Well, it’s that time of month again… When I gather on a Wednesday with some of my writing friends & we all answer the same question. This month we are answering the question, “What is your favorite character name?”
I’ll start with some background. As Historical Romance Authors think about creating names and titles, there are three major pitfalls to be avoided. The first? Coming up with a title that sounds real but is not actually extant. To do this, I consult maps of England and look for names of small towns that sound appealing, pair them with a rank and then google it to make sure it’s not actually a real title (wouldn’t want to offend a Earl!). Next, there is the problem of whether or not a first name existed in the time period. For example, my own name, Wendy, is said to have been created by EM Barrie for Peter Pan, and doesn’t appear on birth records during the period I write (although I do have a 18th century Dutch ancestor whose name was Wyntie, but I digress). Finally, when using a carefully-chosen, period-appropriate name, a historical romance writer has to stay aware the use of given names was VERY restricted, and so, at the start of every book, the hero and heroine are unlikely to be on a first-name basis. Take, as an example, Jane Austen. In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth’s parents refer to one another as “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Bennett” and in Emma, at the triumphant, love-confession moment, Emma declares “I need not call you Mr. Knightly, I can call you my Mr. Knightly.”
I tried to keep all of this in mind while writing my Furies series. In the first, Lady Vice, the hero and heroine loved one another in their youth, and when the hero uses the heroine’s given name when speaking to a friend, he practically announces he intends to resume intimacies. In the second, Lady Scandal, the hero and heroine hide out on a Quaker farm, and the owner’s insistence that only first names be used (a Quaker custom) is part of what breaks down the hero’s shell. In the final book, Duchess Decadence, to be released next Monday, names come into play in several ways. The heroine’s close female friends refer to her as Thea. The hero only thinks of her as Thea Marie…until the walls of formality are broken. His first name reveals her growth, too. Throughout the book, the duchess struggles to recall the duke’s first name and is, at the same time annoyed when he uses the oath St. Swithin. When she finally remembers that Swithin is his name–a small joke on the part of his parents, since St. Swithin is the patron saint of Winchester (spelled differently)– she absolutely forbids him from disparaging himself ever again. None of this was planned, by the way. I didn’t even know Swithin was the patron saint of Winchester until I was 1/2 way through the book!
But I haven’t answered the question, have I? My favorite character name is Swithin Worthington, the Duke of Wynchester’s nickname, Wyn.
The hero of Duchess Decadence‘s title is the Duke of Wynchester, and his estranged Duchess is the only one who has ever dared call him Wyn—which had always gotten under his skin (her intent). You see, they married young as the result of an arranged marriage, and she could find no other way to pierce his cold exterior. But time and tragedy have changed them both, and, as they rediscover one another, hearing her say his nickname becomes less irritation and more endearment.
If you want to read more about Duchess Decadence, you can do so here. And if you want to hear about character names from my fellow authors, you can find their posts here:
Contemporary Romance Writer Lauren Christopher | Paranormal romance writer Kay Hudson | Romantic suspense writer Sharon Wray | Historical romance writer Wendy LaCapra | Novels with romantic elements Natalie Meg Evans