I have mentioned this a couple of times, but one of the comments people make about the characters in my books is about their names; and as I’ve also mentioned before, I am really careful about choosing, and don’t just pluck random names out of the air. If someone is a certain age I look at lists of babies names for the year they were born; if they come from a particular background I try to choose a name which would come from the country they or their parents were born in. I think about the background of my characters; if they are very posh they might have a different name from ordinary people like us; if their parents were arty, or eccentric, or religious, or if their was a family name handed down over generations I would choose it so carefully. I even look at the meanings of names… so, although it isn’t as difficult as choosing the names of real children, it still is something not taken lightly or carelessly.
Some of my characters arrive with names; thy just pop into my head, almost like real people with names attached. If the character has a name which doesn’t fit the criteria I mentioned above, then I really try and work out why they might have that name – I don’t always explain it to the reader, but I know the reason. For example, in ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’, Rosa’s husband Luka Czekov has an Eastern European name… why? Well, Rosa and Luka came into my head with those names, but there are lots of people in Britain today who have Eastern European names… and not just people who have arrived here recently. After the war many Polish men, brave men who had fought for their country, stayed in Britain rather than returning to their homeland. Many displaced persons from all over Europe settled here, not least some who had been prisoners of war, and had preferred to remain in Britain rather than being repatriated. I didn’t explain why Luka had A Russian sounding name… but plenty of people I grew up with and went to college had such names.
Now in the story which arrived in a dream, the story that I am writing simultaneously to ‘Magick’, my sequel to ‘Radwinter’, in this other story which is just poddling along with no particular place to go as yet, the main character has no name! I just can’t get a name which is right for her. She is a woman in her early fifties, divorced from Gerry, with two children called Clare and Daniel, with loads of friends who all have names…
This main character is as yet unnamed and it is quite a challenge to write her story, in the third person, without naming her. It isn’t at all like the heroine of ‘Rebecca’ who is known as Mrs de Winter, but has no first name, it isn’t at all like that… but it has become a very interesting exercise for me as a writer to bring her to life as a character, to make it clear which of the female people I am talking about, and to maintain the flow of the narrative… interesting!
If you want to read Rosa’s adventures, and find out who was stalking her: