A Rose By Any Other Name

Woden’s Day, and Susan Sarah here….

Yesterday Pat brought up the subject of names, author names and pseudonyms, which got me thinking about naming characters. It’s a delicate thing, this picking of character names. I can spend hours–-days even-–poring over name books looking for just the right name for a character. Main, secondary, tertiary or a throwaway name, they can all impact and influence the story. That’s for fictional characters–in the case of actual historical people in the book, sometimes the author is well and truly stuck, and must make the best of it.

Names can help the authenticity of a book, can help weave the fabric of that story and time period, or can undermine it and disturb the flow. Names have historical and social contexts, and those need to be considered.  Some names sound very modern to our ear, despite their historical pedigree, while others are just plain ugly, or hard to pronounce, or have some social context of being frumpy or dowdy, sly or weak. The modern connotation can be as important as the historical context.

I have a big library of name books, with pages well-thumbed and liberally salted with penciling and underlining, sticky notes and printouts of additional lists. When I named my kids, I had two or three favorite books, and I still use those. Now the library has expanded to include books that list historical names and give census lists and historical background, as well as books that consider the social, numerological, and even kabbalistic context of names. Any source that helps is a good one.

Alphabet Historical context is just one factor to consider–authors are also thinking about authenticity, sound (even read silently, the sound of a name is still very important), spelling, pronunciation, how many other characters’ names begin with the same letter or a similar sound, and so on. For example, if you’re flying through a story and need a quick name for a maidservant or a reverend, some character who pops into the story and pops right back out again, it’s easy to pick up the nearest name book, choose a name, and go back to the writing. The pitfall is that if you’re snatching names on the fly from the beginning of the book–everyone might begin with A, or by Chapter 4 or 5, the names start with B, and a little further on, C. *g*   Of course we intend to mix up things to disguise the author process, but sometimes these things happen!

Authenticity is a biggie. Character names should fit the historical context of the story, and both sound and feel right for the character, the setting, the historical era. Many good name books will give the origin and history of a name, along with some notes on census reports showing the most common and popular names in certain centuries. Withycombe’s The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names is one of the best for this sort of information.
Reading3_1
A name can be historically accurate, and yet sound all wrong to the modern reader, something else to take into account. My favorite example of this is the name "Tiffany" — if you saw this name for a medieval heroine, you might shudder at this bit of apparent inaccuracy. Yet the name did occur in the medieval era, its origin being Theophania, or Epiphany. According to Withycombe, there was a Tiffany recorded in England in 1315, along with others. It’s one of several religious holiday names that were popular in earlier centuries, along with Christmas, Noel, and so on. Try getting "Tiffany" past a modern day editor, let alone a reader–!

I once named a medieval heroine "Michaelmas"–the feast of the Archangel Michael in September was her birthday. She first appeared as a secondary character, the young sister of the hero, Gavin Faulkner, in Angel Knight–both of them, brother and sister, had a natural healing ability. Readers loved the character (who was 8 years old in Angel Knight) and I got letters asking for her story. There I was, well and truly stuck with a name that would be difficult for a romance heroine. When it came time for her book–Lady Miracle, a story about Michaelmas growing up to become a 14th-century female physician–I compromised and called her "Michael," since the use of masculine names for females was very prevalent in the medieval era. Ladym
While Publishers Weekly gave Lady Miracle a starred review (and that review is framed on my wall!), there was one memorable reviewer who bashed the book down to a crummy two-star because the heroine had a guy’s name and she just couldn’t get into the story.
The moral of that experience is, think way ahead when you name a character! But as the author, I loved Michaelmas, the character and the name. Looking back–I think I would have chosen the same name again.

Besides accuracy and authenticity (which are two different factors!), there’s the sound of a name, the spelling, the pronunciation. Can I live with typing that name ten thousand times? In one book, I had named a character Ned — and a few chapters into the book, changed it to something else. Writing  "Ned said" was driving me mad. And while I love the name James and have used it twice (in fact, the hero of my current WIP is called James), the possessive, James’s, is awkward.

I’ve sometimes changed the name of a hero or heroine repeatedly while writing a story. The character won’t click for me unless the name is right for that character. Sometimes the name is right there from the beginning, full-blown, and other times, it takes an effort of constantly searching and changing. For example, I once called a hero Geordie–nahhh, this just didn’t work for him. Geordie was a little brother, not a hero. Once I called him Duncan, the whole character sprang to life like a hologram. The heroine of my current WIP (James’s heroine!) was Kirsty in the proposal, yet she just wouldn’t walk, talk, or make sense until I discovered that she was, in fact, Elspeth. I will have to remind my editor not to write up any back cover copy based on the proposal….

And of course, can the reader pronounce the name — that’s always a consideration. I work with Gaelic and Celtic names often, and they are the de’il to pronounce. There are ways of gently showing the reader how to pronounce the name, by having another character learn to say it phonetically, or allowing some interior phonetic dialogue, something like that. Most of the time when I use a Gaelic name, I try to go for the ones that are obvious–like Bethoc, Morag, Niall, and leave Siobhan or Eibhlin, lovely as they are when said out loud (basically, Chevonne and Evleen), aside.

