Names in TSC

Mpepper/ December 8, 2022/ Writing

Every author has his or her own way of naming characters. For me, the characters often name themselves, but sometimes they tease me, kind of like a game of Rumpelstiltskin. They’ll make me guess. If they’re nice, they might give me hints like, “It starts with B” or, “It’s one syllable.” Then I have to figure it out from there.

For The Switchgrass Crown, I knew Lucas and Fay’s names right away. Lucas… I don’t know. He just is Lucas. Fay, of course, is a nod at the Arthurian underpinnings of the story. Her name was deliberate, and I think she lives up to it. Below, I have some notes on other character names in TSC.

Emory. His original name was Murphy! I wrote about half the book with that name before realizing it was too similar to Muriel’s name. And I knew I didn’t want to changer her name, so Murphy became Emory. Honestly, I think it suits him better, too. When I changed the name, his character became more solidified in my mind at the same time.

Landis. I met a certain person with this last name a few years back, and it’s safe to say he made an impression. When devising the character for TSC, this felt like the perfect name. I realize it’s kinda similar to Lucas, but since the story is told from Lucas’ POV, I don’t think there’s much chance for confusion. At least, I hope not.

Rowland. This is Lucas and Fay’s last name, borrowed from actress Gena Rowlands (though I dropped the “s”), who I worked with on a film set, and she is just so lovely. In truth, Lucas didn’t have a last name for most of my writing, but at some point I realized I needed one and Rowland sounded right.

Vivienne. Another nod to Arthurian legend. There was never any question about Viv’s name or character.

Muriel. She’s a swimmer, so the name suits her. And honestly, I just love the nickname “Muri.” I did at first spell it “Murielle,” but didn’t want to do that and “Vivienne.” So I chose to change Muri’s spelling because Viv really feels like she needs those extra letters but Muri doesn’t.

Geoffrey and Desmond. Des was always Des. But Geoff was first named Gregory, and it didn’t suit. Still, like that old game of Rumpelstiltskin, I knew it was something with a G that was more than one syllable. Eventually, I guessed correctly, and as with Emory, once he had the right name, Geoff’s personality came clear as well.

You can read The Switchgrass Crown for free via Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. Or ask your local bookseller to order a paperback copy for you. (At the time of posting, I do not recommend ordering a paperback from Amazon because it is listed by third-party merchants with a surcharge. Barnes & Noble has it listed for the correct amount.)

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