Creating character names is one of my favorite processes in writing a novel. Sometimes the name is the product of my imagination and sometimes I borrow from friends and family to create a unique name for a character. Peril in Paradise is sprinkled with names that represent some of my favorite people. In addition to gleaning interesting names from people in my life, I also weave some of their in unique traits to help bring my characters alive.
Sometimes a name is chosen from a special encounter. For instance, my husband and I had the privilege of vacationing in Nuevo Vallarta last October (yes, during the pandemic we chased a little Joy) where I met the lovely Joy Nicholson at our fabulous resort, Vidanta. Life has thrown me some devasting blows over the past few years and I’ve worked hard to find my “Joy” again. So when we met Joy over drinks, it was no surprise she and I had an instant connection. Of course it helped that she asked me about Peril in Paradise and my writing in general. I can talk about writing endlessly over a glass of wine or a tangy margarita. Joy is now a character in my future novel, Vanished in Vallarta and I can’t wait to see how her character handles the disappearance of Esmerelda, a young model Joy is mentoring.
My current WIP, Malice in Mazatlan, features Jessica Sanchez, Editor for the Gringo Gazette. Jessica is based on my personal favorite story editor, Jeanne Silaski. In Malice in Mazatlan, Jessica is chasing a story about a serial killer who poisons Mazatlan tourists. The story is brought to Jessica by Maltese Finn, (my friend Joanne Wiitala) who’s followed reports of suspicious deaths from one Mexican resort town to the next. I can’t wait to see how the story they’re following ends. Do they help the policía find the serial killer … or do they find themselves on the maniac’s radar?
More recently, I met someone with an equally interesting name as mine. Katelyn, my new hygienist asked me questions about my writing as she brought a sheen back to my pearly whites. I responded to her questions with hand gestures and gurgles. By the end of our session, she had a Peril in Paradise bookmark in hand, my new website jotted on a scrap of paper, and plans to purchase my novel. She asked me about my unusual name and then told me hers … Katelyn, coincidently my heroine’s name in Malice in Mazatlan. The spelling of my Kaitlyn isn’t particularly unique, but now with Katelyn’s permission, my heroine’s name just got a makeover. I hope to have Katelyn Graham and the rest of the crew published by fall 2021.
As I said, I love writing and creating character names from wherever they might find me!
One thought on “What’s In A Name?”
Hi, Kimila. I share your fascination with names, and those of my children and grandchildren often find their way into my stories. And of course, it looks as though you enjoy “naming” your books—the titles are such fun! I like experimenting with names, their rhythm and sound. I’m currently writing a story that includes two low-level, beanie-wearing drug dealers named Blister and Peck, and those names seem to fit them perfectly. “Chiara,” the name of a wine server in Sonoma, became a regular character in my mystery series. Yes—names are one of the small pleasures of writing!