Triskelion When a character is a historical person with a tricky name–that needs to be handled delicately where possible. In my last manuscript (which will be out next year, more on that later when I have more info!), I had to work my way around Gruoch, Lulach, and Gillecomghainn–all I could do was try to simplify the names as much as possible and pray that the reader would go with it.

Sometimes the historical names for a time period are just so plain and boring–our friend Susan Miranda has had to work her way around a plethora of men named Charles, William, and James, and women named Barbara, Mary, Sarah, and Anne–bunches of them all in the same circle, and she’s done an admirable job of it. No wonder, looking back over history, that men and women came to be called by their titles and properties, since so many of them were sporting the same name!

Highland_waterfall So, a few thoughts on names and naming characters — there’s much more to be said, but I have to get back to James and Elspeth, who are deep in a subterranean cave in Scotland looking for lost fairy gold, with the MacBaddies hot on their trail!

~Susan Sarah

88 thoughts on “A Rose By Any Other Name”

  1. Haha, guess I’ve been complaining too much about names lately, Susan!
    Still, it’s true: if I weren’t dealing with real people, I’d use different names so it wouldn’t be so confusing, both to write and read. I’m guessing if someone compiled a “Top 100 Baby Names” for 1665, it would be more like “Top 8”: either for royalty/nobility (Charles, Henry, James, & Henrietta) or saints (Anne, Mary, Elizabeth, Catherine, Barbara, John & George) or just sturdy Old Testament names (Samuel & Joan)
    OTOH, it’s a whole lot easier than trying to sort them all out by titles….

    Reply
  2. Haha, guess I’ve been complaining too much about names lately, Susan!
    Still, it’s true: if I weren’t dealing with real people, I’d use different names so it wouldn’t be so confusing, both to write and read. I’m guessing if someone compiled a “Top 100 Baby Names” for 1665, it would be more like “Top 8”: either for royalty/nobility (Charles, Henry, James, & Henrietta) or saints (Anne, Mary, Elizabeth, Catherine, Barbara, John & George) or just sturdy Old Testament names (Samuel & Joan)
    OTOH, it’s a whole lot easier than trying to sort them all out by titles….

    Reply
  3. Haha, guess I’ve been complaining too much about names lately, Susan!
    Still, it’s true: if I weren’t dealing with real people, I’d use different names so it wouldn’t be so confusing, both to write and read. I’m guessing if someone compiled a “Top 100 Baby Names” for 1665, it would be more like “Top 8”: either for royalty/nobility (Charles, Henry, James, & Henrietta) or saints (Anne, Mary, Elizabeth, Catherine, Barbara, John & George) or just sturdy Old Testament names (Samuel & Joan)
    OTOH, it’s a whole lot easier than trying to sort them all out by titles….

    Reply
  4. Haha, guess I’ve been complaining too much about names lately, Susan!
    Still, it’s true: if I weren’t dealing with real people, I’d use different names so it wouldn’t be so confusing, both to write and read. I’m guessing if someone compiled a “Top 100 Baby Names” for 1665, it would be more like “Top 8”: either for royalty/nobility (Charles, Henry, James, & Henrietta) or saints (Anne, Mary, Elizabeth, Catherine, Barbara, John & George) or just sturdy Old Testament names (Samuel & Joan)
    OTOH, it’s a whole lot easier than trying to sort them all out by titles….

    Reply
  5. I confess to looking through phone books and jotting down the names of people on the news – for a modern story, of course. Historicals would be a whole different kettle of fish, and it’s nice to know where the good sources are!
    I do switch them out, btw – this first name with this other last name. It’s just good to know what names are common to the area you’re writing about.
    Last night on a crime documentary about a murderer in Texas, one of those interviewed was a Texas Ranger named Clete Buckaloo – and a hottie he was too! How perfect is that? “Clete Buckaloo”. I love it. But I don’t know that “Buckaloo” would work for a hero, as evocative as it is.
    Do you all ever use real names you’ve heard somewhere that just resonate with you?

    Reply
  6. I confess to looking through phone books and jotting down the names of people on the news – for a modern story, of course. Historicals would be a whole different kettle of fish, and it’s nice to know where the good sources are!
    I do switch them out, btw – this first name with this other last name. It’s just good to know what names are common to the area you’re writing about.
    Last night on a crime documentary about a murderer in Texas, one of those interviewed was a Texas Ranger named Clete Buckaloo – and a hottie he was too! How perfect is that? “Clete Buckaloo”. I love it. But I don’t know that “Buckaloo” would work for a hero, as evocative as it is.
    Do you all ever use real names you’ve heard somewhere that just resonate with you?

