Friday, June 8, 2012

The Character of Names with Anne Greenwood Brown

Today debut author Anne Greenwood Brown tells us the tail of The Character of Names in her novel, Lies Beneath!

Hi everyone! 

When Gabrielle asked if I’d share the meaning behind the LIES BENEATH character names, I couldn’t say no. Naming characters is one of the best parts of writing. 
First, as a matter of context, LIES BENEATH is the story of Calder White, the only brother in a dysfunctional family of murderous mermaids, who live in the freezing cold waters of Lake Superior. 
Because nearly every culture has some version of mermaid legends, I wanted to pick names from several continents. Here’s how that worked out:

Calder (pronounced KAHL-der) is a Celtic name that means “a stream running away from a larger body of water.” Given Calder's desire to break away from his family unit, this name worked for him. It also has a bit of a romantic flair, which didn't hurt either!
Maris. Ah, poor Maris. Maris was originally named “Ren.” Ren is a Japanese name meaning "water lily." It's actually a male name, but I wanted it for her because (1) she isn't particularly feminine, and (2) she works against the character of Lily Hancock, so I liked that their names were connected (even if I was the only one who knew it). But can you guess why it had to change? For those of you who are fans of the Nightshade books, one of the male leads is named Renier (nicknamed Ren) and he is engaged to Calla (nicknamed Lily). Bummer. Too close. Ren had to go, and she became Maris, which is Latin for "of the sea."
For the other two mermaid sisters, I made another continent hop and picked from a list of Native American names. 
Pavati is the middle sister. Her name means “clear water.” I thought this was ironic for her because her motivations are the most complex, and not completely understood until the end of the series. 
Tallulah is the youngest sister. Her name means “leaping water.” This name conjured up an image that fit with what she does at the end of LIES BENEATH. Plus, I think it’s pretty!
Finally, I chose White as the merfamily's surname because of the blank canvas it evoked. There's a nothingness to the color white, and that blankness works well for the characters. Because these mermaids are drawn to human emotion, which they see as bright colors, it made sense that those human emotions would be splashed onto the blank canvas of the mermaids’ otherwise bleak minds.
So there you have it! I hope you enjoy LIES BENEATH (Random House/Delacorte, June 12, 2012)


tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...


Anonymous said...

excellent post! I hate commenting and i dont typically do it but since i enjoyed this, what the heck! Thanks alot!:)