Thursday, June 30, 2011

Writing Romance: Dianne Duvall (Guest Post & Giveaway)

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?

Dianne Duvall

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. 


  1. I like the sound of the book,,and great interview..and to answer your question much space, do we have in the comment section? lollol there are sooo many,,,,
    How about just give you the top My #1 hero and #1 heroin...
    my #1 Bones,,from the Night Huntress Series,,his loyalty is astonishing,,even with his not so cheery allies,,and his love and passion for Cat..well very very believable..
    my #1 heroine,, Rose Hathaway,,from the Vampire Academy Series,,(I know it is YA but it still is an excellent series,,and Rose well her determination for the man she loves and her best friend,talk about going above and beyond...

    Thanks for the opportunity, to win a great sounding book..
    wish me luck
    Jennifer B.

  2. My fave hero name is Dante (for a supernatural hero) or John for a contemporary one.
    For the heroine I love musical sounding name, like Gabrielle, Juliet, or Elena.
    faefever25 at hotmail dot com

  3. A favourite hero name is Barrons, Cole, Barrington. For a heroine, the name Tatiana, Alaina.

    Something uncommon, memorable and easy to read-/say, especially if the name will keep coming up in the book.

  4. Thank you very much i enjoyed reading today!!!

  5. :) What an awesome process. I love when a character name feels like this much effort went into its choosing. I mean, when we name our kids isn't that what we do?

    I tend to gravitate toward unusual names and I think it stems from growing up with one that was pretty uncommon at the time.

    I like a lot of the ones from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark/Dream Hunters like Vane and Arik. They're not romances but I love the main character in Seanan McGuirre's October Daye series. That name just has a great ring to it. :)

  6. Jennifer_After_Dark: Rose Hathaway is a great name. I haven't read the Vampire Academy Series, but have heard only good things about it. Rose sounds like a good, strong heroine. Good luck with the contest! :-)

    parakiss25: Dante and Gabrielle are favorites of mine, too. And there's a vampire named John in Night Reigns. Thanks for joining us!

    Na: I've always liked Tatiana, but don't think I've encountered a heroine by that name. And I admit I always try to use names that are easy to pronounce in my books because years ago I read a romance that featured a heroine with a peculiar name I had no idea how to say. I don't know if it was a sci-fi romance or historical or what sub-genre. All I can remember about it is that the name distracted me throughout the entire book. I kept hoping a secondary character would ask her how to pronounce it. :-)

    LorettaLynn: Thanks for joining us!

    Rhianna: Rhianna is a lovely name. I don't recall ever encountering it in a book before and hope you won't mind if I someday bestow it upon one of my characters. :-). And I love what you said about putting as much thought into naming characters as we do naming our kids!

  7. I adore the name Sebastian. It has always been one of my all-time favorite hero names! :-)

  8. I absolutely loved this book and I can't wait for the next one to come out. It was just so good.

    As for my favorite names in heroes, I tend to like more older sounding names. Tristan, Sebastian, Declan, Ian, Nicholas and Devlin.

  9. I love Edward and Carlisle from Twilight and Sam from Shiver. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book. sounds very good.

  10. This book sounds very good. I cant wait to read it! Thanks for sharing and the giveaway. One name i have always loved is Nicholas. Its always been my favorite. I also like Sebastian, Emma, Tristan and Lillian. I like a lot of names. :)

  11. Some of my favorite names include Acheron, Drake, Dominic.

    Females, Toni, Bride, Tori

    I like so much more but can't think right offhand.

  12. I loved the name Kadan (Kaden) from Christine Feehan's Murder Game so much that I named my son that. My top girl name choice (Ashlyn) is from Gena Showalter's Darkest Night.

    Thanks for the contest.

  13. Chelsea B.: Yay! There's a Sebastien (slightly different spelling) in Darkness Dawns. He also goes by Bastien. I like both. :-)

    Danielle Gorman: Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I love the name Sebastien. Nicholas, too. I'm pretty sure the latter will turn up in future books in my series.:-)

    Tore: Thanks, Tore! I hope you enjoy it! And Carlisle is a great name. I'll have to look up its origins.

    shadow_kohler: Thanks! I hope you enjoy it! There's a character named Sebastien in Darkness Dawns. And I just mentioned above in response to Danielle that I like Nicholas so much I'll probably use it in the future, too. :-)

    BLHmistress: Ooh. I love the name Dominic. I'm going to have to write that one down, look up its origins and see if I can't use it in later books. Great to "see" you! Thanks for joining us!

