Let's hear what Barbara has to say about it, though I may pop in on occasion too.
One of the great pleasures of writing books is getting to name the characters. It’s like having an infinite number of children and being able to give them any names you like, no matter how old-fashioned or just plain weird. In Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil, the first book in the Bayou Gavotte series, I had a great time with names – a heroine called Ophelia who floats down a river with flowers in her hair, a hero named Gideon, and secondary characters with names like Constantine, Zelda, and Artemisia. (I particularly love the name Artemisia, but then I’m partial to plant and flower names.)
Me, too Barb. Did you know Artemisia was the name of my heroine in Distracting the Duchesss? And Daisy was in Vexing the Viscount. Flower names were very popular at one time.
Fast forward to the second book in the series, Tastes of Love and Evil, which was released last week. (This is one of the first ebook only releases from Dorchester. It's a great opportunity for you to download a free Kindle for your computer and try Barabara's newest story! For the purists out there, a trade paperback edition will be available in six months, but I predict you won't want to wait that long.)
I was a few chapters in when I realized I’d given the hero and heroine ordinary names – Jack and Rose. I’d seen those names a lot in other books and on TV. Was I drawing my names from the current collective unconscious? Could be – we’re all affected by what’s going on around us. The names suited my characters, but… sigh. I just couldn’t leave them at that.
Jack in particular. It’s a good name, but it’s usually a nickname for John, which is about as ordinary as you get in English men’s names. Fortunately, about the time I was writing the story, I’d seen a performance of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline at the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern. It’s a wonderful theater, small and intimate. You sit so close to the stage that you can really see the players and sometimes even interact with them. In particular, I loved actor Drew Reeves’s rendering of the character of Iachimo.
Iachimo. Now there’s a different name! It could easily be shortened to Jack. So… voilà! Jack’s mother named her son Iachimo after a performance of Cymbeline she just couldn’t forget.
I already knew Rose was my heroine’s second name, and that her first name began with the letter T. Maybe my subconscious was playing with “Rose Trelawny,” a name I always liked the sound of. I’d even named the file for the story “Tearose.” Now, Rose is an irresistible vampire, with a strong sex drive and a vampire’s volatile nature. I‘m not going to tell you what her first name is, but feel free to guess. I had fun with this one. :)
Theresa. Theodosia. Tabitha. Tilly. Tamara. Temperance. Thomasina. Stop me if I'm getting warm.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about Ancient Rome, and I found some fabulous names there, such as Calpurnia, Claudia, and Livia. Rome had such sumptuous names! I already have plans for some of them.
Since I’m here to celebrate the release of my new book, here’s an excerpt from Tastes of Love and Evil. Jack, the hero (a sort of human chameleon, by the way, who can literally fade into the background), has just been shot by some bad guys, and although Rose doesn’t know him (she thinks of him as some random man), she’s given him her hotel room key so he can take refuge. But the bad guys are posing as feds, and they’re searching the hotel.
The room was empty.
No, it just appeared to be. “I told you there was no one here.”
Her nostrils quivering, every sense alert, Rose scanned the bed, the curtains, the embroidered mantle draped on a chair, the Elizabethan gown on the luggage cart. “Now get out of my room!”
The gunman ignored her, ducking in and out of the bathroom, glancing into the closet, going efficiently through every hiding place. Warmer, cried Rose’s senses, warmer, warmer, damn, oh God please no, as he shoved past the luggage cart to the window, and then as he returned, colder, warmer, colder, where the hell is the man? One-handed, the fake fed lifted the mattress and box spring, but no one was concealed underneath.
Sirens cried in the distance, and a second later the gunman’s phone squawked a warning. He left without looking back.
Rose retrieved her breakfast, double-locked the door, and scanned the room. Aha. She’d seen this phenomenon once before. She knew Random Man was in the room, somewhere near the window. “They’ve gone,” she said softly. “You can come out now. You need to have that wound tended.”
Nothing. Where was he?
“I brought coffee and doughnuts.” She put the food on the table. “I’d be happy to share, once we’ve patched you up.” Pause. “I know you’re here. I can hear you breathing.”
“I can smell you,” Rose said, her voice rising, tendrils of allure escaping. You and your blood. “I’m here to help, you fool!”
Still nothing. Or maybe…a faint shimmer, like heat rising in summer air, over on the luggage cart, right by the Elizabethan gown. Damn it, thought Rose. If he stains that costume… Anger coupled with the aroma of blood overwhelmed her senses, and her fangs slotted down. Purposely this time, she directed her allure toward the luggage cart. Another shimmer, instantly controlled, and then absolute stillness.
No more pussyfooting around. She smiled and sent a wave of allure crashing across the room. Random Man resolved into view, gold and tan and brown blending with the dress, then gradually reacquiring his own muted shape and colors, blue denims and Saints jacket, nondescript but definitely all there.
“God help me,” Random Man said. “Not another vamp.”
Back to names: What sort of names do you like? Popular? Old-fashioned? Invented? Foreign? Do you find unusual names distracting? Should names have meanings that suit the characters, or that have some symbolic meaning?
One lucky commenter will win a copy of Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil.
Thanks for being here today, Barb.
If you'd like to learn more about Barbara's Bayou series, please visit: http://barbaramonajem.com/ And be sure to leave a comment or question for her for your chance to win Sunrise in a Garden of Good and Evil.