A Rose by Any Other Name
By Meg London
There are any number of details that go into writing a book besides the plot. One of my favorites is picking the names for my characters. My editor and I collaborated on the names for my Sweet Nothings series—she chose Brian, Guy (Emma’s boyfriend in Murder Unmentionable), Arabella and Liz. I was left to name my protagonist and the new characters I created. I have a couple of baby name books that are a huge help—and my husband still gets nervous when I get them out despite the fact that we are now old enough to be grandparents! And the phone book (now on-line rather than in hard copy!) is invaluable in looking up last names.
If I want a name to fit the time period of my character’s birth, social security runs a wonderful website that lists the most popular names for each birth year. Emily was popular the year my protagonist was born so I decided to tweak that a little and call her Emma. It seemed to suit her personality.
Since the book takes place in Paris, Tennessee, I researched the ten most common last names in Henry County where the town is located and chose Taylor. Thus Emma Taylor was born.
Marjorie Porter is the grand dame of Paris—from an old, established family, wife of the mayor and wealthy socialite. She’s married into the Porter family—one that equals her own in status and wealth. Again, I researched the most common names in Henry County, and Porter seemed the perfect surname for this family.
Sylvia Brodsky, who helps Arabella and Emma at Sweet Nothings, is convinced she is descended from the Grand Duchess Anastasia, so she obviously needed a Russian last name. Brodsky is the name of a famous Russian poet, isn’t too hard to spell or pronounce, so Sylvia became Sylvia Brodsky. Earl was on several lists as a popular man’s name in the south, so Sylvia’s boyfriend became an Earl.
The strangest thing I have uncovered about naming characters is that almost all of my books have a major or minor female character named Deirdre! Why Deirdre, I have no idea! Must be something subconscious.
Don’t forget to check out Meg’s Sweet Nothings series and meet all of these wonderful characters she mentioned for yourself! And be sure to check out our review of A Fatal Slip here!