    Reply
  7. I confess to looking through phone books and jotting down the names of people on the news – for a modern story, of course. Historicals would be a whole different kettle of fish, and it’s nice to know where the good sources are!
    I do switch them out, btw – this first name with this other last name. It’s just good to know what names are common to the area you’re writing about.
    Last night on a crime documentary about a murderer in Texas, one of those interviewed was a Texas Ranger named Clete Buckaloo – and a hottie he was too! How perfect is that? “Clete Buckaloo”. I love it. But I don’t know that “Buckaloo” would work for a hero, as evocative as it is.
    Do you all ever use real names you’ve heard somewhere that just resonate with you?

    Reply
  8. I confess to looking through phone books and jotting down the names of people on the news – for a modern story, of course. Historicals would be a whole different kettle of fish, and it’s nice to know where the good sources are!
    I do switch them out, btw – this first name with this other last name. It’s just good to know what names are common to the area you’re writing about.
    Last night on a crime documentary about a murderer in Texas, one of those interviewed was a Texas Ranger named Clete Buckaloo – and a hottie he was too! How perfect is that? “Clete Buckaloo”. I love it. But I don’t know that “Buckaloo” would work for a hero, as evocative as it is.
    Do you all ever use real names you’ve heard somewhere that just resonate with you?

    Reply
  9. I remember my sister planning a novel. The hero was to be called Brock. I couldn’t let it go… It sounded like a chicken squawking “Brawk! Brawk, brawk, brawk”. I don’t know if I killed the novel for her or not, but I never heard of it again….. Sorry sis.

    Reply
  10. I remember my sister planning a novel. The hero was to be called Brock. I couldn’t let it go… It sounded like a chicken squawking “Brawk! Brawk, brawk, brawk”. I don’t know if I killed the novel for her or not, but I never heard of it again….. Sorry sis.

    Reply
  11. I remember my sister planning a novel. The hero was to be called Brock. I couldn’t let it go… It sounded like a chicken squawking “Brawk! Brawk, brawk, brawk”. I don’t know if I killed the novel for her or not, but I never heard of it again….. Sorry sis.

    Reply
  12. I remember my sister planning a novel. The hero was to be called Brock. I couldn’t let it go… It sounded like a chicken squawking “Brawk! Brawk, brawk, brawk”. I don’t know if I killed the novel for her or not, but I never heard of it again….. Sorry sis.

    Reply
  13. Wonderful post, Susan Sarah. Thank you for reminding me of one of my favorite words: tertiary. I love the way it looks and the way it sounds when said out loud. But them I’m a Word Nerd.
    One of my favorite books to use AFTER I have named a character is the *Dictionary of Fictional Characters* by William Freeman. It lists character names from literary works, plays, operas, etc. Twice I’ve come up with what I thought was a unique name, only to find out it was the name of a character from a published work. Drat. However, I’m glad I found out before I became attached to the name!
    Regarding unusual names like Siobhan–while I love the name, my brain “sees” it phonetically as SEE-o-bawn, and I can’t get around that, alas. Celtic names can be beautiful but torturous. I’ll leave the Celtic names to the experts who don’t have the eye/brain problem that I do. (I can pat my head and rub my belly, but I can’t walk and chew gum.)

    Reply
  14. Wonderful post, Susan Sarah. Thank you for reminding me of one of my favorite words: tertiary. I love the way it looks and the way it sounds when said out loud. But them I’m a Word Nerd.
    One of my favorite books to use AFTER I have named a character is the *Dictionary of Fictional Characters* by William Freeman. It lists character names from literary works, plays, operas, etc. Twice I’ve come up with what I thought was a unique name, only to find out it was the name of a character from a published work. Drat. However, I’m glad I found out before I became attached to the name!
    Regarding unusual names like Siobhan–while I love the name, my brain “sees” it phonetically as SEE-o-bawn, and I can’t get around that, alas. Celtic names can be beautiful but torturous. I’ll leave the Celtic names to the experts who don’t have the eye/brain problem that I do. (I can pat my head and rub my belly, but I can’t walk and chew gum.)

    Reply
  15. Wonderful post, Susan Sarah. Thank you for reminding me of one of my favorite words: tertiary. I love the way it looks and the way it sounds when said out loud. But them I’m a Word Nerd.
    One of my favorite books to use AFTER I have named a character is the *Dictionary of Fictional Characters* by William Freeman. It lists character names from literary works, plays, operas, etc. Twice I’ve come up with what I thought was a unique name, only to find out it was the name of a character from a published work. Drat. However, I’m glad I found out before I became attached to the name!
    Regarding unusual names like Siobhan–while I love the name, my brain “sees” it phonetically as SEE-o-bawn, and I can’t get around that, alas. Celtic names can be beautiful but torturous. I’ll leave the Celtic names to the experts who don’t have the eye/brain problem that I do. (I can pat my head and rub my belly, but I can’t walk and chew gum.)

