Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Kingdom for a Name

I realized the other day that despite the fact that it's a topic that means a lot to me, and there are some interesting stories, I've never told you the reasoning behind the names of most of my Bookanian characters. So since My Kingdom for a Quest is publishing in less than three weeks (scary thought there!) I thought I'd share today.

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Robin: I've mentioned before that Robin came with her name. Actually ... that's not quite true. It took me a few minutes to settle on the perfect name. You see, at the time of her creation, she was going to be of a lower class and an only child (or at least a singleton birth). I chose Robin for her name because her father was going to try to cover the Fairy Godmother's mistake by trying to raise her as a boy, and thus chose a name that could go either way. That plot point changed, but the name stuck.

Readers of Take know that her middle name's Marcia. That was something that took a bit more deliberation, but I chose it because it means "Swordmaiden" or something similar.

Robert: The obvious choice for the twin of a girl named Robin. Despite this, I originally tried to name him Rednal. Part of this was the fact that I had just read a book with a unicorn named Rednal, and I liked the name, but another factor is the fact that I have a cousin (or two) by that name, as well as another character in book 2 of the Rizkaland's, who is also a multiple (twin brother to Reuben), and had a similar personality to Robin's twin brother.

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However, after a discussion with mom about this, logic won out, so I now have two characters named Robert. His middle name (which I can't call off the top of my head at the moment) doesn't have any meaning. I just wanted something that would go with Marcia.

Rosamond: Another intuitive one, since Rosamond is the name of the Sleeping Beauty in the Grimm's version of the tale. At the time, that was all I was going to use, but as I plotted, I decided I wanted to work in all the variations of of Sleeping Beauty's name. She goes by Briar Rose in some versions, so I decided that her first name would be Briarra to allow for it as a nickname. To acknowledge the ballet and Disney, I gave her Aurora for the last of her names ... but Briarra Rosamond Aurora didn't feel right to me, so I added one more name: Fiona.

I liked Fiona as her third name. It flowed well. It's one of my favorite girl's names (I have three others). In fact, I wrote the entire first draft with it as her third name. But as I started editing, I remembered another, older version of the Sleeping Beauty tale, a rather weird one called "Sun, Moon, and Talia," and I decided to reference it as well, so Rose's third name became Talia. (This also meant changing the name of Robin and Robert's great-aunt. She was originally Fiona as well.)

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Eric: It took me forever to settle on a name for this young man. As Sleeping Beauty's Prince, I knew he needed an awesome one, but (confession time here) I'm not that great with boy's names. One name that stuck out to me, but I didn't care that much for, was Henry, which, had I been plotting the story now, I might have gone ahead and used, since my current history headcannon is that Henry the Second was the prince of the fairy tale.

However, at the time, I hadn't stumbled on that bit of history, and I didn't care for the name at the time. So I brought the problem to my mom who said I should chose a name that was manly, and that sort of thing, and we settled on Araclee, based on the name Hercules.

Fast forward a few weeks and we were talking about the book again, and this time she declared the name stupid and we broke the name into Eric Lee, which I was reluctant to do because I already had a character named Erik in Rizkaland. (And yes, it is awkward to switch between the spellings when I switch between the books.)

I really like his middle name being Lee, however. It's an important name on my Mom's side of the family, and I have cousins, uncles, aunts, even my grandfather have some version of it as at least their middle name.

Also my mom has a blogger friend named Marcia-Leigh, who named her daughter after me. (*cough, cough* actually, she'd been considering the name Kendra, but wasn't sure about it, but then received an email from my mom, which contained my name, and decided it was a sign of God that she should.) I consider the fact that Robin's middle name is Marcia, and Eric's is Lee to be my return of the favor.

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Madeleine: If I remember right, I named Madeleine before I named her brother. I'm not entirely certain what were all of the factors in the decision, but it included the fact that I was a huge fan of Madeline as a kid (I collected the dolls). The decision to make it Madeleine was influenced by the fact that my friend (the one who helped create Rizkaland and whose dad inspired the Eaglewings of the Rowa), would chose to be Queen Madeleine of Fance whenever we did our game where we pretended we were kings and queens of various countries (the current version of this game is League of Royals.) Madeleine isn't French in Bookania, but it's a name I love, and she's a character I love.

Maximilian: I don't remember why I chose his name at all, beyond the fact that it went well with Madeleine.

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Samson and Shira: When I first decided to create a second set of mixed up twins from before the Change, I knew I needed to give them names ... so I chose Samuel and Samantha. I really liked these names, but as I worked with them in plotting (trying to find a gift for Samuel - I knew immediately that she would get strength, but I wasn't so certain for him, for a while I tried to give him Beauty) I decided that they weren't the right names, and I wanted some that reflected their gifts better. So I consulted my baby name dictionary (I own two of them, and have a third at easy access), and decided to change them to Vernon (which means springlike) and Valarie (which meant strength). Except that then I finally settled on song for his gift, and I wasn't loving these names either. So I consulted my dictionary again, and discovered the name Shiri, which had the spin-off Shira, meaning "song," and I fell in love. Consulting the S section of the boy's half, I couldn't find any that meant strength, but there was Samson, which had that connotation, and I was sold.

Vernon: However, I was reluctant to cast the name Vernon to the side, since it's my grandfather's name, and I'm rather fond of it. So I created a younger brother for them and gave it to him, as well as the gift mechanical genius since my Grandfather's a mechanic. Thanks to a scolding from Shira, he's the only character, other than Rosamond, from before the Change who has his full name official.

Kimberly: I had a best friend by this name when I was five. I like the name. What can I say? (Though now that I bring this up, I'm reminded that since Shira's name-change, I don't have a single Samantha anywhere in my writing, and I had a best friend by that name, too. I also have a shirttail cousin by that name.)

Cancaline: I stole her from the fairy tale The Little Good Mouse (Or, the Jolly King's Daughter according to the Great Illustrated Classics, which is where I originally read the story).

Grumedam: I took him from the fair tale ... "Prince Narcissus and Princess Pontella" (If I remember right - her name was actually Lucetta in the version I'm familiar with, and the tale is called "The Evil Enchanter.") The fairy who combats him in his official story was named Melinette, which correlated with my own Melina (who had already been named) and I liked that.

And ... wow ... this post is getting long. I think I'll cut it short here and make a part two! Feel free if there's any character in particular whose naming story you'd like to hear!

6 comments:

  1. Cool! It's fun to learn the thought process behind the names for characters, places, and other things. How did you ever choose Robin Hood's name??? Haha, just kidding.

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    1. That was a long and harrowing decision, Abbey, though not nearly as difficult as Casperl and Arthur ;)

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  2. I love names and the stories and meanings behind them and how they were chosen! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I know! Names can make or break characters, and it's such an interesting process to find one that fits your character just right, and so rewarding when it happens.

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  3. This is pretty cool. Baby name books are awesome. Ours is pretty tattered. I'm interested in where Doranna came from.

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    1. I intend to include her in the next post.

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Hi! Now that you've read my post, hast thou any opinions that thou wouldst like to share? I'd love to hear them!

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