Today I am excited to welcome one of my favorite romantic suspense authors, Julie Ann Walker, joining us with her new release is the must-read Black Knights Inc. series, Thrill Ride!
AKA: The Winding, Twisting Road to Naming Characters
Hey, hey, all you romance junkies out there! Julie Ann Walker here, pleased as punch to be back on Reading Between the Wines and talking to you about character names. How I come up with them. Who loves them. Who hates them. And all the wonderful shades of grey (Can I still use that phrase without conjuring up images of another writer? LOL!) in between…
Now, for those of you who don't know me, I write the bestselling romantic suspense series, Black Knights Inc. It follows a group of ex-government and ex-military men who run a super-secret defense firm operating under the guise of a custom motorcycle shop. Sounds fun, right? Well, it is! And part of that fun is getting to name the characters, particularly since ex-military and ex-government types usually have some pretty inventive nicknames.
So, let's start at the beginning shall we, and make our way - at least partially - through the list…
First, there's Nate "Ghost" Weller from HELL ON WHEELS. I chose his first name because my niece was pregnant with her first child, a boy, and she was going to christen him Nathan. Plus, I'd always loved the shortened version of "Nate." As for the nickname, I simply sat down and thought about the characteristics of a hardcore Marine Scout sniper. Stealthy, solitary, and downright chilling. I mean, no one fancies the thought of being lined up in a sniper's crosshairs, right? So, how could I describe this man? As a Ghost. Voila! Nate "Ghost" Weller was born… and so was my great-nephew, by the way. Happy, healthy, and ornery from day one. ;-)
Next came Frank "Boss" Knight from IN RIDES TROUBLE. Much to my family's chagrin, I got the name Frank Knight from my eldest sister's boyfriend. Her, ehem, now ex-boyfriend. In my defense, I didn't name my character after the man himself. It was as simple as this… I thought the handle was cool. Frank Knight sounds like a guy who is big and tough. A guy who can easily take any and all comers. And that fit the attributes of my character. And the nickname? Well, that's easy. He is the boss. He's the leader. Enough said…
Then there was Jake "The Snake" Somers in REV IT UP. I chose his last name simply because my husband and I are great friends with a couple who have that last name. It was a nod to my fondness for them. And then I looked for a first name that would encapsulate, if you will, the plight of the hero. Jacob means "to follow," or "to come from behind." And since Jake was coming back into the heroine's life following great tragedy, and he was definitely coming from behind - way, way behind - in order to try to win her over, I thought the name was perfect. Now, how about that nickname, huh? Well, that explanation is a bit, uh, risqué. So, you'll have to read the book to find out its origin. *wink, wink*(unabashed plug for readership)
And, finally, we arrive at the hero in THRILL RIDE, Richard "Rock" Babineaux. He's a ragin' Cajun, so coming up with his last name was as simple as doing a Google search for Cajun surnames. (Boring, I know, but not every name can have a cool story. Some names come about from the tried and true method of throwing-a -dart-at-a-board.) Then, it was time to give him a first name. Considering his last name was ethnic, I wanted his first name to be something simple. Now, his character is strong, capable, loyal, honorable, and, above all else, lionhearted. So, what better moniker than the one given to the great man himself, Richard the Lionheart!As for the nickname? It was simple. Everyone in Black Knights Inc. depends on him. Everyone leans on him. Everyone relies on his support. He's their rock!
So, there you have it. A peek behind the curtain at the evolution of my characters' names. Some are fun and some are functional, but they all, hopefully, help bring the books to life.
Thanks to Reading Between the Wines for having me on today. It's been wonderful, as always! Cheers!
Sourcebooks is giving away 1 copy of Rev It Up (Book 3 in the Black Knights Inc. Series, and where readers first meet Rock and Vanessa, hero and heroine of Thrill Ride) to 1 reader, US and Canada only. To enter, just leave a comment on this post: What are some of your favorite character names and why? And then fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck!