NANP: Just Another Name
Posted by Abhinav Jain
Today’s guest on Names: A New Perspective is Gini Koch, author of Alexander Outland: Space Pirate and the Alien series among others. I’ve had a copy of the former for almost a year now, which I’ve been meaning to read all this time but which keeps slipping through the net. The cover reminds me of a good old space opera romp, which is why I got it in the first place. Something to be corrected for the future. Her Alien series is also something I’ve been looking at for a while now and the recent release of a new installment has convinced me to get the first two novels. Have to say, I love the covers! They have a really strong No One Lives Forever vibe to them and since I loved that video game… yeah. In the meantime, while I go around trying to fit in Gini’s books on my reading list, here’s what she has to say on the topic of names.
by Gini Koch
The heroine of my Alien series is named Katherine “Kitty” Katt. Yeah, I went there. But I went there because that’s what the character told me her name was. (Yes, I talk to my characters. Because I’m a writer, that’s why.)
Many readers have remarked that it’s ironic that the hero of my Alien series, Jeff Martini, is an alien whose entire race is deathly allergic to alcohol. My reply is that I’m funny even when I’m not trying to be, because Jeff told me his name, and other characters explained their aversion to alcohol as the first book in the series — Touched by an Alien — went along, and, as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t make this joke consciously.
Kitty and Jeff told me their names, while I was writing their story. But Alexander Napoleon Outland, the hero of Alexander Outland: Space Pirate, didn’t tell me his name — I stumbled upon it way back when and felt it would be an amazing name for a space pirate. So the name created the character which created the story. Though he did tell me what his nickname was and why I should use it.
And Victoria Wolfe, the heroine of my Necropolis Enforcement Files series, didn’t tell me her name — I chose it, based on what she told me about herself. (It’s a party in my mind, 24/7.)
Ergo, I’m about fifty-fifty on the naming thing. In some cases, like Nap’s, I create the characters’ names consciously. But in the other cases, like Kitty’s, I don’t, and the characters tell me their names as I’m writing. And in other cases, like Victoria’s, it’s a combo. (Okay, so maybe I’m 33/33/33 on the naming thing.) One way isn’t necessarily better than the others. As with everything I do, “whatever works” is my motto.
I do have an odd affinity for some names — names, I must add, that I would never have told anyone were particular favorites. Names that crop up again and again, to the point that when the name or its derivative shows up, I have to stop writing, cut the name, and find a new name that still works. (For example, I adore the name Charles, apparently. Because it’s in at least five different novels/series I’ve written. This is not a name I’d have said I was going to be so in love with that I couldn’t bear to write a book without its inclusion, mind you. But it’s in there, constantly. Maybe I’m attracted to it because it has so many different nicknames. Same with the name Peter and all its various options. But I digress…or not…this IS about names, after all.)
When it’s a name I’ve created, I’ve put a lot of thought into it. Or not. Because sometimes a name is just a thing to call a character who will not be back beyond their one scene. Only, I have a tendency to bring characters back, if I liked them a lot in their one scene. And some of that is because of the name I gave them. So, even when I try not to, I end up putting thought into a created name.
Clearly I’m all over the place on this topic. But I’m a linear writer who writes best in chaos, so maybe my not having any one naming convention, or even the shreds of a naming system, makes sense. Because, well, you never know what’s going to work until you try it on for size.
However, I do have one bit of naming advice — if the character’s going to be on the page a lot, a shorter name is faster and easier to type. And I wish someone had mentioned this to me before I populated my Alien series with Christopher, and Lorraine, and Mister Joel Oliver (who demands the full Monty every time), and so on. Jeff and Kitty are a lot faster to type, and when you’re on deadline, which, happily, these days I always am, it’s the little names you treasure.
The next author on the blog will be E. J. Swift, and her post will go up this coming Monday, on the 10th. You can check out the full schedule in the link up top.
Posted on June 5, 2013, in Debut Authors Guest Series, Guest Posts and tagged Alexander Outland: Space Pirate, Aliens, DAW Books, Debut Authors Guest Series, Fantasy, Gini Koch, Guest Posts, Musa Publishing, Names, Names A New Perspective, Night Shade Books, Space Opera, The meaning of Names. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.