    Reply
  16. Wonderful post, Susan Sarah. Thank you for reminding me of one of my favorite words: tertiary. I love the way it looks and the way it sounds when said out loud. But them I’m a Word Nerd.
    One of my favorite books to use AFTER I have named a character is the *Dictionary of Fictional Characters* by William Freeman. It lists character names from literary works, plays, operas, etc. Twice I’ve come up with what I thought was a unique name, only to find out it was the name of a character from a published work. Drat. However, I’m glad I found out before I became attached to the name!
    Regarding unusual names like Siobhan–while I love the name, my brain “sees” it phonetically as SEE-o-bawn, and I can’t get around that, alas. Celtic names can be beautiful but torturous. I’ll leave the Celtic names to the experts who don’t have the eye/brain problem that I do. (I can pat my head and rub my belly, but I can’t walk and chew gum.)

    Reply
  17. This is a general question but I wasn’t sure where to ask so I’m putting it here in hopes someone will see it and maybe answer it sometime. A while back one of you wonderful Wenches said something that seemed to indicate that there is pressure from your publishers to continually make the love scenes hotter and spicier. Is this true or did I just misinterpret something that was said? I’m asking because I occasionally will be reading a book by an author I really like, only to come across a love scene with some things that I’m not particularly comfortable with. In the past when this has happened I have reluctantly cut that author from my automatic TBR list on the assumption that if that’s where her stories are going to be heading I don’t want to go there. I’m almost 60 years old and I don’t know that I’m overly prudish, but maybe I am. Anyway, if this is happening because of pressure from the publisher, I hate to “take it out on” the author by swearing off her books. Is there any way to express my views to the publisher if that’s where it’s coming from (not that they’d probably pay much attention)? Or do I just have to bite the bullet and skip over the parts I don’t care for?

    Reply
  18. This is a general question but I wasn’t sure where to ask so I’m putting it here in hopes someone will see it and maybe answer it sometime. A while back one of you wonderful Wenches said something that seemed to indicate that there is pressure from your publishers to continually make the love scenes hotter and spicier. Is this true or did I just misinterpret something that was said? I’m asking because I occasionally will be reading a book by an author I really like, only to come across a love scene with some things that I’m not particularly comfortable with. In the past when this has happened I have reluctantly cut that author from my automatic TBR list on the assumption that if that’s where her stories are going to be heading I don’t want to go there. I’m almost 60 years old and I don’t know that I’m overly prudish, but maybe I am. Anyway, if this is happening because of pressure from the publisher, I hate to “take it out on” the author by swearing off her books. Is there any way to express my views to the publisher if that’s where it’s coming from (not that they’d probably pay much attention)? Or do I just have to bite the bullet and skip over the parts I don’t care for?

    Reply
  19. This is a general question but I wasn’t sure where to ask so I’m putting it here in hopes someone will see it and maybe answer it sometime. A while back one of you wonderful Wenches said something that seemed to indicate that there is pressure from your publishers to continually make the love scenes hotter and spicier. Is this true or did I just misinterpret something that was said? I’m asking because I occasionally will be reading a book by an author I really like, only to come across a love scene with some things that I’m not particularly comfortable with. In the past when this has happened I have reluctantly cut that author from my automatic TBR list on the assumption that if that’s where her stories are going to be heading I don’t want to go there. I’m almost 60 years old and I don’t know that I’m overly prudish, but maybe I am. Anyway, if this is happening because of pressure from the publisher, I hate to “take it out on” the author by swearing off her books. Is there any way to express my views to the publisher if that’s where it’s coming from (not that they’d probably pay much attention)? Or do I just have to bite the bullet and skip over the parts I don’t care for?

    Reply
  20. This is a general question but I wasn’t sure where to ask so I’m putting it here in hopes someone will see it and maybe answer it sometime. A while back one of you wonderful Wenches said something that seemed to indicate that there is pressure from your publishers to continually make the love scenes hotter and spicier. Is this true or did I just misinterpret something that was said? I’m asking because I occasionally will be reading a book by an author I really like, only to come across a love scene with some things that I’m not particularly comfortable with. In the past when this has happened I have reluctantly cut that author from my automatic TBR list on the assumption that if that’s where her stories are going to be heading I don’t want to go there. I’m almost 60 years old and I don’t know that I’m overly prudish, but maybe I am. Anyway, if this is happening because of pressure from the publisher, I hate to “take it out on” the author by swearing off her books. Is there any way to express my views to the publisher if that’s where it’s coming from (not that they’d probably pay much attention)? Or do I just have to bite the bullet and skip over the parts I don’t care for?

    Reply
  21. Hello Wench Susan/Sarah!
    Love the picture of the waterfall. Where is it located?
    I agree about the names. They’ve got to be just right or the character won’t walk and talk. I haven’t had much trouble so far. My h/hs seem to walk on stage and say, “Hello, my name is…” and it’s all uphill from there.
    One of the neatest name’s I’ve ever heard was Dixon Dangerfield. Would make for a great spy novel hero, I think.
    Really looking forward to James and Elspeth’s story. (Love the name Elspeth, btw! Much better than Kirsty.)
    Nina
    P.S. Sharon, I agree with you. An over-the-top sex scene (they don’t even deserve to be called love scenes, IMHO) flattens the rest of the book. Instead of anticipating the physical intimacy, I’m left dreading it, for myself and the characters. I too have stopped reading certain authors because of it. (none include our Wenches)

