What’s In A Name? By Kate Kelly
What’s in a name? Quite a lot as it turns out. Here’s an example. When our second son was born we didn’t have a name picked out for him. (As I’m writing this, I’m shaking my head and trying to recall exactly why we didn’t.) After the birth, my husband was driving home to collect our other son to bring him to the hospital to meet his brother. Out of the blue, my husband flashed on a boy he occasionally played with as a child. The boy’s name was Adrian. When DH arrived back at the hospital he asked what I thought of the name. The minute he said Adrian, I knew we’d found our son’s name.
Not such a remarkable story. But here’s the thing. My husband is Dutch and fair-haired. I’ve been a red-head most of my life. (My hair has recently turned blond. I like to think the sun is bleaching it. But it could have something to do with the number of white hairs that have started to appear.) Our first son is blond. The older Adrian gets, the darker his hair grows. It’s as close to being black as hair can get without the help of a bottle.
The name Adrian means the dark one among the fair-haired.
I keep a slim book of names and their meaning close at hand, because whenever I start writing a new book, the story won’t flow for me until I have the correct names for my characters. Characters’ names in the first three or four chapters can and will change frequently. Sometimes I get it right from the beginning, but often it’s not until we’re better acquainted that the right name comes to me. My characters have to live up to the name I give them, and if they don’t then I’m on the hunt for another one.
In my December release, A Deliberate Father, Jordan’s name changed several times during the first draft, but Nell was, well, Nell, right from the beginning. Here’s a small excerpt from the book where the hero and heroine are discussing their names. Nell always feel safer calling Jordan by his last name, Tanner, and not for the first time, he corrects her.
“Jordan,” he snapped before he could stop himself. That got her to look up from the damned label she had half peeled off.
“Jordan,” she repeated. “Your mom picked a nice name. I’ve always hated my name. Nell. Sounds like a workhorse.”
“It suits you.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Don’t hit me with the compliments all at once. They might go to my head.”
He poked at the embers and placed another stick of wood on the fire as he carefully considered his answer. “It sounds like someone you can depend on, someone you can trust. What’s Nell short for?”
By the wilting look on her face, he could tell he wasn’t scoring any points. What was wrong with being dependable and trustworthy? They were honorable traits in a world that seriously lacked accountability.
We all have favorite names, but are they favorite because of the name itself or the person of whom the name reminds you? I just realized this is a great opportunity to harvest a new crop of names for my characters! What are your favorite names? Bring them on!
Oh, and Happy Holidays! May your season be merry and bright.