We are really proud to have Author Caroline Crane here at Book Lovers Inc today. Double Cross, book 2 in her Disillusionist Trilogy will be released tomorrow and today she is here to talk about names and how she finds the right one for her characters. Believe me you don’t want to miss this. At the end you also get a little surprise. Please give Carolyn a warm welcome.
All about names
Hi! First, I want to thank Book Lovers, Inc. so much for having me here on the eve of my release! I’m so glad to be here! Hi everybody!
Carolyn: Hi Susi! So, okay, you know I really loved and appreciated your review of Mind Games. Though, I couldn’t help noticing certain names threw you off. Specifically, Otto and Helmut as German grandpa names! LOL. Can you say a bit more about your associations with those names?
Susi: Hey Carolyn! Yes I was really surprised by those names. Here in Germany both are mostly reserved for the 50+ crowd. Helmut was BFs grandpa’s name. When I first met him he was already 82 years old and one of the nicest persons I ever met. Such a caring and loving man but also old. We also have Helmut Schmidt, at 92 the oldest living German Chancellor and Helmut Kohl also an ex Chancellor who just celebrated his 80th birthday this year. I think this name was in the top ten of most used German names in the 1920s/30s. Now it’s not even in the top 100.
Carolyn: What’s funny is that, when I was in college I had this friend who was almost named Helmut, an old family name, but instead he got a really common name, and everybody agreed it was too bad he didn’t get Helmut, because it seemed sort of radical and punk rock. It reminded me of the word helmet.
And Otto, to me, says, dark and mysterious and gothic. But, in a handsome, intriguing way. Not so much for you? Just as bad as Helmut?
For Otto it’s even worse. I live in Magdeburg which is also called Ottostadt (Otto-City). We are named after the famous Ottonian dynasty
which was from 919-1024, so a very long time ago. This time got it’s name from those three men:
* Otto I the Great, First Holy Roman Emperor and Duke of Saxony, died 973
* Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor, died 983
* Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor, died 1002
So you can see this name was spoiled for me a long time ago. But there is another fact that makes Otto un-sexy for me. The silliness that is Otto Waalkes
. He is a Germany comedian with lets say not the most stunning hair cut and he is really the impersonation of being silly. And imagine how I felt when the suggestion of your Otto being bald influenced me when I had this picture in my head.
Carolyn: OMG! That is so funny. That is terrible. That cap! You are, like, ruining Otto for ME now! So, you have trouble picturing a handsome and virile Otto? Is this interfering with the sex scenes?
Susi: Yes for me it was problematic at first to picture Otto in sex scenes but believe me Helmut would have been worse. But surprisingly that vanished while reading. At first Otto is just far away so I had no real connection to his character and my head just made him one of the many Ottos. But when he started to actively be part of the story my picture of him changed and I didn’t care so much any longer.
Carolyn: That’s good. To think I found the names Helmut and Otto darkly exotic. I think, if the book ever sells in Germany, maybe that name needs to be changed! Or even anywhere in Europe. LOL. What do you think?
Susi: I asked a few friends about this and they all said that it’s completely weird and that they can’t imagine how anyone can think about Otto and Helmut as being exotic. But it could have been worse. There are even worse names out there. But I think it’s just natural. I know that many French names I find nice are also old people’s names in France.
Thanks so much Susi!
Names and characters
This is so funny. Especially that Otto Waalkes. OMG. Anyway, it’s not that easy to name characters, because, obviously, everybody has different associations with names, because they’ve known people with names like that.
I had this old writing mentor who often pointed that out. He always said, you have to make sure the names mean something on a linguistic level, and suggested that I look at baby name websites that say what the names mean, and go at names from that perspective, instead of just who I’ve randomly met with certain names.
I actually did think about word roots with Justine. Obviously, Justine is related to the English word “justice” and to me, Justine is a character who really struggles with trying to be fair and do the right thing.
With Sterling Packard, l like it as a metaphor for Packard, who I see as tarnished on the outside, pure in the middle, and it polishes up pretty nicely. Just like some of the sterling silver jewelry I have. But,
But I didn’t follow that advice entirely. The name Simon, I will have to admit, comes from my favorite character in Somerset Maugham’s “Christmas Holiday.” I was using it as a placeholder, and it just stuck. And, Shelby is actually the brand name of my favorite pair of corduroy pants! Oh well.
Really wrong names
So I’m working on this paranormal romance series right now, and I had the villain named Moco. And my agent read it, and she was like, you can’t name him that! Moco means booger in Spanish! So I changed it (to Hyko! which, I know, is like the German name Heiko. What do I have with German names?) but thank goodness I found that out.
It reminds me of when Chevrolet came out with the Chevy Nova, and then they couldn’t understand why it sold so poorly in Mexico and South America, until they were informed that “nova” sort of means “does not go” in Spanish.
Hurricanes & trying to affect reality with names
One of the things that happens in Double Cross, and this isn’t a spoiler, but Otto becomes mayor, and makes this decree that serial killers can’t have cool names anymore. They can only have stupid names. And, the names will be picked like hurricane names, from a pre-established pool that goes in order.
I got that idea from hurricanes: there is this pre-set roster for hurricane names – you can find out if an upcoming hurricane will be named after you here [http://www.hurricane.com/hurricane-names.php]. Incidentally, there will be a hurricane Otto this year.
Anway, Otto chooses names like, Dork, Doofus, Dickweed. So then, these serial killers pop up in Midcity, and they end up being named “the Dorks.” Otto is really idealistic, and he hopes an uncool name will help them seem less cool.
I don’t know if that would really work in real life. Sometimes I think that the Beatles is a really stupid name, but the band “the Beatles” is hugely admired and influential and they have totally transcended the name, they made it mean strong good things, instead of the other way around.
What do you think?
So tell me, do you have favorite names?
Or, what names that would TOTALLY ruin a character for you?
What is the most UNSEXY or otherwise terrible name for a hero or heroine you can think of?
Thanks to Carolyn we have a wonderful giveaway. You can win your own copy of Mind Games or Double Cross- your choice.
You just have to comment with an answer to one of the above questions for a chance to win a book!
The Giveaway is open to everyone! International entries are very welcome!
Please leave us a way to contact you (Email addy in blogger profile or a twitter is fine. No contact- no win).
The contest ends on Saturday October 9th and we will announce the winner on Sunday.