About the Characters
by Sera Trevor
What’s in a name?
Well, a lot when you’re writing. When I’m writing a book, picking the right name can bring the whole character together. The wrong name, however, can leave me floundering. Sometimes the names come to me immediately, but other characters are more of a challenge.
In Curses, Foiled Again, I knew what to name my vampires right off the bat: Felix, one of my MCs, and his sister, Cat. I wanted my vampires to have a feline quality to them. I love how cats have dual identities—on the one hand, they can be very sleek and elegant, and are very efficient predators. On the other hand, they can also be ridiculous, as a million cat memes can attest to. Felix is named after the famous cartoon cat, and Cat—well, I think that’s self explanatory.
My other MC, John, was a little tougher. I wanted a sensible name that wasn’t very flashy, since John is a stoic person. I also wanted a very English name, to connect him with the centuries old curse that plagues him, which originated in the British colonies in the American colonial period. I think “John” fits the bill.
For John’s best friend, I wanted a Spanish name to reflect her Latina heritage. I have always loved the name “Dolores,” which derives from La Virgen María de los Dolores, which translates to “Virgin Mary of Sorrows.” I shortened it to “Lo,” partly because “Dolores” feels a little old-fashioned for a young lady, and partly because “Lo” sounds like “low” and more directly hints at the “sorrow” connection. Lo isn’t a particularly sad person, but she’s someone who has faced sorrows in her life and come out stronger for it. Part of her role in the story is to show an alternative to the way John deals with tragedy—which is by shutting down and checking out of his own life. Lo faces things, which makes her healthier.
And finally, my villain, Richard, who had the wrong name for half the time I was writing the story. I called him “Gene” because it has some Old Hollywood connotations to me because of Gene Kelly, and he’s a character with a huge connection to Old Hollywood. But for the life of me, I could not figure his character out! His motivations were very slippery to me, and I spent a lot of time floundering. Finally, I made a list of some famous villains to see if anything jumped out at me. It worked—I picked Shakespeare’s Richard III as his namesake, and from then on out, I understood him completely. To say more would be spoiling things, but needless to say, he is a very tricky person.
I don’t think it’s necessary for authors to always have complex reasons behind the names they choose, but I do think that it’s a great opportunity to add an extra layer of meaning. It might not be something readers pick up on, but for me, having the right names helps shape the story. Continue reading