Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Character of Names with Author Stasia Ward Kehoe

Today debut verse novelist, Stasia Ward Kehoe has stopped by to give us her take on the Character of Names concerning her characters in Audition. 
SWK: Naming characters is such a fascinating element of the writing process.  With the myriad of fun 'Notes on Names' that follow reviews here at The Mod Podge Bookshelf, this is certainly the right place to share a little bit about naming characters in AUDITION.  
Coming up with names in contemporary YA presents different challenges than in fantasy or sci-fi novels where you can build a whole new world, and a new vocabulary.  In realistic fiction, an odd name stands out as a statement while an ordinary name likely invites many readers to picture someone they know.  There are similar obstacles in plotting realistic fiction versus say, dystopian paranormal. Your characters are not allowed to fly or jump through walls or bite (well, hardly ever).  You strive for choices that the reader can realistically consider making himself or herself.  From plotting to naming, the process needs to feel organic and work with the shapes of the language.  So, how did I name Sara and Remington? 
I wanted a name that was classical and had a New England feel, since she’s from Vermont.  In the end I named her after the main character in A LITTLE PRINCESS by Frances Hodgson Burnett. That’s why the name is spelled without an “h” at the end, just like Burnett’s Sara Crewe who, by the way, was also a graceful dancer!

Did I name this bad-boy choreographer for Remington Steele (the hot Pierce Brosnan) or Remington brand razors (since Rem always has a bit of stubble)?  Nope.  It’s actually the name of the son of a friend of a friend.  I chose it because it sounded complicated and unusual, but also very strong and full of consonants.

Right now I am writing a book about a young actress.  I named her after a real 1960s celebrity.  It was interesting because using that name creates an immediate image in my head which I have to fight against because the character looks very different from the real-life star.  Ah, the battles writers must wage!  And not just against vampires!

On a funnier note, a guy came to the house last week to fix a sink.  He told me his name was Elon, which I absolutely loved.  Wikipedia informs me that the name means “true” or “oak tree” in Hebrew--interesting, huh?  So, look out for an Elon in my next novel.  I just can’t resist.  Although I do wonder if I’ll keep picturing the plumber...

I loved The Little Princess growing up, though the story always made me cry! If you want to read Audition, I have a copy for a follower who answers Stasia's question found below:

SWK: If you could change the name of a favorite character from a movie or television show (just because it bugs you or something), who would it be and what alternative name would you suggest?


roro said...

lovly post

M.A.D. said...

Mary DeBorde [M.A.D.]
zenrei57 (at) hotmail dot com

Now THAT is a very good question lol. Hmmm ... okay, honestly .. and this is going to sound silly, but the name *Doogie* on the old medical show "Doogie Howser, M.D." really sounded so AH-noying :P

Seriously, Fred Ted or Ed ... ANYthing but Doogie. So let's go with Heath Howser, M.D. ;D

Bee said...

The Little Princess is one of my fave childhood reads and I love that it inspired your character name! :)

I'm guessing all kinds of names for that actress girl.

Rebecca (RivkaBelle) said...

haha, Using "Elon" but wondering about picturing the plumber...hehe...Names are so cool, so distinctive and "personalizing" - and it's neat to see how naming characters goes :o)

Changing a name? Oh man...I don't watch a lot of tv - aside from football, the only thing I watch consistently is Hawaii Five-0 ... Oooh! Okay: the detective Chin on Hawaii Five-0, it's always weird to me that McGarrett goes by his supercool last name; Danny is "Danno" and then Chin is just...Chin. He needs a cooler handle, but I'm not sure what I'd suggest :o)

Actin' Up with Books said...

I would change the name of Rachel's daughter, Emma, on Friends. A few months before that episode aired, my niece Emma was born. See the dilemma here? So many baby girl were named Emma after that, I think it was on of the top 5 names of the year. Now my niece Emma has so many friends with the same name.

Same as the Bella phenomenon - thank you Twilight, ahem.

So I would change Friends "Emma" to Ruthie - another R name to go with Ross and Rachel.

Joli @ Actin' Up with Books
actinupwb (at) gmail (dot) com

Vivien said...

I would change Hermione from Harry Potter. While everyone now knows the name, as a kid I just couldn't pronounce it. Until the movies came out, I came up with just about every variation possible. I always wanted something simple, like Ann lol.

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Eli Squared said...

I always love to find out the reasoning behind characters names. It's always so interesting.

The character I'd change the name for is Lance Sweets from Bones. First of Lance is obnoxious. I feel like he's a Michael or Andrew, and then Sweets? Come one! He could be Stevens or Stone and it would work the same way. Right now his name makes him seem 14!

Melanie McCullough said...

I have to go with Vivien. I would change Hermione. Growing up, reading those books, it was something I struggled to pronounce correctly.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Kaye M. said...

Thanks for the giveaway! If I had to change any character's name in a book, it would be Fared in Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - simply because that's my uncle's name and I'm not that fond of the character and his constant mooning over Meggy.

Kaye M. said...

*Forgot to leave my info.

Kaye M.

busylearninghome at gmail dot com

brendajean said...

Not being British, I pronounced Hermione as her me own. When the movie came out I laughed my head off! Duh me! I wouldn't change it though- it fits her perfectly:)
I am a follower.
Thanks for the chance!

bchild5 at aol dot com

Maria (pronounced Mariah) said...

Great question! For me it isn't that I don't like the names it's that there are so many names that I have such a hard time knowing how to pronounce them when I am reading that I wish they were something I could prounounce easily. When I try to talk to fellow readers about them I don't know how to say the names properly. Give me a pronounciation guide if your going to make the names all tricky.

mmafsmith at gmail dot com

Megan said...

Hm. Good question. I can't really think of any one instance of a name that makes me nuts but I would definitely change every instance of the name Heather. Being a teen in the 90's- every teen movie had a Heather and they were rarely nice. So I'm biased against that one for sure.

AmethystDaydreams at zoho dot com

Amanda said...

Well, from the TV series Haven, the two characters' names are Audrey Parker and Nathan Wuornos. I really like them as a couple, Nathan and Audrey, but there was this one time where he said, "You're not just my partner, Parker." The "p" alliteration kind of bothered me, so I'd keep her first name, Audrey, and change her first name to something else. Not sure, but probably Wharton or something. Anything that doesn't start with a "p"


geschumann said...

Princess Leia (sp?) from Star Wars. I'm used to it, but don't like it. I would change it to something strong like, Kate. Thanks for the giveaway! Gloria

geschumann at live dot com

SupaGurlbooks said...

Umm yeah I'm going with Megan! Heather *as it is my own name* was always given a bad wrap so when i see it in a book / movie I think oh no she's gonna be bad!


Margaret said...

Although my choice is originally a book and there have been many movies of it I would change From Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice Mr. Bingley's name to something else. In fact Mr. Collins name is so normal that they should be switched and he should be Mr. Bingley instead. It's such a silly name!


Jolene and Family said...

Fun question and I'll have to go with Greek since I just had a marathon on a few weeks ago. I loved all the names on there except for Casey's brother Rusty. My sister's dog name is Rusty so I just couldn't find the name to fit his character. I always though Kevin or Greg would have been a better fit


Lora1967 said...

The first time i watched the show CHUCK I thought how I would love to change his name to Tommy or something LOL

Gaby said...

Right now I an reading a book called Between Here and Forever and the guy's name is Eli and It kind of bugs me because it kind of sounds like a girl's name so if I could change it, it would have to be a name that is rarely used, maybe something mysterious and sexy like Nathaniel or Alec yeah that what I would pick.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently watching this show and the hot main guy has a not to hot name. He goes by the name Ari but that so does not go with this guy so if I could change his name it would have to be Adam (now tha's a hot name)

Penny Kathleen said...

This is an interesting question! It's so funny, because I always thought Jennifer Aniston's character Rachel on Friends should not have been Rachel. To me, Jennifer only looks like a Jennifer and I think that's the only name she should ever use as her character! LOL