Thanks for hosting! So, my latest book, The Black Door is out and available to buy, and I’ve just signed the contract for my first short story, One Night in Edinburgh (part of the City Nights series by Tirgearr Publishing). I’m not writing anything in particular at the moment, I’m taking a well-earned break, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about the next one.
I recently took my kids to DisneyLand Paris, and as every writer should, I kept a notebook in my handbag, which was handy for the train ride home. I came up with a few ideas for the next novel but I got stuck on thinking of names. I can’t write a book calling my characters Fa, Fb, Ma, and Mb (Female A, Female B… you get the idea.) I asked my husband for some ideas. I said I wanted something for my main female character, my heroine. It had to be sweet but sexy, something that makes her sound attractive, innocent, but feisty. He came up with Rochelle. Now, no offence to anyone called Rochelle, it’s a great name, but it doesn’t make me think sweet and innocent. So I asked him to try again – Gwendolyn was his next offering. Again, no offence meant, but it’s a bit of a mouthful to keep writing over and over again. I like my heroine names to be short-ish and punchy. Paige, Imogen, Chloe (One Night In Edinburgh)… They are easy to get your tongue around.
So I tried male names. Something strong, sexy, powerful… “Richard,” he says. That’s his name, so it got him an eye-roll. All of this got me thinking – what is in a name? I mean seriously, what do we think about when we name our characters?
I have a well-used, dog-earred, torn 100,000 Baby Names books. It even breaks the first section down, listing famous names, celebrities kid’s names, names that sound strong, sweet, sexy, rich etc. Inspirational names, themed names, almost everything you can think of. But I still can’t find one that suits my latest character.
Female names are easier to come up with than male I find. Amy, Ellie, Anna – short, punchy, beautiful sounding names. But when it comes to men, I struggle. And don’t even get me started on last names!
Cal Ryedale (The Black Door) for example, his name changed several times over the course of writing the novel. In my first draft, he was called Luke, and Imogen’s eldest son was David. Then I decided to swap it all around, so her son was called Luke, and he was called David. But David just didn’t seem to suit him.
I was watching a lot of daytime TV while I was writing it – background noise is often required, I’m not one of these writers who needs to be locked in a dark and silenced room. I don’t want kids running around, and I don’t want distracting music (I start singing along), but TV I can deal with. I started watching Tim Roth’s Lie To Me. His character is called Cal Lightman. Cal – it suited my main character.
Last names are my worst enemy when it comes to creating a character though. I tend to sit there, staring at either my bookcase or DVD collection and pick something from the spine. Although I’m not sure where Ryedale and Pearce came from – names floating about my head, I guess. Mushing sounds together is another habit of mine. Sean Rubin for example – Sean I got from opening up my baby names book and sticking my finger in the middle of the page. Rubin was me playing with sounds until I came up with something, it just happened to be an actual name. But it suited the character, so it stayed.
I still haven’t decided on the names of my next characters though. “Untitled Book Five” still consists of Fa, Fb, Ma, and Mb.
Men. All the bloody same.
My mind traced back to the day I had given up on one-sided monogamous relationships.
The children were at school or work, and the sun was beating down. It was a glorious day, and I had decided to go home for lunch, rather than spend it in a stuffy office.
I pulled up outside the house and a fleeting thought passed through my mind when I saw Connor’s car sitting in the driveway. My husband of eighteen years had had the same idea.
I crept into the house, hoping to surprise him. But, it turned out that his idea had involved a slutty bottle-blonde.
I wanted to blame the events that followed on a red mist descending over me. The truth is that in the time it took for my mind to register that some tart was riding my husband in what I later found out was known as reverse cowgirl, my mind had calculated the necessary response.
The skank lost a good handful of bleached hair, roots and all. I allowed her to gather her clothes and watched as she tugged her pants on whilst running out of the house. If nothing else, the neighbours got a good show.
Connor yelled at me. But his words were drowned out by the blood pumping in my ears. I marched back up the stairs and into his little study. Opening the window, I saw Miss Slut stood in the middle of the road, screeching obscenities at me. I looked at the Ferrari in our driveway and smiled.
I think his Xbox enjoyed its first and final flying lesson as it sailed out of the window. The fact that it landed in the bonnet of his prized mid-life crisis proved that Karma does exist.
I made a mental note of the two names at the top of my imaginary hit list.
I blinked and I was back in the boardroom.
Imogen Pearce is a single mum of four children and fast approaching 40, she works at Ryedale Incorporated where she has to battle a younger and smarter generation to get to where she wants to go. If that means taking on the account of Cherry and Sean Rubin’s adult shop, then she will. But what happens when Imogen discovers the private club that they run at the back? And what happens when she realizes she knows quite a few members?
British author Charlotte Howard, was born in Oman and spent much of the first part of her life flitting between Oman, Scotland, and England. Now settled in Somerset, Charlotte lives with her husband, two children, and growing menagerie of pets.
Her career as a writer began at an early age, with a poem being featured in an anthology for the East Midlands. Since then Charlotte has written many short stories and poems, and finally wrote her first full-length piece of fiction in 2010.
During what little spare time she has, Charlotte enjoys reading and writing (of course), spending time with her family, and watching action movies whilst eating curry and drinking tea.
Charlotte is an active member of Yeovil Creative Writers.