’s Bay by that name. I borrowed it for a brief mention in A Kiss from a Rose, little realising that I would be revisiting the village and naming an entire series of books after it!

Fresh Starts at Folly Farm (Bramblewick Book 3) Kindle Edition

With my Moorland Heroes series, Saving Mr Scrooge made every use of the Charles Dickens’ classic on which it was loosely based. Jacob Marley became Marley Jacobs, and instead of Ebenezer Scrooge (which wouldn’t have sat well with modern readers) I named the hero Christopher Carroll, as Chris Carroll was the closest I could get to the original title. He was nicknamed Kit to be a bit more up-to-date – and because I was going through a Game of Thrones period at the time!

With Resisting Mr Rochester, the surname of the hero was fixed in stone, but I had fun playing around with the other important names. His first name became Ethan, which means strong and safe. Cara Truelove was inspired by two things: Cara means dear one, beloved (aw!) and seemed appropriate. Most people assume Truelove was just to emphasise how romantic she was, but in fact, it’s taken from an old legend connected with the surname Eyre. It tells how a companion of William the Conqueror, named Truelove, saved the life of the king, and was renamed Eyre in gratitude for giving William the air that he breathed. There’s no real historical evidence for this but it’s a lovely legend, and as I was looking for a connection to Jane Eyre I thought it was perfect. You can read more about it here. Although the book is obviously a tribute to the Charlotte Bronte novel, it was also inspired by Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Cara does share some characteristics with Catherine Morland in that novel, so I named Ethan Rochester’s home Moreland Hall in tribute.

For my current series, The Witches of Castle Clair, I did a lot of research into names with magical or mythical connections. The river was an important part of the town and its mythology, and the word Hrafn is old Norse for raven, so very appropriate for my stories. I found lots of names connected with the sky in some way for my St Clair family: Sirius, Star, Celeste, Sky, Iliana (ray of light), Raiden (god of thunder and lightning), Zephyr (west wind) and Aurora all have celestial meanings.

 

It does take time to research names, but I always feel more comfortable when I know I’ve chosen appropriate ones that fit the characters. I like to have them all in place before I start writing the book. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through and realising I don’t like the name, or it doesn’t fit, and having to change it. It’s worth making the effort right at the beginning. After all, these people are going to be my best friends for several months. The least I can do is get their names right!

Sharon Booth

 

 

Author Bio

Sharon Booth is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and an Authorpreneur member of The Alliance of Independent Authors. She writes uplifting women’s fiction – “love, laughter, and happy ever after”. Although a happy ending for her main characters is guaranteed, she makes them work for it!

Sharon grew up in the East Yorkshire town of Hessle, and now lives in Kingston-upon-Hull with her husband and their gentle, and thoroughly gorgeous, German Shepherd dog.

Since giving up her admin job at a medical practice, she spends a lot of time assuring her family of five children, assorted in-laws and hordes of grandchildren – not to mention a sceptical mother and a contrary hairdresser – that writing full-time is a proper job and she hasn’t taken early retirement.

She has a love/hate relationship with sugar (she loves it, it hates her), adores Doctor Who and Cary Grant movies, and admits to being shamefully prone to all-consuming crushes on fictional heroes.

Find out more about Sharon at linktr.ee/sharonboothwriter

 

Sharon’s latest novel, To Catch a Witch, is the third in the romcom series The Witches of Castle Clair. It will be published on April 28th and is available for pre-order here.

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To Catch a Witch

Return to Castle Clair for the final chapter of the St Clair story.
It’s three hundred and fifty years since the famous witch’s leap happened in the North Yorkshire town. Riverside Walk is swarming with eager tourists, wanting to pay tribute to the legendary Blaise St Clair. It’s also Christmas Eve, and the family has gathered to celebrate an eventful year, and to look forward to even better times ahead.
But a shock event changes everything, bringing a whole lot of trouble to the door of Castle Lodge.
For something big is happening in Castle Clair. Strangers are arriving, a prophecy is unfolding, a mystery is deepening, a reckoning is coming … and someone’s getting rather too fond of Mrs Greenwood’s baking.
The past is colliding with the present, and the future is in jeopardy. No wonder the High Council of Witches is a bit miffed.
Will the St Clairs have enough strength, courage ~ and chocolate fudge cake ~ to see them through?

