Friday, August 10, 2012

The Character of Names with Suzanne Lazear

Today Suzanne Lazear, debut author of the steam-punk Faerie book, Innocent Darkness, is here to share the story behind the names of her characters as part of her blog tour!

The names are often one of the first things I come up when starting a new story. Sometimes I put a great deal of thought into a name, trying to be clever with meaning and such. Other times, they just happen—as if the characters themselves are whispering in my ear going this is my name.
That’s what happened for a lot of the characters in INNOCENT DARKNESS. 

Noli has always been Noli. I was sitting up in a tree thinking about this new idea I had and if I really had time to write it.  I decided then and there that her name would be Magnolia and I’d call her Noli. There was no real rhyme or reason and I didn’t know anything about her other than she’d have a tree house and live in Southern California.  I did know a Magnolia, a spunky, spirited little girl, but Magnolia wasn’t specifically named after her (though I think they’d get along.) 

Noli’s last name, Braddock, was carefully chosen. I use Behind The Name and Surnames BtN a lot when I am looking for first and last names and nicknames. I usually find the comments section to be especially insightful (and sometimes amusing).  Her middle name came much later when I needed a full name for her mother to use while angry. In my research I found that during the Victorian era girls were sometimes given their mother’s maiden names as middle names. So, Noli became Magnolia Montgomery Braddock.  

Steven and James have always been Steven and James. I wanted names that was fairly common, but had Gaelic translations. (Stiofán and Séamus). In the very original character sketches, back when I was trying to decide if I wanted to write this (since I was writing something else at the time), their last name was Muir, but by the time I actually started drafting the story they had become Darrows. Darrow is said to come from the Gaelic darach, which means "oak tree".  

I get a lot of people asking why Noli calls Steven “V” and how I got the idea for that nickname. While I was drafting I decided that Noli, being Noli, would have given Steven a nickname, something beyond “Steve.” I asked some of my teen betas for suggestions. One of them had a friend named Steven she called V, so I stole the nickname because I thought it was fun, a little different, a little irreverent, and very much like something Noli would have chose. 
Charlotte Wilson sort of snuck in there. She wasn’t part of my original outline.  But when she appeared she was always Charlotte. I did look up the name to see what a Charlotte would be called in that era, where I discovered the nickname Lottie.  I didn’t give her a last name for a very, very long time.  That one I just sort of came up with.  

I get asked a lot about how to pronounce Creideamh, which is Kevighn’s sister’s name. The pronunciation I use is cray-jif, though there are quite a few variations.  According to my research, the name means “faith” or “belief.”

Elise, Steven and James’ little sister, who we hear about but never meet was originally Alice, but since Noli makes Alice in Wonderland references, I changed it as to not confuse the reader.   

I decided to use Jeffrey as Noli’s brother’s name because when we were kids, by brother had an imaginary twin brother named Jeffrey and I’d always liked the name.

Kevighn’s name is pronounced “Kevin.” In my earliest drafts he had silver hair, hence Kevighn Silver. Silver may or may not be his real surname. He is very much a man of mystery and he likes it that way. One of my teen betas thought the book had too many blonds and that dark-haired guys made better anti-heroes, so Kevighn became a brunette, but I kept the last name.  When I started drafting I meant to write Keighvin and couldn’t remember how to spell it.  I did a lot of my writing of this story with no Internet access. By the time I looked it up; I’d decided I liked my spelling better.

Queen Tiana was nearly Queen Tiarna. Tiarna was the name of a street I drove past every day on the way to work. I wanted something that started with a T was vaguely fantastical.  I kept leaving out the “r” and decided it sounded much better that way. I didn’t realize until later Tiana was also a princess in a Disney movie.  

Notice a theme about not being a good speller here? Spell check is my friend.

So, there you have it, the story behind the names of the characters in INNOCENT DARKNESS. You can learn more about them (and see some character sketches) at  

Thank you so much for having me on today.

~Suzanne Lazear

1st- Mundie Moms, (kick off) character interview w/ Nolireview

8th- YA Bibliophile, Character Interview, Steven "V"

9th- G. Carolina, Guest Post

10th- The Readiacs, Review

11th- Girls in the Stacks, Character Interview w/ Kevighn

12th- I Read To Relax, Guest Post

13th- Fiction Freak, Review

14th- Page Turners, Author Interview

15th- Teens Read & Write, Review

1 comment:

Hwa Sun Kang said...

Funny how some of the names came from misspellings :)