    ~Danni: Gena Showalter is one of my favorite authors. Christine Feehan, too. I thought Ashlyn was a lovely name when I read Darkest Night. :-)

  14. I tend to like the odd and unusual names. I have been liking the celtic looking names.

    Oh I have to say I love seeing my baby son's names in books (Gabriel).

    Keely I love that name

  15. Some of the names I've liked are Mira and Tristan from Darkest Days series by Jocelynn Drake.
    Rose Hathaway-vampire Academy.
    Elena,Gabriel,Keenan....I could go on and on.

  16. Raonaid Luckwell: Gabriel is one of my favorite male names and Gabrielle a favorite female name. :-) I never use names of family members in my books, though, because whenever I use them I think of the family members instead of the characters. :-)

  17. Gabrielle, Tristan and Lucian are some of my favorite names. I think they have a certain regalness to them always make a hero seem important.

    For women, I think my all time favorite name is Shanna. I also like Rhiannon and Alexia. Strong yet with an underlying femininity.

  18. I like strong masculine names for the hero: Thomas, Charles, Edward etc. Classic, timeless names.

    For the heroine I like names that are beautiful & fit the character: again I like classic names, Rose, Eleanor, Elizabeth, Katherine.


  19. When I read the question i realized that while I hv several hero names I particularly like, i'm quite impartial when it comes to the heroine's name. Most odd!
    For the hero: Damien, Lucien, Tristan, Justin.
    Heroines: no particular favs but I can say that there are some i particularly dislike: Harriet, Mabel, Maude

  20. for the hero ; cool names shay , skye
    for the heroine emma, jenna lily

  21. I guess the name sticks with the reader more if it is nice-sounding or unusual, etc., but I like names for the characters behind the name rather than the just the name itself... that is why I like Curran (Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews) and Harry Dresden (by Jim Butcher) because their characters are well developed by a skillful hand :)

    Thank you for the chance to win! :)

    Cherry Mischievous
    cherrymischif-soldier [at] yahoo [dot] com

  22. My favorites are actually from Doris Egan's Ivory Trilogy - Theodora and Ran!

    danaan at gmx dot at

  23. There are so many and some times it hard to keep track of them all...
    I love to read and ther are so many good ones,That i just love

  24. Some of my favorite names are Rhage, Bones, Lucan, Dante, Lyon. I love when names are a play on another word.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  25. I love nicknames. A lot. And the unique names no one else has. My favorites are Finn, Lexi, and Bones! I also love the "en"s like Kaden and Aiden. But I'm ok with most names as long as it's easy to pronounce and isn't mine (just weird picturing me in the book).

    That is a great excerpt. Loved it! Roland is a very hot name!
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    Lindadao2060 at yahoo dot com

  26. I really don't know about a favorite hero name, except for maybe Harry Dresden, but he is not exactly steamy. I love the werewolf named Kitty - that has got to be the best name ever. Of course these two are not a couple, but just imagine the possibilities if they showed up in a virtual world together :) what fun!
    Thank you for the interview and the wonderful giveaway opportunity.

  27. Okay, I'm really bad at thinking of names. Romance hero wise, I definitely have a soft spot for Dimiti, and I like unusual names (as long as I can figure out how to pronounce them). Bones is cool, but before I read the first book it always made me think of the TV show and David Boreanaz. Female names I like are Nadia, Seline and Yelena.


  28. I tend to like old-fashioned names...the ones that you don't often hear any more!

    I'd love to be entered in the draw. I'm following on GFC (Darlene), and my email address is darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  29. Well I like Mercedes. It is strong and memarable. And for short it is Mercy which is cute)))

  30. Barrons, Bones, Cat, Kate, Annwyl, Adam..
    So many but it really has more to do with their stories and what they make me feel and admire/hate about them.
    Your book sounds great, thanks for a chance to win!


  31. Zadist it is just different, I also like Dante

  32. I love these names for hero's - Zarak, Callan, Dash, Braden and Aiden ladies names - Raven, Scheme, and Sherra.

    sstrode at scrtc dot com

  33. I love all the names from Karen Marie Moning's "Fever" series. My favorites are the hero Jerrico Barrons & the heroine MacKayla. Very fitting names for the strong characters they portray.

    Fun question Dianne! Thanks :)

  34. I love all the Black Dagger Brotherhood names. Szadist, Tohr, Wraith etc.
    Also like Hawk and the book I am currently reading the guy is called Kick.

  35. I like the names Declan, Ian, Hawke, Wolf, Raven and Tristan for heroes.
    I like the names Mariah, Samantha, and Summer for heroines.

  36. thanks for the giveaway!!
    some of my favourite character names are strider and kaia and maddox and ashlyn.they are unique and i love them!

    GFC-Janhvi Jagtap
    justjanhvi at gmail dot com

  37. Do I really have to pick a favorite? To many great names, so here are a couple of my favorites
    Drake, Aiden, Gabriel & Lucian.
    For girls it's harder, Emma, Elizebeth, Natasha.

  38. Sherri: Gabrielle and Tristan have proven to be popular and are amongst my favorites, too. I’ve never heard the name Alexia before, but really like it. :-)

    marybelle: I love the name Elizabeth in all of its incarnations. All of the nicknames. All of it. :-)

Linda: Tristan is a real favorite among readers. I like it, too. I have a musical background and it always reminds me of the opera Tristan und Isolde. I like Justin, too, and used it for the name of the heroine’s brother in a time travel I wrote (not yet published).

    roro: Emma seems to be quite popular among romance readers. :-) I like the name Shane, too.

    Cherry: I haven’t read either of the series you mentioned, but am intrigued by the names and your description. I’ll have to add them to my TBR list. :-)

    Birgit: I’m not familiar with the series, but think the names are unique. I’ll have to look it up. :-)

  39. Temperance: I know. I’ve probably read close to two thousand romance novels and am surprised at how rarely I’ve encountered the same names twice.

    Megan: I’ve always liked the name Dante. :-) Thanks for joining us!

    Linda: By the Book: Don’t believe I’ve encountered the names Finn before in a book. I like it. And I’ve always liked Aiden. I’m glad you liked the excerpt! And Roland’s name. ;-)

    Denise Z: What a great name for a werewolf! :-D Thanks for joining us and for entering the contest!

    JessS: I’ve always thought both Dimitri and Nadia were lovely names. Don’t be surprised if either or both show up in my series. :-)

    Darlene: That’s one of the cool things about paranormals: Some of the characters have been around long enough to have been given the old-fashioned names back when the names were “new.” Thanks for entering the contest!

  40. Sofija Kapranova : Mercy IS cute. Thanks for joining me!

    Lexi: I used the name Cat in Darkness Dawns. I’ve just always liked it. Thanks for entering the contest!

    Keisha: Dante is a popular one among the commenters and a favorite of mine, too. :-)

    Sherry: Braden. Braden. Why does that sound familiar to me? I can't recall where I've encountered it, but like it. And Raven is a great name for a heroine. Both pretty and unique.

    redzsm: I LOVED Karen Marie Moning’s “Highlander” series, but haven’t had a chance to read her “Fever” series, yet, though I think I’ve bought all of the books in it. MacKayla is a lovely name. Thanks for joining us! 

    Jodie Riverina Romantics: I only recently began reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and like names I've encountered in it, too. I’ve never encountered the name Kick before, but like Hawk for a hero’s name. :-)

  41. mbreakfield: Tirstan is REALLY a well-liked name. :-) I’ve always liked Ian and Wolf for heroes, too. I haven’t encountered Declan, but like it. It has a nice smooth sound to it. :-)

    janhvi: Hmm. I sense you’re a fellow Gena Showalter fan. :-) I love the name Ashlyn. I think it’s so pretty. And there’s something about the name Strider that just says, “strength.” Thanks for entering the contest!

    Candy G: I love the name Gabriel. I even like the nickname Gabe. The same is true for Elizabeth and Beth. :-)

  42. I love names like Roarke, Ian, Tristen,Dante,Bastian and Lucian.
    For Heroines, Isabella, Fiona,Rachel,Emily and Juliette and Lisette.
    I have Darkness Dawns on my TRL. GFC follower under Lucky47.
    Carol L.
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  43. I don't really have any favorite names...but some of the names authors come up with are insane. I mean if I have no clue how to pronounce it or they have to list it in the glossary it is just to difficult for a name.

    Great post!

  44. I don't think I have any particular favourite names for heroes or heroines... I honestly am fine with all kinds of names as long as they're not too hard to pronounce. But I am certain that I do appreciate the effort authors go through to give meaningful names to their characters though!



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