Friday, October 19, 2012

The Character of Names with Christina Gonzalez

Today Christina Gonzalez joins MPB to discuss finding the perfect Character Names in several languages!

I am a stickler for names.  There is no way I can write a story without knowing for certain the names of my characters.  I will pour over baby name lists and dwell upon the nuances of how each name sounds and its specific connotations before giving it to anyone.  It simply has to match the character I have envisioned…which is no easy task. But when I have to find a name that fits in several languages (A Thunderous Whisper is written in English, the main character is Basque but speaks Spanish and another character is half-German, half Basque) the task can sometimes seem impossible!

When writing A Thunderous Whisper, I knew that I wanted to to find a strong Basque name for my main character.  She’s a twelve year old girl that has been told by her mother (and the society around her) that she is insignificant, a nobody, a whisper in a loud world.  Yet she possesses an inner strength, a spark, that when cultivated transforms her into someone who can make a difference.  Now what Basque name fits all that and is still easy to pronounce in English?  Turns out, I already knew someone who had the perfect name.  The name Anetxu is a strong-sounding Basque name that when shortened to Ani is very easy to pronounce. I also liked how simple the name Ani appears (just three letters), but that it represented a much more complex and culturally strong name (Anetxu Largazabalaga).

Then I had to find a name for the fourteen year old boy in A Thunderous Whisper who would become friends with Ani and unleash that inner strength she carried.  He is half German, half Basque and so it had to be a name that would be used in both languages (actually three languages because the Basque speak Spanish as well) . He is also very strong-willed, outspoken and adventurous.  What name would fit that bill? As I scanned Spanish names (many Basques have Spanish names) I realized that I wanted a name that sounded soft at the beginning (perhaps something with an “L” or “M”) and harsher sound in the middle (something with “K”, “T” or “P.”) I found Mattias, which in German would be Mathias; a perfect name for how I envisioned this character. 

Finally, with the names for my two main characters in my head, I could officially start writing the book!

1 comment:

Augusta Scattergood said...

My goodness. And I thought finding names that sounded southern (but in English) was difficult. Fascinating thought process. I love pondering just the right name.