Or is this the end of the world as they know it?

Thank you so much Sharon! I cannot wait for To Catch A Witch to be published!

Join me next time, happy reading, Samantha xx

 

What’s in a (Character) Name? #Guestpost #Reblog @DeborahMiles7 #IARTG #Indieauthor #Readingthrillers #AgainsttheFlowPress

Got to share this again, Deborah J Miles’ book Orchard View still sends the literary shivers when I think about the character Etta Franklin’s story… I am not so secretly hoping that Deborah writes another book, but I know that a lot of her time is taken up with her fantastic blog Against the Flow Press. Deborah is a supporter of indie authors like me and has just worked super hard on the #DecTheShelves promotion that took over Twitter during the Christmas run-up.

Orchard View also made it on to my Christmas gift list this year – Father-in-Law is a big reader.

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I will shut up now and let Deborah J. Miles tell you about her character names:

I ‘accidently’ wrote my novel while I was taking an online writing course through FutureLearn. A friend and I were doing the course together, really for something to occupy us while she was recovering from surgery. During one of the exercises in the course, the whole story just came to me. I kept it in my head and typed out chapter after chapter.

Bill Maynard was my first character. The name just seemed right for the character. I needed something short and to the point as a first name, hence ‘Bill’, and somehow ‘Maynard’ followed. It occurred to me after I’d finished writing that ‘Maynard’ is a surname which appears on my family tree, and ‘Bill Maynard’ was also the name of an actor.

My second character was the house itself, Orchard View. House names often refer to their location or history, such as Sea View, Hilltop, The Old Rectory, and The Old School House. The house was so named because it once overlooked an orchard.

My next character, Etta Franklin, was created by borrowing the name of a lovely lady I knew as a child. I loved the sound of the name ‘Etta’ which I realised must have been the shortened form of Henrietta. Etta needed to have standing, so ‘Henrietta’ was a suitable name, but she also needed to be likeable, and ‘Etta’, to my mind, is a much friendlier name. I used the phone book to choose her surname. I opened it at random, and pointed to a line on the open page, which as it turned out, contained the surname ‘Franklin’.

Norma Parker is the street busybody or Nosy Parker. I thought it apt that she should be called ‘Parker’. Her first name, ‘Norma’, was the name of an acquaintance from many moons ago who had some of the attributes I wanted for my character. Her nosy ways have her labelled as the ‘Neighbourhood Witch’.

As the story developed, and I added new characters, I found that if I could imagine the character, their size, stature, traits and personality, then a name would occur to me. I suppose I am drawing on memories I have tucked away about people I have known in one capacity or another, such as from family history research, celebrities, friends etc… There was only one I changed; Maeve became Mae because I felt Maeve didn’t convey the softness I was looking for in this character. Mae seems to be a favourite with my readers too.

https://www.futurelearn.com

Deborah J Miles
Deborah Miles is married with three grown-up children and lives in Kent.

She has worked in banking, tourism, education and social services, and has hosted international students for over 30 years.

Her interests include: genealogy, self-improvement, home computing, web design, D.I.Y/gardening, pen friends and writing.

Deborah is independently published and created the imprint Against the Flow Press for her first novel, Orchard View.

Blog: http://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter @DeborahMiles7,

blog: https://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deborah_j_miles/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/

Think I put Deborah’s blog on twice… make sure you don’t miss it!

Links to buy Orchard View :

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Well, that was awesome, big thanks to Deborah J Miles for guesting on my last post of 2019. It’s been a blast!

Onwards!