    Reply
  22. Hello Wench Susan/Sarah!
    Love the picture of the waterfall. Where is it located?
    I agree about the names. They’ve got to be just right or the character won’t walk and talk. I haven’t had much trouble so far. My h/hs seem to walk on stage and say, “Hello, my name is…” and it’s all uphill from there.
    One of the neatest name’s I’ve ever heard was Dixon Dangerfield. Would make for a great spy novel hero, I think.
    Really looking forward to James and Elspeth’s story. (Love the name Elspeth, btw! Much better than Kirsty.)
    Nina
    P.S. Sharon, I agree with you. An over-the-top sex scene (they don’t even deserve to be called love scenes, IMHO) flattens the rest of the book. Instead of anticipating the physical intimacy, I’m left dreading it, for myself and the characters. I too have stopped reading certain authors because of it. (none include our Wenches)

    Reply
  23. Hello Wench Susan/Sarah!
    Love the picture of the waterfall. Where is it located?
    I agree about the names. They’ve got to be just right or the character won’t walk and talk. I haven’t had much trouble so far. My h/hs seem to walk on stage and say, “Hello, my name is…” and it’s all uphill from there.
    One of the neatest name’s I’ve ever heard was Dixon Dangerfield. Would make for a great spy novel hero, I think.
    Really looking forward to James and Elspeth’s story. (Love the name Elspeth, btw! Much better than Kirsty.)
    Nina
    P.S. Sharon, I agree with you. An over-the-top sex scene (they don’t even deserve to be called love scenes, IMHO) flattens the rest of the book. Instead of anticipating the physical intimacy, I’m left dreading it, for myself and the characters. I too have stopped reading certain authors because of it. (none include our Wenches)

    Reply
  24. Hello Wench Susan/Sarah!
    Love the picture of the waterfall. Where is it located?
    I agree about the names. They’ve got to be just right or the character won’t walk and talk. I haven’t had much trouble so far. My h/hs seem to walk on stage and say, “Hello, my name is…” and it’s all uphill from there.
    One of the neatest name’s I’ve ever heard was Dixon Dangerfield. Would make for a great spy novel hero, I think.
    Really looking forward to James and Elspeth’s story. (Love the name Elspeth, btw! Much better than Kirsty.)
    Nina
    P.S. Sharon, I agree with you. An over-the-top sex scene (they don’t even deserve to be called love scenes, IMHO) flattens the rest of the book. Instead of anticipating the physical intimacy, I’m left dreading it, for myself and the characters. I too have stopped reading certain authors because of it. (none include our Wenches)

    Reply
  25. Have you ever been in the middle of reading a story and one of the character’s name is so awkward to pronounce you adapt it?
    It might sound close to the name the author intended, but much easier to say, making the story flow better! Usually that’s what I do when I encounter names I have no idea how they’re meant to be said.
    Anybody out there? I am alone in this?

    Reply
  26. Have you ever been in the middle of reading a story and one of the character’s name is so awkward to pronounce you adapt it?
    It might sound close to the name the author intended, but much easier to say, making the story flow better! Usually that’s what I do when I encounter names I have no idea how they’re meant to be said.
    Anybody out there? I am alone in this?

    Reply
  27. Have you ever been in the middle of reading a story and one of the character’s name is so awkward to pronounce you adapt it?
    It might sound close to the name the author intended, but much easier to say, making the story flow better! Usually that’s what I do when I encounter names I have no idea how they’re meant to be said.
    Anybody out there? I am alone in this?

    Reply
  28. Have you ever been in the middle of reading a story and one of the character’s name is so awkward to pronounce you adapt it?
    It might sound close to the name the author intended, but much easier to say, making the story flow better! Usually that’s what I do when I encounter names I have no idea how they’re meant to be said.
    Anybody out there? I am alone in this?

    Reply
  29. Excellent post on naming characters, Susan/Sarah. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who’ll spend weeks hunting for names, or keep renaming characters while writing the book. Some seem to announce who they are immediately. Others play a guessing game with us. And thank you, too, for explaining how to pronounce those Celtic names. Because, yes, Jaclyne, I often do my own pronunciations. But I’m not the only one. In film adaptations, names of characters in, for instance, Dickens novels are not always pronounced the same way.

    Reply
  30. Excellent post on naming characters, Susan/Sarah. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who’ll spend weeks hunting for names, or keep renaming characters while writing the book. Some seem to announce who they are immediately. Others play a guessing game with us. And thank you, too, for explaining how to pronounce those Celtic names. Because, yes, Jaclyne, I often do my own pronunciations. But I’m not the only one. In film adaptations, names of characters in, for instance, Dickens novels are not always pronounced the same way.

    Reply
  31. Excellent post on naming characters, Susan/Sarah. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who’ll spend weeks hunting for names, or keep renaming characters while writing the book. Some seem to announce who they are immediately. Others play a guessing game with us. And thank you, too, for explaining how to pronounce those Celtic names. Because, yes, Jaclyne, I often do my own pronunciations. But I’m not the only one. In film adaptations, names of characters in, for instance, Dickens novels are not always pronounced the same way.

