WHAT’S BEHIND A NAME USED IN A NOVEL:
Have you ever wondered how authors come up with names for their protagonists, even when writing non-fiction to give privacy to family members and friends? The rules of selection include matching the name to the era and ethnicity of the character, enabling consistency with the background and personality of the individual, knowing the meaning of the name and assuring that the first and last names flow together. Here are the stories behind my names.
- “Frances Mary” is the main protagonist and her designation combines the names of her two sisters and the lyrics of Ave Maria.
“George Luckett” was created using the name of the British reigning monarch at the time of his birth, and the surname Luckett is a play on the industry prevalent in the town in which he grew up – Willenhall, famous for the manufacture of locks and keys. “Michael Fromm’s” first name is based on an American of Belgian extraction I once met in Sacramento, and the surname comes from a close work colleague whose ancestry was Belgian.
- ABANDONED IN BERLIN. “Hilda’s” name is fiction, albeit drawn from the Old Norse meaning “battle” (hildr). The real protagonist did not want her true name published to protect the anonymity of her family. Also, the existing name goes against the criteria used in selection. Her parents gave her the name they considered traditionally American and non-German – Nancy – in appreciation of the United States allowing them to immigrate to America from Shanghai after the war.
- SHE WORE A YELLOW DRESS. Interestingly, this historical fiction uses a combination of real names with those that have been made up. “John” is clearly my name, and since most of the dialogue is based on my memories, that designation seems appropriate. “Jean Louise” is fictionalized, based on her real binary name and a character who is known to be intelligent, stubborn, and highly ethical (I refer to Kill a Mocking Bird). The other names are a mix of actual titles and ones where confidentiality is appropriate.