Sunday, April 06, 2014
Where do you get your names? I've been asked this question fairly often. Not so much with my romance or romantic suspense, but with of my science fiction. Every good sci-fi needs aliens. Since it's rather unlikely that the characters will find aliens with the names John, Paul, George or Bob, an author has to get creative.
Sometimes, the names are right there, as in the case of Caprilla Mayeese. It just popped into my head as I was writing. I saw his piercing blue cat eyes, his sleek midnight fur and his name sounded in my mind. The rest of the giant cats, or Fellicians, were easy (though the name of their race gave me fits for a day or two). I wanted somewhat exotic names, but, I hope, not too ridiculously difficult to pronounce. Again, I found their names fairly easily. Ariella, Escascia, Errollic and Cavitus.
Other aliens weren't as easy to name. I had just introduced a sentient, moose-like alien (Vandaran), the Chairman of the Galactic Committee—basically, the president of everything—and had no idea what to call him. I could wing it a little while referring to him as “The Chairman” but that gets cumbersome.
I happened to have my son at his Aikido class and the name of the dojo was on the door. Aikido of Volusia County. One of the dads opened the door as I was writing. I looked up and saw the name backwards on the glass door. “Aisulov,” I thought. “That makes a great character name. And so Chairman Aisulov was baptized.
The name of his scurrilous Vice-Chairman came from my Chevrolet van. Reversing it looked funny, so I changed the order slightly, making her name Telorvech. Her security head, the odious Mabatsuou, also flashed into my mind. They are both characters who gain importance in book 3, The Maker. I really like them, even if their hearts are blacker than the pits of hell.
I introduce some other characters in The Maker, book 3, who come from other planets. One of these is Bankaywan, given to me by a telemarketer, who was calling from Bank One—though with her heavy accent, it sounded like “Ban Kwan”. I'm thinking of changing it, though. It still sounds a bit too much like Bank One. From Bankaywan, I brought in Sta Hyt Mai, though not terribly exotic, it was another name that simply occurred to me when I created her.
For the name of the Mining Guild planet, I resorted to a list of baby names. I found it among the Hawaiian names and it was so perfect, I used it. Aolani means Heavenly Cloud, appropriate for a planet that is mostly crystal blue seas and sandy beaches—a tropical paradise. Other names, like the planet where Matilda was born and raised, Saltulle, came from my imagination. (I just Goggled Saltulle and the first 8 hits I got were related to my books, how cool is that?)
Sometimes a name won't come to me right away. I have to find one myself because the character doesn't tell me. Usually, these are minor characters, but sometimes they aren't. I chose the name of one of my sci-fi characters, (who is introduced in book 4, The Kahlea) by digging through baby name sites. I had a very specific meaning in my mind. I wanted something about a warrior and I wanted something that would give hope. I chose Duncan Chandler. Duncan means Dark Warrior or Dark Skinned Warrior. Chandler means Candle Maker—in effect, a maker of light. This character is the culmination of all that the characters have fought for and worked toward. He is the unexpected hero. Needless to say, Duncan is a favorite. I never expected him to evolve as he does.
Shakazhan is the name of my distant, mythical planet in themiddle of absolute nowhere. The planet that was once the center of the Timokuan culture, the battleground that was and will be. I wanted something that had an edge to it. Something harsh, alien, impressive. It guess it kind of sounds like someone sneezing, but I like the feel of it. I should also mention Timokuan. I got that idea from Tomoka, which is a fairly common name in this part of Florida. It's supposedly the name of a Native American tribe, but it's more likely that it meant something entirely different and that the Frenchmen who encountered them, misunderstood what they were being told. They were also called Timucua. I fiddled with the spelling a little bit and came up with Timokuan. It is both the singular and plural form of the word.
Kahlea, the ancient evil race, is the same way. It is one Kahlea or dozens. And trust me, you don't want even one anywhere around you. To know them is to loathe them. Actually, to know them is to die. They're short tempered and can kill you with their minds.
Leordovik – honestly couldn't tell you where that name came from. I think it's another one that just sort of evolved. I had actually used the name Lordvik earlier in the novel and I needed something that sounded similar, but wasn't quite the same. I added a couple more vowels and came up with Leordovik.
I find myself rambling somewhat, so I suppose it would be wise to curtail this article. I'm also distracting myself by Goggling Timokuan, Leordovik and Shakazhan. Giving myself a little ego boost in the process.
I find it fun to talk about my character name choices. Finding the perfect name for a character is challenging and fun. Having just the right meaning or sound is an important facet of a character's personality. A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but I doubt we'd feel quite so enamored of Romeo and Juliet if they'd been named Ogden and Hortense.
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