    Reply
  32. Excellent post on naming characters, Susan/Sarah. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who’ll spend weeks hunting for names, or keep renaming characters while writing the book. Some seem to announce who they are immediately. Others play a guessing game with us. And thank you, too, for explaining how to pronounce those Celtic names. Because, yes, Jaclyne, I often do my own pronunciations. But I’m not the only one. In film adaptations, names of characters in, for instance, Dickens novels are not always pronounced the same way.

    Reply
  33. Fun discussion!
    Kalen, that’s so neat that your brother and sister are Niall and Siobhan. The latter is a tough one to pronounce!
    Susanna, I love the name Clete Buckaloo — reminds me of Buckaroo Banzai, or something, a movie that we all saw ages ago. Only the name stuck with me….
    Piper, LOL about Brock/Brawk!
    It’s a good example of the sort of thing that authors have to consider!!
    Jaclyne, I do the same thing with shortcutting a difficult name — I read fast and a complicated name is like a stumbling block. And *I* am sometimes guilty of that as an author, simply because I don’t always have a choice with the tricky Gaelic names. I try to simplify wherever possible though.
    Nina, the waterfall was somewhere in the western Highlands — we were driving through some wonderfully wild countryside just after a heavy rain, and I snapped that one…but off the top of my head I don’t remember where. I think we were on our way toward the Torridon Mountains that day.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  34. Fun discussion!
    Kalen, that’s so neat that your brother and sister are Niall and Siobhan. The latter is a tough one to pronounce!
    Susanna, I love the name Clete Buckaloo — reminds me of Buckaroo Banzai, or something, a movie that we all saw ages ago. Only the name stuck with me….
    Piper, LOL about Brock/Brawk!
    It’s a good example of the sort of thing that authors have to consider!!
    Jaclyne, I do the same thing with shortcutting a difficult name — I read fast and a complicated name is like a stumbling block. And *I* am sometimes guilty of that as an author, simply because I don’t always have a choice with the tricky Gaelic names. I try to simplify wherever possible though.
    Nina, the waterfall was somewhere in the western Highlands — we were driving through some wonderfully wild countryside just after a heavy rain, and I snapped that one…but off the top of my head I don’t remember where. I think we were on our way toward the Torridon Mountains that day.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  35. Fun discussion!
    Kalen, that’s so neat that your brother and sister are Niall and Siobhan. The latter is a tough one to pronounce!
    Susanna, I love the name Clete Buckaloo — reminds me of Buckaroo Banzai, or something, a movie that we all saw ages ago. Only the name stuck with me….
    Piper, LOL about Brock/Brawk!
    It’s a good example of the sort of thing that authors have to consider!!
    Jaclyne, I do the same thing with shortcutting a difficult name — I read fast and a complicated name is like a stumbling block. And *I* am sometimes guilty of that as an author, simply because I don’t always have a choice with the tricky Gaelic names. I try to simplify wherever possible though.
    Nina, the waterfall was somewhere in the western Highlands — we were driving through some wonderfully wild countryside just after a heavy rain, and I snapped that one…but off the top of my head I don’t remember where. I think we were on our way toward the Torridon Mountains that day.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  36. Fun discussion!
    Kalen, that’s so neat that your brother and sister are Niall and Siobhan. The latter is a tough one to pronounce!
    Susanna, I love the name Clete Buckaloo — reminds me of Buckaroo Banzai, or something, a movie that we all saw ages ago. Only the name stuck with me….
    Piper, LOL about Brock/Brawk!
    It’s a good example of the sort of thing that authors have to consider!!
    Jaclyne, I do the same thing with shortcutting a difficult name — I read fast and a complicated name is like a stumbling block. And *I* am sometimes guilty of that as an author, simply because I don’t always have a choice with the tricky Gaelic names. I try to simplify wherever possible though.
    Nina, the waterfall was somewhere in the western Highlands — we were driving through some wonderfully wild countryside just after a heavy rain, and I snapped that one…but off the top of my head I don’t remember where. I think we were on our way toward the Torridon Mountains that day.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  37. My sibs have had an interesting time of it.
    Siobhan was taught to spell her name “Chevron”, like the gas station, in kindergarten (English was not her teacher’s first language, and “Siobhan” was just too much for the woman). My mother went through the roof. And then there was the time our grandparents tired to nickname her “Vonners”. Much screaming ensued (little bitty blond child screaming “My NAME is SIOBHAN!”).
    My brother always says: “It’s Niall, like the river in Africa.” And he hates it when he gets called Neil (says it gives him flashbacks to THE YOUNG ONES, even though at 21 he’s too young to remember that show except on DVD).

