So, a while back I had a question in one of my reviews (I think on Goodreads and maybe Audioholics as well) about the names in my novella, Bob Moore: No Hero. I’m not sure how other writers come up with their names, but I have two main ways. Either I look at a translation of an English word in another language or I use the name of someone I know/knew. Usually. For those that are interested, this is the history behind each of the character’s names in No Hero. For the record, this post will be much more interesting (I think) when I do it for the sequel.
I wanted Bob to be plain. Bland. I didn’t want him to be too tall or too strong or too good looking. Just regular. So I went to one of those naming websites and looked for the most popular names in the US, both first and last. I rejected anything that sounded like it would make a good PI name (Jack, John, Mike, etc.). I ended up with Bob Moore. I found out later that there are a few famous people with that name but nothing so famous that anyone has complained. I certainly didn’t know about them. As an aside, I’ve written a number of things with characters named Bob. They usually die at the end.
Wendi has a bit of a funny history. I initially named another character, Whisper (Samanatha Soft), Wendi for the alliteration. But by the time I got to the chapter where Gale’s name was revealed, I’d forgotten that and given her the same name. My wife complained that it was confusing to have two characters with the same name. I had to go back and check. It works because Wendi and Windy are so similar. I used the “i” at the end because I hate it when people do that and I wanted to have a reason not to like her. Her maiden name is Angin (not revealed in either of the books so it isn’t canon until it shows up in a book) which is “wind” in Indonesian. Of course, I liked the name Gale because it isn’t immediately clear that Bob isn’t using her real name at first.
This is actually what brought about this post. I currently have a girl from Belgium watching my youngest son so I can work during the day. She’s reading the book and asked me where I got the name. Well, Arts is “doctor” in Dutch. I always laugh a bit when I read his name because it’s “Doctor Doctor.” Can’t you see I’m burning, burning? Anyhow, Ignaro Medico is “unaware doctor” in Italian. The reference there is obvious to anyone that has read the novella.
My youngest son’s middle name is Kaan (pronounced Khan). My wife picked it as it is Turkish and she’s half Turk. She wanted to name him Kaan but I vetoed it. No one that knows me would believe that I hadn’t used my wife’s ethnicity as a thinly veiled excuse to name my son after the best Star Trek movie ever. I initially spelled it Kaan but I changed it in later drafts to the more traditional spelling to avoid confusion.
Fun fact – she doesn’t have a real name. I never bothered to come up with one. Another fun fact – the picture of Cindar (Rachel Nichols) for the fake movie cast, is the single most popular page on my site. Someone is Googling her.
I was just going for the most ridiculous name I could for Shawn. His real name, Shawn O’Malley, was just the first Irish sounding name I could think up. I actually wish I had taken more time with this one. I’ve learned a lesson here. Never assume a character is a throwaway.
Fun fact – my notes have Ted’s name listed as Ted Venti, not Vente. I must have misspelled it. Ted Vente was another name I came up with on the spot. Ted doesn’t really mean much other than the alliteration with Tinkerer. I know that, when I gave it to him, Venti meant something in another language, but the only meanings I can find now is either “Twenty” or “Fan.” I’m not sure what I was going for there. I did find a translation of Vente as “to wait” in Danish so maybe that’s what it was. Sure, let’s go with that.
Samantha Soft. Like I said, initially, Whisper was going to be Wendi for the alliteration with Whisper but I ended up using that name for Gale. I decided on Soft as her last name and then adding Samantha for the alliteration.
There are a lot of characters on TV with the last name Novac. Now I know why. Novac translates into “money” in a number of eastern European/Russian languages. I now have a podcast partner on AV Rant named Liz but I wrote the book first. Sorry Liz.
First generic cop name that came to mind.
An obvious play on Gale. I do have a friend named Abigail but that’s a coincidence (unless she asks and sounds impressed in which case I did it totally on purpose).