When are character names too unusual?

caution tape over doorI seem to like the most unusual names for my characters. In an earlier novel I was working on I had a female protagonist named Hero. In Driftwood Island, I had Alley, as in the small side street. Along with her friends Cherry and Champaign. Even in Monster in the Basement, which out of all my books has the most average names,  I still had Archer Lee Grant Garfield Haversham the third. Though, he just went by Archer.

I’m not really sure why I like odd names for my characters. Maybe because I personally have such an average, forgettable name?


Like a tiny island lost at sea, is the character name way out there?

Whatever the reason, I often go tiptoeing along the borderline of “too weird to work” for my character names. And in the book I’m working on now, I have a character that is hanging on a cliff’s edge by a fingernail. At any moment, ready to drop into the “Just too weird to be believable” category.

He’s the co-protagonist and love interest, a snobby vampire librarian, and his full name is Saint Crispin Saint Paul Saint James. Of course, typing all that out throughout the manuscript would be a royal pain so he’s Crispin St. James for short.

I don’t know why, but part of me really likes the name. There’s something old fashioned, and formal about it. I can imagine that name popping up in a Shakespearian play. And another plus about it is I can’t think of a single other book character that has a name like Crispin. Original names stick out a bit, don’t they?

Then there is the question of, how much weird is too weird? To me a name like Saint Crispin Saint Paul Saint James isn’t that unusual, but to others, it might be way out there. It’s always a difficult balance between expressing your own artistic tastes and writing something readers would like. My rule of thumb is: Name them whatever the heck I want, and then let the Beta readers comment if they think the name is too distracting.

glass colors frame

Character names make things colorful!

How do you know when you’re being too artistic with your character naming? Have there ever been unusual names that you just loved but couldn’t use? Please share them in the comments area below.


Spot light on Alley!

I would really love for everyone to get to know the people in my novels a little better, so I thought it might be fun if I interviewed the lead roles in the stories. I’m planning for this to be a multi-week blog article featuring Driftwood Island‘s Alley and Skyler, and also Monster in the Basement‘s Madeline and Archer. And then I’ll (hopefully) wrap it all up by introducing my two newest characters from my third book No place for fairy tales. I hope you enjoy this special feature article. Happy reading!

Interview 1/6

Driftwood island new and improved coverAlley

Me: I would like to introduce the lead girl hero of my first book—

Alley: I’m number one! I’m number one!

Me: Um yeah. Like I was saying, the lead girl hero of Driftwood Island, Alley Petunia Ryewooler.

Alley: No one ever uses my full name in the book, it’s just Alley. (she shrugs)

Me: Yeah, I know, I kind of wrote it.

Alley: Right, right, you totally did. But I helped a lot too.

Me: . . . . . . .

Me: Um, I was just going to ask some simple questions and we’ll see where it goes from there, okay? Are you ready?

Alley: Yes! I’m so excited, it’s like my undies are on fire!

Me: Ummmmm, o-kay.

Me: First let’s start with the easiest questions. What’s your favorite song?

Alley: Oo, that’s totally Living dead girl, by Rob Zombie. Or, like any song from the Nightmare before Christmas soundtrack.IMG_0155

Me: Living dead girl, that’s kind of an old song.

Alley: Yeah, that makes it a classic.

Me: . . . . . . . right.

Me: What is your perfect pizza?

Alley: A Spicy Italian with anchovies, calimari, and sushi on top.

Me: Wow, you really like fish.

Alley: I like seeing fish chopped up into tiny little harmless pieces. FYI, thanks a lot for that boat scene. (she wads up a tissue and throws it at me).IMG_0070

Me: Hey, no throwing things.

Alley: I’ll be having fish related nightmares for the rest of my life! It’s like I’m traumatized or something. Seriously, I can’t even walk by an aquarium with out getting the creeps.

Me: Sorry, but it made for a great story.

Alley: (silently glares)

Me: Okay, let’s move along to the next question. (I nervously shuffle some notes around)

Me: What’s your favorite thing to wear?

Alley: I have these dangly little baby bat earrings, they are so cute! And best of all, every time Skyler sees them he thinks that they’re little fairies attacking me, so he tries to save me from my earrings. It’s really funny.

Skyer: It’s so not funny. ( he’s leaning against a wall just outside of the interview set.)

Alley: It’s hilarious! Oo,oo, Skyler remember the time when you did that flying tackle on that little old lady because you though she was—.IMG_0250

Me: Okay, let’s move on to the next question.

Skyler: Thank you ( he silently mouths)

Me: (thumbs up)

Me: What was your favorite part of your adventure?

Alley: Meeting Skyler, of course. IMG_0240

Me: Awe, that’s sweet.

Skyler: ( blushes a lot and looks at his feet)

Alley: Yeah, because he’s my honey-pie-snuggle-bunny.

Skyler: (slowly facepalms)

Me: Okay, last question.

Alley: Last question? Already? But we just got stared.

Me: Last question.

Me: If you were the villain of the story, what would you have done differently?

Alley: I would have been less icky. Darla was like chasing after guys that were way younger than her, and she was hanging all over them, it was totally gross.

Skyler: I already told you, nothing happened!IMG_0242

Alley: Yeah, but she was think’n it!

Skyler: No.

Alley: Ya.

Skyler: No.

Alley: She totally wa—.

Me: Okay, thank you for your time. It was great talking to you Alley, and maybe we’ll see you again later.

Alley: Wait, I wasn’t done yet!