    Reply
  38. My sibs have had an interesting time of it.
    Siobhan was taught to spell her name “Chevron”, like the gas station, in kindergarten (English was not her teacher’s first language, and “Siobhan” was just too much for the woman). My mother went through the roof. And then there was the time our grandparents tired to nickname her “Vonners”. Much screaming ensued (little bitty blond child screaming “My NAME is SIOBHAN!”).
    My brother always says: “It’s Niall, like the river in Africa.” And he hates it when he gets called Neil (says it gives him flashbacks to THE YOUNG ONES, even though at 21 he’s too young to remember that show except on DVD).

    Reply
  39. My sibs have had an interesting time of it.
    Siobhan was taught to spell her name “Chevron”, like the gas station, in kindergarten (English was not her teacher’s first language, and “Siobhan” was just too much for the woman). My mother went through the roof. And then there was the time our grandparents tired to nickname her “Vonners”. Much screaming ensued (little bitty blond child screaming “My NAME is SIOBHAN!”).
    My brother always says: “It’s Niall, like the river in Africa.” And he hates it when he gets called Neil (says it gives him flashbacks to THE YOUNG ONES, even though at 21 he’s too young to remember that show except on DVD).

    Reply
  40. My sibs have had an interesting time of it.
    Siobhan was taught to spell her name “Chevron”, like the gas station, in kindergarten (English was not her teacher’s first language, and “Siobhan” was just too much for the woman). My mother went through the roof. And then there was the time our grandparents tired to nickname her “Vonners”. Much screaming ensued (little bitty blond child screaming “My NAME is SIOBHAN!”).
    My brother always says: “It’s Niall, like the river in Africa.” And he hates it when he gets called Neil (says it gives him flashbacks to THE YOUNG ONES, even though at 21 he’s too young to remember that show except on DVD).

    Reply
  41. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  42. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  43. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  44. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  45. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  46. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  47. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  48. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  49. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  50. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  51. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  52. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflex! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prilosec to safety in the Forest of Lipitor!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  53. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflax! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodeium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prillosec to safety in the Forest of Lipator!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  54. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflax! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodeium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prillosec to safety in the Forest of Lipator!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  55. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflax! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodeium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prillosec to safety in the Forest of Lipator!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  56. My daughter and I have decided we should write a sci/fi fantasy novel in which all the names are taken from pharmaceutical products. “Lord Keflax! The armies of Zantac are approaching! What shall we do?” “Summon the Immodeium Guard! Tell them to conduct Princess Prillosec to safety in the Forest of Lipator!” Gretchen, who needs to take her Prozac.

    Reply
  57. LOL, Gretchen! That’s hilarious.
    Do you mind if I tell my oldest son? He’s an M.D. resident — and a huge sci fi/fantasy fan. *g*
    Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with Typepad, it spits out duplicates sometimes.
    Kalen — “Chevron”? How awful for the poor kid! And good for her for sticking to her principles on her name, even when she was little. How does she handle it now?
    The easy equivalent is sometimes Joanne, though not near as interesting as Siobhan.
    Most people would assume that “Niall” is plain “Neil” though some Gaelic versions are two syllables, Nee-uhl. And there’s Niallghas, too, Nee-uhl-gus, which only complicates things more.
    What’s Kalen, then? Caillean, something like that?
    My youngest is Sean, and I wanted to spell it authentically, either Seathan or at least with an accent over the A, but my husband talked me out of it. So I got a calligraphic name plaque with the accent over the A, and put that in his room, so he’s seen it from an early age….
    They’re wonderful names, but try using the authentic versions for heroes and heroines, even in a Scottish-set story…often they wouldn’t get past an editor, since one thing they always consider is convenience for the reader. We can usually sneak them in for secondary and tertiary (yeah, cool word, Sherrie!) characters though.
    πŸ™‚
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  58. LOL, Gretchen! That’s hilarious.
    Do you mind if I tell my oldest son? He’s an M.D. resident — and a huge sci fi/fantasy fan. *g*
    Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with Typepad, it spits out duplicates sometimes.
    Kalen — “Chevron”? How awful for the poor kid! And good for her for sticking to her principles on her name, even when she was little. How does she handle it now?
    The easy equivalent is sometimes Joanne, though not near as interesting as Siobhan.
    Most people would assume that “Niall” is plain “Neil” though some Gaelic versions are two syllables, Nee-uhl. And there’s Niallghas, too, Nee-uhl-gus, which only complicates things more.
    What’s Kalen, then? Caillean, something like that?
    My youngest is Sean, and I wanted to spell it authentically, either Seathan or at least with an accent over the A, but my husband talked me out of it. So I got a calligraphic name plaque with the accent over the A, and put that in his room, so he’s seen it from an early age….
    They’re wonderful names, but try using the authentic versions for heroes and heroines, even in a Scottish-set story…often they wouldn’t get past an editor, since one thing they always consider is convenience for the reader. We can usually sneak them in for secondary and tertiary (yeah, cool word, Sherrie!) characters though.
    πŸ™‚
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  59. LOL, Gretchen! That’s hilarious.
    Do you mind if I tell my oldest son? He’s an M.D. resident — and a huge sci fi/fantasy fan. *g*
    Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with Typepad, it spits out duplicates sometimes.
    Kalen — “Chevron”? How awful for the poor kid! And good for her for sticking to her principles on her name, even when she was little. How does she handle it now?
    The easy equivalent is sometimes Joanne, though not near as interesting as Siobhan.
    Most people would assume that “Niall” is plain “Neil” though some Gaelic versions are two syllables, Nee-uhl. And there’s Niallghas, too, Nee-uhl-gus, which only complicates things more.
    What’s Kalen, then? Caillean, something like that?
    My youngest is Sean, and I wanted to spell it authentically, either Seathan or at least with an accent over the A, but my husband talked me out of it. So I got a calligraphic name plaque with the accent over the A, and put that in his room, so he’s seen it from an early age….
    They’re wonderful names, but try using the authentic versions for heroes and heroines, even in a Scottish-set story…often they wouldn’t get past an editor, since one thing they always consider is convenience for the reader. We can usually sneak them in for secondary and tertiary (yeah, cool word, Sherrie!) characters though.
    πŸ™‚
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  60. LOL, Gretchen! That’s hilarious.
    Do you mind if I tell my oldest son? He’s an M.D. resident — and a huge sci fi/fantasy fan. *g*
    Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with Typepad, it spits out duplicates sometimes.
    Kalen — “Chevron”? How awful for the poor kid! And good for her for sticking to her principles on her name, even when she was little. How does she handle it now?
    The easy equivalent is sometimes Joanne, though not near as interesting as Siobhan.
    Most people would assume that “Niall” is plain “Neil” though some Gaelic versions are two syllables, Nee-uhl. And there’s Niallghas, too, Nee-uhl-gus, which only complicates things more.
    What’s Kalen, then? Caillean, something like that?
    My youngest is Sean, and I wanted to spell it authentically, either Seathan or at least with an accent over the A, but my husband talked me out of it. So I got a calligraphic name plaque with the accent over the A, and put that in his room, so he’s seen it from an early age….
    They’re wonderful names, but try using the authentic versions for heroes and heroines, even in a Scottish-set story…often they wouldn’t get past an editor, since one thing they always consider is convenience for the reader. We can usually sneak them in for secondary and tertiary (yeah, cool word, Sherrie!) characters though.
    πŸ™‚
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  61. “my brother is Niall. Seeing a hero named “Niall” gives me the hebbie-jebbies.”
    I had to get over that problem a long time ago: my brother and my husband have the same first name! On the other hand, I think my brother looks quite a lot like the guy on the cover of Loretta’s Lord Perfect (he doesn’t have the dimple in his chin, but otherwise it’s pretty close). That feels really strange to me and I haven’t bought the book.

