For today’s showcase, we have C.K. Kelly Martin herself telling us about her character naming experience when she wrote Tomorrow. Quite interesting actually. Read on below to find out what are her thoughts on this topic 🙂
Ooh. and there’s a giveaway too!
Character Naming in Tomorrow
For me, and I suspect most authors are the same in this, naming a character is never a purely random act. Generally the more important a character is usually the more thought has gone into their name. Various factors come into place – ethnicity, the time period a book’s set in, and a certain indefinable quality that can best be translated as what feels right for a given character’s personality.
When I’m writing a contemporary novel I’ll often start out by flipping through my collection of baby name books, and looking up common names from various years on websites. For example http://www.thinkbabynames.com allows you to browse the top one thousand female and male names in the U.S. and a selection of other countries dating back decades in some cases. I’m also in the habit of jotting down interesting names whenever I encounter them and saving them into a master list on my laptop. Right now there are 275 names surnames and first names in the document. I usually read through the list before I’m beginning a new book, in case one of the names seems like a good fit for my character.
Writing Tomorrow, I inherited the names of the two central characters from the first book where they appeared: Yesterday. The original process of naming Garren Lowe and Freya Kallas was a little different than my usual one. I’d never written about characters from the future before. Given that there are no websites with popular baby names from 2063, I was forced to imagine names that teenagers fifty years into the future might have! Looking back fifty years into the past, none of the top U.S. girls or boys names from 1963 hit the top ten in 2012. Clearly, there are changing trends at play.
But the future wasn’t the only thing I had in mind when I named Freya. Freya is also the name of a teenage girl character from one of my favourite movies, The Year My Voice Broke, a 1988 Australian coming of age movie set in 1962. After looking up the name and finding its Anglo-Saxon meaning is queen of the gods, while in Norse mythology Freya is the name of the goddess of love, beauty, war and death, I knew the name was perfect. Freya is forced to be a warrior of sorts in Yesterday and Tomorrow – to fight for her existence – but being a warrior is also something that seems to come more naturally to her than it might to some other people.
The name Garren, on the other hand, is one I’d never heard as a first name but had a quality I liked. It brings to mind two very different French words that my Anglo tongue flattens into similar sounding ones: guerre (war) and gare (station). The former fits in well with Freya’s warrior qualities as Garren also has to battle for his and Freya’s life. Meanwhile the latter suggests stability – a station is something that seems very fixed, a sign of civilization. This is also in keeping with Garren’s loyal personality.
Other characters you’ll encounter in Tomorrow are Isaac Monroe and Seneval, who both have pivotal roles in guiding Garren into the resistance movement of 2063. As with Garren, Seneval as a first name is an invention – one that sounded both feminine but strong to me. Because Isaac is one of the leaders of the resistance (known as the ‘grounded movement’) I wanted to give him a more traditional name. His surname Monroe, is also quite deliberate. I liked the idea of Monroe having a nickname that emphasized his shortness – a physical quality that marked him as being at odds with most of the powerful people from 2063, whose DNA would have been fiddled with to correct any unwanted qualities. Hence Monroe is often known as ‘Minnow,’ which sounds similar to his authentic surname. Finally, with Tomorrow being set both in the future and 1986 Vancouver, you’ll also meet 1980s characters with names that were popular at that time, among them Rachel, Dennis, Scott, and Sheldon.
The search for a character name is an enjoyable but inexact process. In essence what it comes down to is that when you arrive at a specific name, somehow you instinctively know you’ve reached the right place.
Publisher: Random House
The sci-fi adventure that began with Yesterday continues with a thriller that can also be read as a standalone.2063, United North America: climate change has rendered great swathes of the country uninhabitable, the rise of robot workers has created mass unemployment, eco-terrorism is a constant threat and a 2059 nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India has torn large holes in the world’s ozone layer and pushed humanity’s existence towards a cliff.Garren and Freya have managed to escape that nightmare world and lose themselves in 1986 Vancouver. But the future’s reach is long, and they’re no longer safe there. No one is. Shadowy forces are intent on influencing the past’s path. And when Freya is taken, it’s up to Garren to save both her, and the future.
C.K. Kelly Martin always thought she’d get around to writing in earnest eventually and began writing her first novel in a flat in Dublin, finishing it in a Toronto suburb. By then she’d discovered that young adult fiction felt the freshest and most exciting to her. You have most of your life to be an adult but you only grow up once!Martin currently resides near Toronto with her Dub husband. She became an Irish citizen in 2001 and continues to visit Dublin often (although not as often as she’d like!) while working on teen novels.