Monday, November 7, 2011

What's in a name?

Naming a character has always been tough for me. Usually, I start writing under a working name for most of my characters. Eric Caine was no exception. One of my go-to answers is to go to a dictionary of names and start searching. In the case of Eric, I always liked the name; it’s short, and in my mind, projects power. For the last name, I wanted something that flowed with the first. I liked the symbolism of “Cain,” so decided to spell it Kayne. When my wife started to confuse it with “Kanye,” I knew it had to change. She suggested the spelling “Caine,” as in the British actor, and thus my protagonist was finally named.

Trishna (I love the name) came from a dictionary of names. According to the entry, it’s originally from India and means “Desired.” I like to give meaning to my character’s names. Trishna ended up being a composite of two characters I had in earlier drafts, but the name resonated with me so strongly, it survived every single re-write.

You can say that Nathan Blake is one of those characters who popped in my head fully realized. He was so kind to me, he even told me how we should address him. Somehow the name fit him perfectly and I’m not one to fight the muses when they favor me.

Antonio “Tony” Montenegro had a funny genesis. I had no idea what to call him, so I used “Tony” until I came up with something better. The off-hand choice was inspired by the titular character in the film “Scarface,” the novel taking place partly in Miami and all. But surely the name started to grow on me to the point I couldn’t conceive the character being called anything else. His family name was a conscious choice, it had to reflect both his Latino background and convey a sense of power, almost royalty; like someone who is part of a legacy.

Michael Singleton was born out of my subconscious at some point and snuck into the pages. I can’t recall when or how I chose his name, but it suited him and it stuck with the character.

James Sanders was a combination of someone I knew whom I used to call “Jimmy,” an allegory to sand. The character started out as a minor player in later drafts of the novel, but it soon took a life of his own and refused to play second fiddle. He’s a great example of a character telling a writer how things are going to be.

I hope you enjoy this morsel of trivia about my book and my process.

Keep on running!

1 comment:

  1. I really need to get one of those name books. Usually I'm looking at all the postcards and crap on my bulletin board or around me and land on something that sounds like a person's name. Luckily, my kids fared better in my naming quest.