See you next time, when William B. Taylor and Helen Gerrard tell us about their illustrated children’s book The Bee Polisher.

Happy New Year, reading, writing, and everything love Samantha xx

What’s in a Character Name? #GuestPost Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland talks about character naming and her bestselling novel ‘The Secret to Happiness’

This time last month, I promised to bring news about novels I had read as part of my creative writing degree. However, I am unable to share my thoughts with you until they have been marked by my tutor – don’t want to be giving my best stuff away – it’s getting serious. As an alternative, I thought, I’ll write about a beautiful book I’ve read recently. The Secret to Happiness by Jessica Redland – then shut the front door! Jessica Redland herself, one of my favourite authors only goes and volunteers to guest post!

Over to Jessica;

Jessica May 2019 MAIN

I believe that the genre you write very much influences the choice of character names. An author of sci-fi or fantasy stories is very likely to pick unusual, quirky names or, more likely, make them up themselves. An author of historical novels is going to need to do their research and draw on names from that particular era. As an author of contemporary women’s fiction, I’m very much about contemporary names and I confess right here and now that mine don’t tend to be particularly quirky or unusual. But, I do have an approach to creating my character names which I thought I’d share.

 

FAMILY

 

The first names of all of my immediate family members (on my side of the family rather than my husband’s) have now appeared in one of my novels, and some surnames have been used too,although never together.

 

This didn’t start off intentionally. I first had the idea for my debut novel, Searching for Steven, in 2002 and started writing it the following year. I wanted a protagonist who had a very ‘normal’ name and came up with Sarah Peterson. As the story developed, I realised I had a trilogy on my hands, each subsequent part focusing on one of Sarah’s two best friends: Elise Dawson and Clare O’Connell.

 

In 2004, my younger brother started seeing someone called Clare (now his wife) and, in 2005, my older brother’s first-born was named Sarah. Suddenly there were two new family members named after two of my protagonists. At the time, I toyed with changing Sarah and Clare because the books weren’t finished and were nowhere near ready to be sent out to publishers, but I’d lived with those names for so long that it didn’t feel right to change them. Instead, a trend started.

 

My parents, Peter and Joyce, make a cameo appearance as regular customers in Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café. My daughter is called Ashleigh Brooke and I have created an chocolatier apprentice in Charlee and the Chocolate Shop called Ashleigh Brooks. Two of my nieces, Lucy and Erin, also appear in that book as one of the main character’s nieces and my other niece, Lana, helps out in the cupcake shop in Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes.

 

The characters are not based on any family members in appearance or personality – it’s just their names – although I do confess that the couple with my parents’ names are very similar in age and personality.

 

 

VILLAINS

 

The baddies in my books are usually horrible exes or partners who deserve to become exes and they’re generally just names plucked out of thin air although I am careful not to use names of anyone I know to avoid any offence because I’d already learned my lesson on this. Before I started my trend of using family names, I was a bit mortified to realise that I’d used my cousin’s name – Alan – in Searching for Steven for Sarah’s uncle who was a grumpy old man and died all alone, lying undiscovered for several days. When Alan’s daughters and wife read the book, they thankfully found this hilarious and ribbed my cousin for ages about it! More caution was needed after that!

 

One of my favourite moments was naming a character after a former horrible boss. I’ve had some very nasty bosses in my time but the worst one was when I was in my mid-thirties. He frequently made me cry, overlooked me for promotion, took my dream job away from me in a restructure and left me hanging for six days with no idea whether I still had a job or not. So when I needed to create a character in Bear With Me who got sacked after some customer complaints and I was looking for a character name, I didn’t have to look far, heehee! I have a sign on my office wall that states “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel”. So very true!

 

 

MIXING IT UP

 

For each book, I try to pick names that don’t sound similar, aren’t the same length, and don’t begin with the same letter. For example, in the series, the protagonists are Sarah, Elise and Clare so very different names. In my latest novel, The Secret to Happiness, I have Alison, Karen and Danniella; also very different. I did get myself in a pickle with Danniella, though, as I kept switching the spelling of it without realising.

