Today I am very happy to have a wonderfully talented author joining our Writing Romance event, Dianne Duvall! Her debut novel, Darkness Dawns, was released this February and the second novel in her Immortal Guardians series, Night Reigns, will be released December 6th, 2011. You can read my review of Darkness Dawns *here!* Make sure to also visit author Amanda E Alvarez at Secrets of a Book Lover today!
What’s in a Name?
The question was famously posed by Juliet in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Such is true, of course. But in fiction, choosing the wrong name for one’s characters can detract from the story and possibly repel readers.
When I sat down to write Darkness Dawns, the first book in my Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series, I put a lot of thought into choosing not just the hero and heroine’s names, but that of every character in the book. For the heroine, I chose Dr. Sarah Bingham, Music Theory Professor. Why Sarah? I wanted a name that was both pretty and common. She’s mortal. She’s from the suburbs. She didn’t have a perfect family life growing up, but it was a relatively sheltered one. She certainly never fought vampires or came to the rescue of injured immortals prior to meeting the hero. Rather she worked hard to put herself through college, dealt with the same stresses many others do at the job and otherwise led a quiet life. Sarah seemed the perfect name for her.
For the hero, I chose Roland Warbrook. Did I think Roland sounded like a good immortal name? To be honest, I didn’t even consider that. Roland is nearly a thousand years old. So I researched what names were common in England (his country of origin) around the time of his birth. Of the substantial list I accumulated, the name Roland immediately leapt out at me. Roland is a name that has long been associated with strength in literature. In La Chanson de Roland (Song of Roland), Roland is a courageous knight and Charlemagne’s nephew. In Robert Browning’s Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, Roland is a not-yet-knighted young man on a valiant quest for the “Dark Tower.” And in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, Roland Deschain of Gilead is a strong, quiet, enigmatic warrior with a disposition not unlike that of my hero. I knew instantly that this was the perfect name for him. And I haven’t been able to think of Roland as anything else since.
I did the same research with the other immortals that people Darkness Dawns. There are three French immortal siblings in my series: Lisette d’Alençon and her twin brothers Étienne and Richart. They are a mere two centuries old, give or take a decade. I actually chose their names after viewing the passenger lists of several ships that embarked from France around the time of their births.
While my immortals come from a wide variety of eras, the vampires do not. The vampires in my series are humans who have been infected with a rare symbiotic virus that lends them enhanced speed, strength and regenerative abilities coupled with photosensitivity and a need for blood. Sadly, my vampires do not choose to succumb to bloodlust or become evil. Their descent into villainy is involuntary and unavoidable, a result of brain damage caused by the virus. So even the kindest of men infected with it will become monsters. Immortals in my series are infected with the same virus. They, however, weren’t humans when they were transformed. They were something more. And their advanced DNA protects them from the corrosive aspects of the virus so they don’t suffer the same fate as the vampires.
Because of the madness that afflicts them, the vampires in my series live no longer than the average human. I therefore wanted them to have names readers may have heard around the neighborhood or at school while growing up, at work, etcetera. Some of the vampires’ names in Darkness Dawns include Cliff, Joe, Vincent and Casey. My all-time favorite vampire name, however, I bestowed upon a vampire in Night Reigns: Eddie Kapansky. I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Eddie.
Since we’re talking names, I thought I would include an excerpt from Darkness Dawns that features Roland and Sarah’s introduction. It’s a rather turbulent one. :-) A longer excerpt is available on my website.
Roland’s ankles (and most of the rest of him) screamed in protest as he dragged himself upright. As soon as he was standing, the woman shifted to his side and carefully drew one of his arms across her narrow shoulders. The top of her cap barely reached his chin.
“Can you walk?”
He nodded wearily and let her steer him toward the trees.
The cool shade there provided welcome relief from the burning that was already lashing his skin. Despite their hurry, his petite rescuer took great pains to protect him, holding back branches that would have otherwise brushed his wounds or jostled the spikes in his hands. She even warned him of sharp twigs and other hazards on the ground that might harm his bare feet.
When they reached the edge of the trees and he saw the bright, empty meadow ahead of them, Roland swore.
The woman bit her lower lip and cast him an apologetic look. “I live on the other side of those trees. Should we take the long way around and stay in the shade or can you make it across the clearing?”
Damn it. He needed to get to shelter before he fell flat on his face. “Cross the clearing.”
She didn’t hesitate or second guess him. She merely propelled him forward, righting him when he stumbled and hastening him until they were practically jogging.
“Is it me or are you already turning pink?” she asked.
“It isn’t you.” A few more seconds and blisters would begin to form.
They made it to the trees, where she again warded off combatant branches. When they reached the other side of the cluster of foliage, Roland was grateful to see a small frame house preceded by a deck and a densely shaded backyard.
He would be shielded from the sun all the way to the back door.
“Just a little farther,” she said breathlessly, the arm she had looped around his waist giving him a faint squeeze of encouragement he found oddly endearing.
Across the grass. Up the steps. A brief pause on the deck while she retrieved her keys from her shirt pocket and unlocked the door. Then the two of them were squeezed inside a very narrow laundry room with the door closed and secured behind them.
Both emitted simultaneous sighs of relief.
“What’s your name?” he heard himself ask.
“Sarah Bingham. Yours?”
“Roland Warbrook. Thank you for saving my life, Sarah.”
* * *
Thank you for joining me here at Reading Between the Wines! And thank you, Crystal, for inviting me to participate! I’m giving away a signed copy of Darkness Dawns to one commenter. So, tell me: What are some of your favorite romance hero and/or heroine names?
As Dianne mentioned in her post, she is giving away one signed copy of her absolutely fabulous novel, Darkness Dawns!
To enter, just leave a comment answering her question above AND fill out the form below.
Giveaway will end at 11:59pm on July 8th, one winner will then be selected at random and contact via email. Open Internationally.