My guest today is Emlyn Chand, author of the Farsighted series. It’s an interesting post. Naming characters is such a time consuming process for me; I like seeing another author’s thought process. I’ll be back with my own post this week – and a big announcement, so stay tuned! ~Heather
What’s in a Name? Our Characters’ Names Matter. Here’s How I Chose Mine
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
We all know the famous Shakespeare quote, but as writers and readers, do we agree with it? Would a rose really smell quite so sweet were it to be called a stank blossom or a goon-da-dabby? And how does this apply to the characters that populate our favorite fictional worlds? Should an author assign names to her characters willy-nilly, or is more thought required?
If you ask me, thinking is always a good thing. That being said, I spent hours poring over dozens of name options for the characters in Farsighted. Each moniker was carefully chosen and lovingly assigned. Now I’d like to share the meaning behind these names in this long overdue blog post.
I changed Alex’s name three times while writing Farsighted, true story! Originally, his name was Connor Roy, and he had no proud Greek heritage to speak of. Connor is the name of my best friend’s fourteen year-old niece. She was the first person to really get excited by Farsighted, and I wanted to honor her by naming the main character after her. Unfortunately, it just didn’t fit. Connor Roy means “of the wolves, red.” Not super meaningful in the scheme of things. When I changed the character’s name, I still wanted to pay homage, and so Connor Roy became Howie O’Connor. When short for Howell, the name means “seeing clearly.” Cute, huh? When short for Howard, it means “brave.” Both definitions suit the character, but I just couldn’t get over how Howie sounds like someone with a speech impediment trying to pronounce Harry (as in the boy who lived). Seriously, say Howie three times fast. You’ll see. So I changed the name… again. Finally, I landed on Alex, meaning “defender of the people.” That just screams good guy, doesn’t it? I decided to go Greek instead of Irish to strengthen the connection to Tieresias, the blind Theban prophet who serves as the inspiration for this novel. I wanted a meaningful last name, so I got my Google Translate on and invented the name Kosmitoras. I like how it sounds like cosmic while still being thoroughly Greek. I won’t tell you what it means, though. That’s a secret for another day.
Simran “Simmi” Kaur Shergill
The name Simran is Punjabi, just like the character. It means “meditative chanting.” If you’ve read the story, you should be having a little light bulb moment now. Kaur is the surname given to female Sikhs; whereas, Singh is reserved for men. Kaur is a marker of Simmi’s religion, just like her kara bracelet and long, uncut hair. Shergill is a Punjabi last name. The Hindi word sher means lion or tiger. And what can Simmi’s mother do? Oh, that’s right, she talks to animals. Shapri Teak Shapri is an alternate spelling of the name Shepry, meaning “friendly and honest mediator.” That’s a pretty cool name for someone who can talk to ghosts if you ask me. It’s also unique, just like our girl Shapri. Miss Oleta Teak Miss Teak, mystique. Get it? Yeah, that was a pretty obvious thing to do and kind of kitchy, but I just couldn’t help myself. Teak is an exotic wood, and both Shapri and her mother are described as smelling like nature. Oleta means “truth,” because sometimes I enjoy a bit of irony.
Dax is a super cool, underutilized name. It means “leader,” a point that will become important later in the series (cough, cough, spoiler alert). LaFache is yet again the product of Google Translate and my rampant imagination. It’s spun from the French fâcher, “to make angry.” Dax is from a wealthy blue blood family in Long Island, New York. I totally see him as a sophisticated French guy. And, if you didn’t know already, yes, he has anger issues.
Brady doesn’t mean anything important, technically it means “descendant Of Bradach.” I’ll be the first to admit, I chose this name simply because it sounded like a popular D-bag’s name–perfect for the school bully. I’ve never personally known anyone named Brady; I just went off stereotypes and my knee-jerk reaction to the name. Evans was tacked on because the two names sound good together. Evans can mean “son of Evan” or “young warrior.” Take your pick.
Alex’s dad’s name is Greg. Greg is a Greek name, meaning “vigilant, watchful.” Think about it.
Alex’s mother owns a floral shop. The name Susan means “lily.” It’s a cute tie in without being too overt. I could have just named her Lily or Rose or Bluebell, but I feel like I used my full kitchiness quotient when I came up with Miss Teak. Also Susan is a good, plain name consistent with the character’s upbringing in a homeschooling farm family.