    Reply
  62. “my brother is Niall. Seeing a hero named “Niall” gives me the hebbie-jebbies.”
    I had to get over that problem a long time ago: my brother and my husband have the same first name! On the other hand, I think my brother looks quite a lot like the guy on the cover of Loretta’s Lord Perfect (he doesn’t have the dimple in his chin, but otherwise it’s pretty close). That feels really strange to me and I haven’t bought the book.

    Reply
  63. “my brother is Niall. Seeing a hero named “Niall” gives me the hebbie-jebbies.”
    I had to get over that problem a long time ago: my brother and my husband have the same first name! On the other hand, I think my brother looks quite a lot like the guy on the cover of Loretta’s Lord Perfect (he doesn’t have the dimple in his chin, but otherwise it’s pretty close). That feels really strange to me and I haven’t bought the book.

    Reply
  64. “my brother is Niall. Seeing a hero named “Niall” gives me the hebbie-jebbies.”
    I had to get over that problem a long time ago: my brother and my husband have the same first name! On the other hand, I think my brother looks quite a lot like the guy on the cover of Loretta’s Lord Perfect (he doesn’t have the dimple in his chin, but otherwise it’s pretty close). That feels really strange to me and I haven’t bought the book.

    Reply
  65. I love Celtic/Gaelic names. One thing, though…I thought Niall was supposed to be pronounced like Neal rather than Nile. I love the name Siobhan and have had no problem pronouncing it the correct way. Maybe that’s because I’ve researched Gaelic names enough to know the right way to say it!
    Great topic!

    Reply
  66. I love Celtic/Gaelic names. One thing, though…I thought Niall was supposed to be pronounced like Neal rather than Nile. I love the name Siobhan and have had no problem pronouncing it the correct way. Maybe that’s because I’ve researched Gaelic names enough to know the right way to say it!
    Great topic!

    Reply
  67. I love Celtic/Gaelic names. One thing, though…I thought Niall was supposed to be pronounced like Neal rather than Nile. I love the name Siobhan and have had no problem pronouncing it the correct way. Maybe that’s because I’ve researched Gaelic names enough to know the right way to say it!
    Great topic!

    Reply
  68. I love Celtic/Gaelic names. One thing, though…I thought Niall was supposed to be pronounced like Neal rather than Nile. I love the name Siobhan and have had no problem pronouncing it the correct way. Maybe that’s because I’ve researched Gaelic names enough to know the right way to say it!
    Great topic!

    Reply

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