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Sticks and Stones...and Choosing Names


Last month, I started writing a new book. It’s my ninth book, but if you count two half-completed novels that I’ll be returning in the not too distant future, it’s my 11th.

Nothing too strange about the process for this latest book, except for one thing: for the first time ever, I was unable to decide on a name for one of my main characters – the heroine, no less.

That’s not to say that naming characters hasn’t caused me a few thoughtful moments in the past…

Twice, for example, I ‘inherited’ heroine names, courtesy of secondary characters becoming so interesting to me in the course of a previous story, they belatedly demanded their own stories. I was therefore stuck with names I may have liked but not really deemed ‘heroine-worthy’ in the normal run of things. (I’m looking at you Chloe - that's her with the red hair in Escaping Mr Right - and Sarah!)

And I’ve run into an occasional problem while naming male secondary characters – for a while there, I seemed to be calling everyone James or Ben and had to do some lightning fast rearranging in final edits to make sure I mixed things up a bit.

But what usually happens when I sit down to write a story, is that I have a ‘meet cute’ in mind and the names zing straight into my head. How the meeting first happens on the page, what the hero and heroine say to each other, and how they act towards each other in that first scene leads me to just know they’re called X and Y.

I don’t need to have the coolest names, or the quirkiest names, or the most unusual names – they just have to ‘fit’. (And if anyone can tell me what that actually means, I’ll be all ears!)

When it comes to my heroines, I’ve had everything from a hippie-ish Sunshine to a cute Evie to a stately-sounding Catherine. For my heroes, I’ve had leader Leos and take-me-as-you-see-me Nicks and bossy Maximilians. I’ve been known to give my heroic characters names of people I detest, and villainous characters names of people I like very much – I’m equal opportunity like that; if the name fits, they get it.

But my latest heroine – boy, did she elude me!

I had the hero pegged from the first moment I envisaged the story. An average looking guy, who takes his responsibilities seriously, is a little uptight, is somewhat noble, and has an innate sense of superiority that he doesn’t think he shows…like a modern day version of Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester. Bingo!

But that pesky heroine. She’s a girl on a mission and nothing’s going to stop her. She’s infuriated by something that hamstrung her as a teenage and determined to reset the parameters. She’s totally modern, in control, theatrical, undaunted and probably the most outrageous girl I’ve ever written.

Three names I chose, one after the other.

Three names I quickly discarded.

I could not find the perfect name, despite devouring name books and haunting the internet. I even had the natty idea of producing ‘name’ books for a recent baby shower I threw, in which guests could record name suggestions (ostensibly for the baby, but…)

Name the baby... (And okay, let's all agree my graphic design skills are not of a high order, but at least the pages inside are pink and blue!)

It got to the point where I could not write – I needed to know her name!

So what did I do?

I turned to a group of readers – my Wattpad followers, who have never let me down in terms of feedback. And I’m delighted to say that with a brief description of my heroine, they came to the party with suggestions that were all more brilliant than any I had come up with myself – and I even got the perfect ‘endearment’ for her while I was at it.

And so Tegan Jones, (AKA Honey), was born. And now, thank goodness, I can write the damn book!

But now that I am a name expert, I'm sharing the hot new names for 2016 for anyone on the hunt for one. Just click HERE.

I never thought I would go hippie with a name, but that's what I did with Sunshine Smart (sister of Moonbeam, if you can believe it) in Here Comes The Bridesmaid - and she is still my favourite heroine. I got a little bonus with this book when the Australian cover turned out to be a wonderful likeness of her!

Can she make organising her friend’s wedding any harder?

1. Sunshine Smart has only got two months until the big day!

2. She has to include the grouchy, surly Best Man, Leo Quartermaine – a top chef and her complete opposite!

3. Said Best Man is extremely handsome & sexy – and knows it!

4. He has no interest in décor, flowers, clothes or shoes…but has an uninformed opinion on all four!

5. And in just a few days in, she’s already slept with him…Rookie mistake…



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