I just finished revisions on a new book! Yes! It's out next December: HIS CONVENIENT BRIDE, Avon books.
It's a good un'!!
And my very next book - out this very May 27th - is: HIS DARK AND DANGEROUS WAYS!
I has such fun with that.
But I'm now working on a new proposal.
That means I have to come up with a whole batch of new names.
Naming characters in a book is just as hard as naming babies, and just as chancy.
I've recently been gifted with two new grandsons.
Hugo on the east coast, and Sebastian on the west coast.
Their parents agonized over what names to give them, and did not consult me. Or if they did, then they ignored whatever I said, which I forget now anyway.
Hugo and Sebastian.
But you'd think they'd listen to a person who has written over 30 books, wouldn't you?
So some of the names I proposed were way too historical. So what?
Wouldn't you want a son named Attila? You could nick-name him "Hun."
Nobody listens to mothers anymore.
But the point is that I am mother to all my characters, from dashing dukes to evil villains, though villains can be named most anything... except perhaps for Snidely McWhiplash, or something give-away like that.
The hero of my new book: HIS DARK AND DANGEROUS WAYS is Simon Atwood, Lord Granger. And our heroine is Jane Chatham. The villain is.... you'll have to see for yourself!
Now I have to name all new characters. Add to that the fact that I hate to re-use names, and what you have is a problem.
I have six "Name your Baby" books sitting on my desk even as I write this. I firmly believe that a name helps shape the character, in fiction and in life.
For example, if I'd been named "Elizabeth" as my mother told me I might have been, I'm convinced I'd have had more fun. I could have been "Liz" or Lizzie" or "Liza." Then I would have been able to sing torch songs while sitting on pianos, or have been a madcap, dancing in the Plaza fountain at Midnight with a slew of adoring, handsome playboys cheering me on. What a life I would have led!
Edith writes books. She doesn't even dance in the shower. Even her dog doesn't cheer her on.
So I name my characters carefully.
A hero named "Oscar"? Or "Lester"? Or "Bruce"??? Not to mention "Alan" or "Barry"?
Perfectly nice names in real life, but not names to dream about in a literary heart breaker. Especially a Historical one.
"Hugo" or "Sebastian"? Too creepy to write love scenes with the hero bearing your grandson's name! Besides, I already used them, long before the babies arrived.
Charles Dickens was the king of names. He kept a notebook in which he jotted down names which struck him as odd or unusual. He was a master. Think "Ebenezer Scrooge." The very name for a miser. It leaves the lips in a sneer when you say it. Brilliant!
Contemporary writers have an easier time, I think. And though I'm not comparing myself to him, Dickens was, after all, a contemporary writer.
Historical heroes and heroines have to sound like they fit in their era. I was shocked - I tell you shocked! when I discovered that the Great Georgette Heyer had a character named "Tiffany"! Who'd a thunk it? My editor would have me committed if I tried to slip a "Tiffany" into a novel set in the Regency era. But Georgette done it!
Rhett and Scarlett were perfect names. And who was the weakling? "Ashley." Works. But only for that one book because the characters are so indelible. And I don't take names from other books.
Take inspiration from the movies?
Our current heroes have good names, but not thrilling ones. There's Johnny (as in Depp) and Robert (as in Downey, Jr.) and Jude (as in Law).... Wait That's a great name! But "Sir Jude"? uh uh.
It would be hard to write about lord Viggo too, wouldn't it?
Old movies? I can't have Historical heroes with the same names of once adored hunky movie heroes such as: Rudolf (as in Valentino) and Tyrone (as in Power) and Farley (as in Granger - though "Lord Granger" is neat for a hero's title, as in HIS DARK AND DANGEROUS WAYS. Too bad that Lord Farley and Sir Tyrone wouldn't work.)
Names in Historical novels come in trends, just as names do in real life. Recently, masculine names in Historical Romances and films and TV were all: "Rock" and "Wolf" and "Spike"... hard names to show this guy is one tough testosterone filled character.
But the trend is slowing. I guess all the best name got used up, leaving nothing but "Sledge" and "Hammer" and "Philip's Screwdriver" yet to be used.
(Oops! Forgot "Mike Hammer!" There goes another one.)
Some hard guy names are still thriving in real life. I note with interest that there's an adorable toddler in my grandson's nursery school named "Stone."
Still, times they are a'changing.
It's different for females, even in this era of "spirited women" and "feisty" heroines. They don't have to have names to show they're not pushovers anymore. Sweet "Mary" and shy "Violet" can kick butt with the best of them. That's the whole point of feminism.
So now, here I sit, looking for plausible heroes with great macho, but not stupido, names.
Got any suggestions?
****THE WINNER OF THE AUTOGRAPHED Edith Layton book is: liz !That's what the impartial judge picked. That name really must have something gonig for it!
Please contact me at elaytonfel [at] aol.com with a good snail mail addy and it will be posted ASAP. :)