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 of the story and the personality of the individual, knowing the meaning of the name and assuring that the first and last names flow together. Here are the explanations behind the names used in the three manuscripts.
- UNPLANNED. “Frances Mary” is the main protagonist and her pseudonym 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 in – Willenhall, famous for its manufacture of locks and keys. “Michael Fromm’s” first name is based on an American of Belgian extraction the author once met in Sacramento, and the surname comes from a former work colleague of the author whose ancestry was Belgian.
2. ABANDONED IN BERLIN. “Hilda’s” name is fiction, albeit drawn from the Old Norse meaning “battle” (hildr). The protagonist did not want her identity published to protect the anonymity of her family. Also, the familiar name she was given by her parents was a traditional American name that was neither German nor Jewish. They feared future anti-semitism and used the name Nancy in recognition that the United States had allowed them to immigrate to America from Shanghai after the war.
3. SHE WORE A YELLOW DRESS. This novel uses a combination of real names, along with those that have been made up. “John” clearly is the author’s name, and since most of the dialogue is based on his memories, that designation seems appropriate. “Jean Louise” is a fictionalized name, based on a binary name she was given at birth, but using the name of character in another novel, known to be intelligent, stubborn, and highly ethical.