Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Guest Post with Author Jeffe Kennedy of Dark Secrets: A Paranormal Noir Anthology

I’m one of those authors who puts a lot of thought into character names. It’s one of my THINGS. One of those recurring thematic elements that crop up in pretty much every story I write, regardless of genre and not even all that deliberately.

Very often my characters have multiple names – given ones and nicknames both, with both being salient. Sometimes my characters have multiple identities, with different names for each. Or they change names from the beginning of the story to the end.

I say I don’t do this deliberately – all of the changing and nick-naming, etc. – but I do give those names a lot of deliberation when I come to them. I have a whole slew of naming and name etymology sites bookmarked and nearly every name I pick for a character has some kind of symbolism that plays into both the story and their character arc.

Though Heart’s Blood is a retelling of The Goose Girl fairy tale, the only named characters in the original tales are the talking horse, Falada, and the lad who looks after the geese, Conrad. (Why those two? Who knows??? I mean, the horse is key, so I get that, but dipshit Conrad? Just bizarre what gets kept and what’s lost in these old stories.)

An interesting aside, “Falada” is not a name that turns up in any searches. The closest word is “falar” from Portuguese, which means to speak. So it could be that the name mainly referenced that she’s a horse who can speak. The Brothers Grimm version is German and Conrad is a German name, but it’s possible that the horse being called Falada is a remnant of a previous version, before the story made it to Germany.

Anyway, this meant that I needed to name my hero and heroine. Also, the waiting woman takes the heroine’s name, so I needed a second name for her. (See how this happens? I swear I don’t plan it!)

For my hero, the prince, I wanted a name that reflected his inherent nobility. He is the embodiment of Prince Charming, but unlike many of my prince-charming characters, Cavan is the real thing. He’s a good guy, through and through. Handsome, strong, caring and truly noble. He’s one of a kind and I wanted a heroic name for him that would be unusual and simple. Cavan is Gaelic and means “handsome boy.” I took that to mean in every sense of handsome.

For my heroine’s two names, I needed what her name as a princess had been and what she chooses for herself once that’s stolen from her. I ended up choosing “Natilde” for her given name. Actually, I made it up. It’s close to “Matilda,” which is a German name for powerful girl, but far enough so that she’s not that at all. As Princess Natilde, she possessed false power, and she wasn’t real. She hadn’t yet discovered who she was. When her waiting woman takes her identity, the “new” Princess Natilde is also fake, a construct.

When asked her name, my heroine chooses “Nix,” which means literally “nothing.” She picks that because she feels like she’s been reduced to nothing. In the end she keeps that name because she’s found identity in that. She’s discovered the value of the blank slate, in being the person who is empty enough to be able to receive everything.

Dark Secrets: A Paranormal Noir Anthology
by Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart, Jeffe Kennedy, Mina Khan, Suzanne Johnson 
Published September 29th 2015 by Mina Khan
Six award-winning authors bring you this spellbinding collection of stories about dark desires, mysterious worlds, and danger that lurks in the shadows of the night. Where nothing is black and white; where things might not be as they seem; where magic and mayhem rule.

MARION, MISSING by Rachel Caine 
Valentine is a detective with two major problems: he's been offered a kidnapping case that will probably get him killed, and his partner won't let him turn it down. He owes her that much … since his partner's a ghost, and he blames himself for her death. A dark, haunting noir mystery of love, hate and loss.

FEMME FATALE by Cynthia Eden
PI Mick Swayne has seen it all—his clients have included liars, thieves, and even killers. He thinks he can handle anything and anyone. Then she walks into his office. Savannah Moreau is beautiful, seductive, and…a vampire? The gorgeous vamp hires Mick to help her track down a killer who is hunting in Chicago, but as Mick slips deeper into Savannah’s paranormal world, he wonders if he can really trust his new client…

When the devil starts the music, you'd better get ready to dance.
Kathleen Murphy has sold her soul to the devil. Fame, fortune, success...everything she's ever dreamed of is hers, and all she has to do is the devil's bidding. When love comes knocking, the last thing in the world she wants to do is involve Jake in her twisted world, but the devil's started up the jukebox and Kathleen has no choice but to learn the steps

THE CONSORT by Suzanne Johnson
Faulkner Hearne, the captain of the ruthless Fae Hunters, finds his duty at odds with his heart when he’s ordered to capture the consort of Faerie’s cruel Prince of Summer when she flees across the veil into modern New Orleans. Can Faulk turn Liandra over to a certain death at the hands of the prince, or will he risk a war with Faerie in order to save her?
An all-new novella set in the Sentinels of New Orleans multiverse.

HEART’S BLOOD by Jeffe Kennedy, a Twelve Kingdoms novella
A dark fairytale retelling of a princess robbed of rank, husband and even her name.
Nix is nothing. The Princess Natilde—her former waiting woman—attacked her on the journey to wed Prince Cavan, stripping her of everything and taking her place. With no serving skills, Nix becomes a goose girl. Perhaps if Nix keeps her promise never to reveal who she really is, Natilde won’t carry out her vile threats. Prince Cavan entered his arranged marriage determined to have a congenial, if not loving relationship with his future queen—for the sake of both their kingdoms. But, his wife repels him more each day and he finds himself absurdly drawn to the lovely Nix.

THE DJINN IN THE MIRROR by Mina Khan, a Djinn World novella
A paranormal Cinderella story with a young witch as the heroine and a wicked, sexy djinn instead of a fairy godmother.
Dahlia, the step-daughter of a power hungry wizard, promises to free a djinn trapped in a mirror if he rescues her from impending death. But Ashmael the djinn has his own agenda: to trick & seduce his way to freedom. The only problem is he ends up falling for Dahlia. Can he win his freedom and save the girl? 

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. A fifth series, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, released starting with Going Under in July.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.


  1. Love this inside look at names...fascinating! Esp. about Falada, who I really have a soft spot for. :)


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