If you’re like me, the name of a character or a set of characters can make or break the flow of a book. I mean, maybe they don’t ruin it, but they can certainly help you visualize and feel how alien or foreign a character is, or perhaps how relatable they are if you can picture them through their name alone. Let’s be honest, you probably say the main characters names hundreds of times over the course of a book. If I were to say a name like Grace, James, Katniss, I bet some of you can instantly see a face even before an author described them. That’s a powerful thing, especially if you like or dislike that person you visualized.
When I write my books, I try to have fun with names. They’re a personal choice that gives me power to evoke feelings, so I want to take that seriously. I want you to feel the mystery or excitement or maybe even fear. I also don’t want you tripping over something that sounds like marbles in your mouth. That’s not good for flow.
So, what are my favorite names in Dark Nebula? I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with a few of the main characters, Abigail, Bradley, and Zachary. If you read any of my emails in the past or the acknowledgements in my book, you’d know those are the names of my three children. To me, the names are very personal (obviously) and I attempt, when writing them, to summon their personalities and quirks. The small things that make them tick and yet also make them different.
The next name that comes to mine is a character in Discovery, book 2 in the series. There’s an encounter about halfway through with an alien named Yaan. Now I have to admit, this was me being goofy one night. I really wanted to find a fun name for this character. Not sure where to start, I dug into Latin and Greek for a few hours, but nothing came to me. Then I had a weird memory flash of one of the first applications I wrote when I wanted to start my own company. It was called Yaba and stood for Yet Another Bookmark App. You can imagine what the app did. Anyhow, the name Yaan immediately popped out and from that point forward it just fit… Yet Another Alien Name 😉
I think on or about the same time I was writing those chapters I came upon another name. It was for a youthful alien that joins one of our bands of merry explorers. They’re young and strong, and more importantly very human but not. I don’t want to ruin Discovery for you, but when you see the name Ibu, try sounding it out with each letter being its own word.
Ok, I realize those names are a bit whimsical, but what about names for people like Joyce Green, the Director of Colonization in Isolation? Why did I choose her name? Simple, I had that moment of visual strength when I wrote her character. A face popped into my mind of someone from my past. Someone strong-willed, yet able to relate to people. Someone who could push to get what she wanted, yet party with the best of them and the name Joyce just fit. I wrote the person in my mind before I even typed the name, but I knew it was her.
In Generations, I dig into a few of my aliens from Isolation. You learn about some of the events of Inspector Drak and Vice Admiral Gwar. While the names themselves aren’t too foreign, they’re easy to pronounce and remember. Their alien species however, the Thyreus and the Qudoculi are another matter entirely. Can anyone guess why I used those species names? If you have a guess, drop me an email and I’ll select a winner at random to receive a free copy of Dark Nebula: Isolation.
That’s what’s so fun about writing. Every little thing counts. As the reader, you experience the broad strokes and the fine minutia. I want that experience to be engulfing and enjoyable, memorable and yet comfortable. To me, a name can make or break that time we have together. I hope you enjoyed the background to a few of the names of my characters, and they bring to life the story in a fresh new way.