Choosing names is never an easy process

by Kate Hoffmann, author of the upcoming Harlequin Blaze Into the Night (January 2011)

What’s in a name?  Shakespeare rhapsodized on the subject for a full seven lines in Romeo and Juliet.  But I prefer the screenwriter’s take on naming characters from Shakespeare In LoveRomeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter never would have worked.

And so, I sit at my computer, searching for the perfect character name, scouring books and websites, waiting for my hero or heroine to leap into my lap, christened and fully-formed.

Recently, the task has been made difficult because I’ve been spending so much time writing about a certain Irish family—the Mighty Quinns—for Harlequin Blaze.  Though Ireland boasts so many sexy hero names, I’ve been going through them like Diet Dr Pepper on a deadline.  In October of 2011, another Quinn trilogy hits the shelves, and I will add three more Quinns to the fruitful family tree.

When I choose a hero’s name, my entire history with the human race comes into play.  Every playground bully, cheating boyfriend, obnoxious neighbor and media bad guy must be considered.  With certain names come unwanted characteristics that are impossible for me and my readers to put aside.  But before the reader even sees a name, it must pass the editorial test.  And there, in my editor Brenda Chin’s office, poor Desmond Quinn has languished for several years now.  In Desmond, I see that sexy hero from the second season of Lost and my editor can’t put Desmond Tutu out of her head.

I never know where I might find a name.  I found Teague Quinn in a little boy at a graduation party.  If I really get desperate, maybe my editor will finally let Desmond come out and play.   Or perhaps you might have suggestions for future Quinn heroes?  Tell me what you think.

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Comments ( 6 )
  1. SheliaG
    November 2, 2010 at 8:51 am
    Reply

    When I meet someone new and their name sticks with me, I take note and save it for when I have a story for it. I like the name Teague. Good choice 🙂

  2. Sandii
    November 2, 2010 at 12:14 pm
    Reply

    I had a wee giggle at Romeo and Ethel! I use a baby book and study the meaning of the names and adore Irish names. I do love the name Teague – a hint of dark mystery?

    Sandii

  3. Birgit Davis-Todd
    November 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm
    Reply

    Kate,

    No question the names of the characters are so important! I see the issue with Desmond. Desmond Tutu doesn’t come to mind for me, however. Instead, Desmond conjures up a rather spindly, proper English hero–sorry!

    I like names such as Ian, Josh, Jonah, Brody and so on.

    Looking forward to the next Mighty Quinn books.

  4. Kate Hoffmann
    November 3, 2010 at 12:02 am
    Reply

    Oh, but the shortened version of Desmond is what I find sooo sexy. Des. My favorite hero name of all time has to be Will. I think half my heros begin as Will until I figure out another name for them. These next Quinns are Riley, Danny and Kellan.

  5. Brenda Chin
    November 3, 2010 at 8:48 am
    Reply

    See Kate!!! I’m not alone.

    And I’m more than happy to get a Will Quinn in the line…

  6. Debbie (Dutcher) Fritter
    November 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm
    Reply

    I know exactly what you mean Kate! It seems I have the idea and then wait for the character’s name to pop into my head. Like you, I sometimes find it in the most unusual places; I even used a circuit court clerk’s first name once because it fit perfectly.

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