 

This plan doesn’t always work, though. In Bear With Me, I named the two main males as Scott and Sam, with the brother of the main female character being called Sean. I had a last-minute panic about having 3 x 1-syllable names beginning with S so I changed Sean to Max. It didn’t feel right and, just before the book was uploaded to Amazon, I changed my mind again and got my husband to do a find and replace, returning it to Sean. A friend messaged me to say she’d started reading Bear With Me and had come across a really weird word in the book: cliSean. What? Then I realised what had happened. Hubby hadn’t done a find and replace on whole word only so it had changed every word that contained the letters ‘max’. ‘CliSean’ was meant to be ‘climax’. Oops! You’d think I’d have learned from experience on this as I’d done it once before. In the series, I had doubts that Clare was an Irish enough name and changed her to Siobhan but it didn’t feel right so I changed it back and found the word ‘deSiobhan’ in my MS instead of ‘declare’. Muppet!

 

 

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION

 

A huge baby name dictionary I bought before my daughter was born is invaluable for first name ideas. I also have a print-off of the 100 most common surnames in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales from which I frequently draw inspiration. I regularly Google most popular baby names in a certain year or in a certain country too. And if I’m looking for names for children, I get Ashleigh to name everyone in her class at school to see if any names feel right.

 

 

ANIMALS

 

Most of my books have animals in them somewhere. This can be a pet owned by a character or just a mention of an animal. Naming animals is great fun. My favourites are a giant house rabbit called Hercules in Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café. I’d like to claim a stroke of genius there but it was hubby’s suggestion. Hercules’s predecessors are called Titch and Dinks. I also have cats called Kit and Kat, and dogs called Hobnob and Twix. Nom nom!

 

 

KEEPING TRACK

 

It’s a bit geeky but I have an enormous spreadsheet containing tabs for people, businesses, places, street names, animals etc. All my books are set in and around the same place: the fictional North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay. If I didn’t keep track of the place names and businesses, I’d get lost. If I didn’t keep a track of the names I use, I’d discover that pretty much every minor male character is called Bob, which seems to be my go-to name.

 

 

 

I’m conscious I’ve written an essay so better not talk about book titles too! Thank you so much, Sam, for having me as a guest on your blog. Good luck with your studies.

 

Jessica xx

 

 

Jessica lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in England – the inspiration for the settings in her books – with her husband, daughter, cat, Sprocker Spaniel puppy, and an ever-growing collection of collectible teddy bears. Although if the puppy has her way, the collection will be reduced to a pile of stuffing and chewed limbs!

She’s an HR Tutor on a freelance basis and tries, often successfully, to fit writing around that.

 

Jessica is published by Boldwood Books and her most recent release, The Secret to Happiness, came out in September 2019. Her next few books will be re-vamped re-issues of her Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series, starting with Making Wishes at Bay View in January 2020, a full-length novel combining the novella Raving About Rhys with its sequel,Callie’s Christmas Wish.

 

 

Amazon UK                  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Redland/e/B00PO9I1Y4

 

Amazon US                  https://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Redland/e/B00PO9I1Y4

 

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12576082.Jessica_Redland

 

Facebook                     https://www.facebook.com/JessicaRedlandWriter/

 

Blog                             https://jessicaredlandwriter.wordpress.com

 

Website                       https://www.jessicaredland.com

 

Twitter                                    @JessicaRedland

 

Instagram                    https://www.instagram.com/jessicaredlandwriter/

 

Pinterest                      https://www.pinterest.co.uk/jessicaredland/

 

 

The sign:

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I need to get me one of those!

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Thank you so much Jessica! The Secret to Happiness truly is a beautiful book. Here’s my five star review.

Join me at the end of November when Ahava Trivedi shares how she picks her character names.

Happy reading! Samantha xx