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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Maria V. Snyder on "The Trouble with Names"

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INTRODUCTION: To celebrate the publishing of Touch of Power, the first novel in her new Healer series, Maria V. Snyder is participating in a blog tour and she was kind enough to include us and offer a very interesting post on how to name characters.

While the official publication date is in January, the novel is available on Amazon now. I have read it a while ago and enjoyed it quite a lot, while I have a review tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday, December 27. In the meantime you can head to Goodreads for a quick summary of my thoughts. I have also reviewed two of her Glass novels on Fantasy Book Critic and talked a little about her superb debut Study series that attracted my attention to this talented author.

Ms. Snyder is running a BLOG TOUR GRAND PRIZE contest on her website HERE. If you want to participate read the instruction carefully and note the geographical restrictions in some situations.


I normally don't have trouble picking out names for my characters. Before I start a novel, I look through my baby names books and chose names. I chose names based on their meanings and also by what I like the sound of. I put the most time and effort into choosing the main character's names. Then I pick a girl and boy name for each letter of the alphabet (except the main protag's letter) so I end up with fifty names. Easy right?

Not for TOUCH OF POWER. I originally picked Lexa as my main female protagonist. Her name means defender of men. I wrote about a quarter of the book using Lexa, but the name didn't sit well with me. She sounded too modern. I really liked Ava, which means life, but couldn’t use it because I used that name in my short story, SWORD POINT. I really liked the name Avery, but it’s a boy's name. However, I know people have been disregarding the gender thing, so I thought if I spelled her name Avry it would look more girly :)

I also worried about Kerrick. Having used the name Kade in the Glass books, I thought they might be too close, but decided to keep it because Kerrick means, chief hero/king’s rule, and it suited him perfectly. Other perfect names that I found were Prince Ryne (little king), and Tohon (cougar).

Then there's Kerrick's men. Belen (arrow), Quain (clever), Javin (son of Japheth – biblical), and Flea (a nickname of one of my son's friends – see blog about Life is Fodder). My editor thought Javin was too close to Janco from the Study and Glass books so I changed it to Vinn (victor). Except Vinn was too close to Finn from SPY GLASS. Huff! This is going on during revisions and the advance reading copies went out with the name Vinn for what ended up being Loren (crowned with laurel).

Then I had characters named Daneen (god is my judge) and Danny (also god is my judge) and while they're not in the same scenes together in TOUCH OF POWER, they will eventually be in SCENT OF MAGIC. So I changed Daneen to Noelle (birthday of the lord), because my daughter wanted me to keep Danny.

So far, the names of the new characters in SCENT OF MAGIC have been fine, but we'll see :)

What do you think? Did I pick good names? Do you have a favorite and do you know what it means?



Maria V. Snyder switched careers from meteorologist to novelist when she began writing the New York Times best-selling Study Series (POISON STUDY, MAGIC STUDY and FIRE STUDY) about a young woman who becomes a poison taster. When she’s not traveling, Maria lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and daughter.


Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos. Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life....


Anna said...

I love the idea of picking out names for each letter ahead of time, so you have a large supply ready. Great tip! Also, loving the new book so far. I wish I would have called in sick to work so I could finish sooner!

Andrea said...

I agree, the alphabet method is a very good idea. For some reason, I always end up with lots of names starting with A... :-) But why can´t you have character´s names with the same letters? There´s only 26 in the alphabet, so at one point a writer will run out. Also, I think it´s somewhat underestimating the reader, thinking they won´t be able to tell characters apart if their name start with the same letter.

I like Loren and Belen. (Belén is also Bethlehem in Spanish) Looking forward to reading your new book!

Melissa @ Mel's Books and Info said...

I love your explanations for your name choices. I always wonder how authors pick the names they do. Thank you for sharing that with us!

Alethea said...

I really like how you pick all of your names. I've been writing a little bit too and have learned to take notes on the name meanings before I forget where I found them!

@Andrea I think it's more that the character occupying the same "spot" in the story as another and having too-similar names is the issue. In my book club recently there was a little uproar about books with tall, dark haired, skinny protagonists named Sam. The readers said, enough is enough! No more Sam! XD


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