Today New York Times bestselling author, Alyson Noel lets us in on the story behind the names of her latest novel.
Since my debut novel, Faking 19, I’ve had a thing for unusual names. While the protagonist in that book was named Alexandra, which is common enough, she did have a best friend named M. A name which, to my knowledge, has never made the list of most popular baby names.
From there I went on to write Art Geeks & Prom Queens, featuring the protagonist, Rio Jones. Followed by books featuring characters with names like, Winter (Kiss & Blog), Echo (Saving Zoe), Ever and Drina (The Immortals), Bodhi (The Riley Bloom series), and now, with the debut of Fated on 05.22.12, I’m introducing Daire Santos from my new YA series, The Soul Seekers.
For me, names are an integral part of the creative process. Usually when the idea for a character appears, it’s in a hazy, obscure form, with only a hint of the sort of circumstances she’ll face. It’s not until I give her a name that her appearance sharpens, and her personality traits emerge—allowing me to really get acquainted so the story can take shape.
Like most writers, I’m often thinking ahead to the next book even while immersed in the current one, and so I’ve been keeping an ongoing file of unusual names since my first book was published back in 2005. Now, twenty books later (Echo- Soul Seekers book 2 is in production, and I’m currently working on book 3, Mystic), I still find myself both adding to, and culling from, that list.
Names can come from anywhere. The credits at the end of a movie are always a good source. Which is why I’m often the last one seated long after the theater has emptied. Employee nametags, building directories, and of course, baby naming sites come in handy as well. And while I can’t remember where I first came across the name Daire, I do know it had been languishing in my file for some time, just waiting for the perfect character to claim it.
Daire Santos is that character. Half Irish, half Hispanic (Santos translates to Saint), she was raised by a single mom who works as a Hollywood make-up artist, and has spent her entire life moving from movie-set to movie-set. And while all of that non-stop travel has made her very self-assured and fiercely independent, it’s also left her a bit jaded and emotionally guarded. In order to succeed in her role as a Seeker, she’ll have to endure a brutal initiation and allow herself to become vulnerable in ways she’s always sought to avoid.
In other words, she’s tough with a tender side—the name suits her well.