New York Times  Bestselling Author

Giving Up on Character Names

No, I’m not going to start numbering the people in my books, but I am hereby abandoning my obsessive need to give each character a brand new, never before used, name.  A couple of years ago, I asked my assistant to go through my books (seventeen at the time) and list all the first names and surnames of my characters as well as all the place names I’d made up. I had her put an asterisk next to the names  belonging to main characters so I wouldn’t reuse them — or at least not use them in books that came out right after one another. This was easy  when I had one book a year, but now that my older books are being reissued,  I surrender! I promise there will never be another Annie or CeeCee, but every other name is fair game!

Want to help? There’s a newborn baby in my work-in-progress and I haven’t named her yet. She’s a little colicky and her mom, Alissa, is a frustrated seventeen-year-old. Any ideas for the little one?

29 Comments

  1. Brenda on November 18, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Time period?
    Remember I teach
    Just have to think of certain students
    Katelyn
    Sophie
    Margaret
    Wonder where I got those names? Lol

  2. Margo on November 18, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Mia
    Carly
    Jodi

  3. Margo on November 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I have another name to add:
    Joy

  4. Margo on November 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Brenda, I love your names (-O:

  5. Diane Chamberlain on November 18, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Love playing with names! When I was a kid, I liked to play “teacher” so I could make up a roll call and call out the names.

  6. Margo on November 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I may think of names periodically…here’s a few more:
    Gracia
    Peach
    Kami
    Roby
    Gillian
    Ela

  7. Brenda on November 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Diane, I did the same thing

  8. Brenda on November 18, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Love your names Margo

  9. Ann on November 19, 2010 at 2:58 am

    How about Diane for the name? Have you ever had a character named Diane in your books? I don’t remember one.

  10. Diane Chamberlain on November 19, 2010 at 11:19 am

    And you get to do the real thing in school, Brenda!
    Ann, I don’t think I’ve ever used my name. It would feel too weird. I did recently reread Reflection to make it into an e-book and realized there IS a CeeCee in there. Who knew??

  11. Denise on November 19, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    I always liked old-fashioned and/or unusual names. Lately, though, I have heard so many new ‘different’ names that sound so pretentious that I am not sure how I feel anymore. Lol I still like Siobhan, even if most people aren’t sure how to pronounce it, and Liesel.

  12. Lorraine on November 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Sadie, Chloe,Leah

  13. Joanie on November 19, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    When I was a kid i’d play school with my mom and she always gave herself the name Suzie Rainbow… I could see a teenager using that name if she’s trying to be unique, individual, and rainbows signal at least to me hope and beauty.

  14. Diane Chamberlain on November 19, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    joanie, you just reminded me that my brother and I used to play make believe with our mother and we named her Chocolate. LOL. I have no idea why.

  15. Marlene on November 20, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    How about Lexie for the baby.
    Marlene

  16. brenda on November 21, 2010 at 10:17 am

    My friend has four grandchildren among them Levi, Sadie, and Macy-she says her grandkids are named after jeans, a dance, and a store. LOL
    However, if something is going to happen to that baby, do not use my three favorites. I am sure you will discover the perfect name. However, if it takes place in 21st century, would not use anything like the names from the 60’s or 50’s…

  17. brenda on November 21, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Now-I know this is a controversial topic…but when I love an author, and I read every single book, I become familiar with the characters (like Annie)…I do not want that author to use the same name in other books for the protagonists or other main characters (minor-that is fine and dandy)…but I do not want to read about my main character who has died…or had cancer (I think of Coast Road characters with Delinsky) or Annie with you…being alive again. These are real people after all…in my mind…

  18. Margo on November 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Brenda, I agree that it would be hard for me to read about another ‘Annie’ living in another book…to me, there is only 1 ‘Annie’ and she is from KEEPER OF THE LIGHT…there will never be another like her…she still remains real to me.

  19. Lindsay on November 21, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    My vote is: Kayleigh, or Ava, or Lily

  20. Diane Chamberlain on November 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Brenda, that’s not very controversial! I thought you were going to say something juicy. I agree with you. . . but have to say that, memory being what it is, over the course of 20 books and several decades, I may screw up!

  21. Virginia on November 22, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    What about Lillian or Lily
    or Elizabeth
    or Caitlynn

    I am currently pregnant and if it’s a girl (we find out in Dec.) I will name her Lilian, so I’m a bit biased 🙂 I have read all your books except the hard to track down “Lovers and Strangers” and you’ve never had a Lillian before! Although you have had a Virginia (my own name, Cole’s mother in “Private Relations”).

  22. Diane Chamberlain on November 22, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Lillian is a beautiful name. You have a good memory–I almost forgot about Cole’s mother. I have had a Lily, actually, one of my favorite characters. The hairdresser in Reflection. Thanks for being such a faithful reader!

  23. Virginia on November 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    That is right, Lily was a great character because she was one of the first people in the book that had went through the tragedy that was willing to forgive. I read reflections in a mad whirl, and had forgotten about Lily! Thanks for helping me remember that awesome character!

  24. Noella on November 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    How about:
    Abbie
    Bailey
    Callie
    Eden
    Maddie
    Nell
    Piper

  25. janine on November 30, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Ivie Saylor, I love that name and I like
    Kerrie. Those are my two favorite names.
    Schuylar
    Krista
    lottie

    • Janine on September 8, 2013 at 11:38 am

      I did pick IVIE!!

  26. jocelyn @ BookFinds on December 3, 2010 at 12:18 am

    How about Jocelyn?

    …I have to confess that I met you at BEA and may have suggested you use my name then, as well. 😉

  27. Angelica on December 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Well I really like my name, so I think you should use it. Also I have a sister who will be seventeen and her name is Alissa…so it’s only fitting. 🙂

    I’m not sure if the names are too close together as far as starting with the same letter, but you could always use Angelica in another book, I’m not picky!

  28. Sherri on December 29, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Bea – I think you should name the baby Bea. (And before I typed this I was reading the names others suggested and thought it was interesting that I was going to suggest Bea and Joceyln’s post stated she’d met you at BEA.)

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