Reflections on Naming Characters

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time now–years, actually. I do something rather self-indulgent when I write. I know many people (friends, acquaintances, readers) think I do it for them, but I get something out of it, too, that’s pretty special.

I name characters after people I know. When I first started writing, the first character I named after a friend was Teresa, who was Emi’s best friend. Well, Teresa was my best friend at the time, too, and I wanted to honor her with a permanent place in my books. Over the next few years of writing Emi Lost & Found, I named quite a few characters after people I knew. Melisa, Chris, Andrew, Brandon… those are just a handful of characters from that series that were named after either friends, peers or former coworkers.

I did the same with the Choisie series and carried it throughout Love Like We Do, Love Will and In the Wake of Wanting. In fact, the women in the Brothers Night scene in Love Like We Do (side a) were all my beta readers of that series – Daniella (Daniela Conde), Angila (Angela Meyer), Nicky (Nikki Haw), and Kristi (Christi Curtis). Do I model these characters after the people? No. That’s not what’s important. Just having their names jump off the page at me is what I love to see. After all, I’m writing fiction. 🙂

As I re-read my books–and if any of you know me, you know I do it often–it’s sort of like a time capsule for me. I get to see who was important in my life as I was writing each of these books. In 10 or 20 years when I read these again, I’m going to remember each of these people with such fondness, even if I’ve lost touch with them – and sadly, I have lost touch with many of them already.

I accept that people come into our lives for different reasons and that not everyone is here to stay forever… but having a little part of these important people in my books will keep the memories of them with me for as long as I can read.

Side note to Katie and Clarinda, my two besties… Katie, I named a character after you before I met you… Kaydra… and she was so much like you in spirit (and her nickname is Katie) that I couldn’t name another after you. Although I haven’t finished her book, she’s still a part of my universe. Clarinda, I just haven’t found the right character for you. You’re not a side character. You’re too special for that, but I think you knew that already.

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