Oct 5, 2012

What's in a name?

By Leah Ashton

While I don't think I'm particularly brilliant at coming up with names for my characters, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. Generally, they just "come" to me - and usually as a package deal: first and surname. Currently I'm in the treacly slow part of writing a book (for me, the opening chapters) but at least I have names! Lanie Smith and Gray(son)... Something (just to prove my own theory wrong!).

But despite contradicting myself with the surname thing, character names are easy - maybe because I link them to their personality. Lanie had to be Lanie - she considers herself plain and almost mannish, in contrast to her glamorous sister Sienna. Similarly, Gray had to be a Gray - suave and confident (and gorgeous!). In my third book (Why Resist a Rebel? - out in March 2013 ;) ), my movie star hero named himself: Devlin Cooper. I mean, who else could get away with that name but a movie star? And my vivacious, energiser bunny heroine was always going to be Ruby.

US cover
So you'd think with all this experience with names, that I'd have no problem coming up with a name for my own baby?

I wish.

I'm almost 27 weeks pregnant, and as I'm finally obviously pregnant (my bump hid itself for a very, very long time!) I'm being showered with questions: Do you know if it's a boy or a girl? Are you going to find out? Do you have any names?

All this interest is lovely - and for the record, my answers are no, no and sort of.

We have a boy name locked in - it's a name with meaning to both my husband and I and so we are both in complete agreement.

But a girl's name? No idea. My conversations with Mr Leah go something like this:

Me: "How about <classic, old-fashioned style name that I tend to favour>?"

Mr Leah: "No. How about <name I think is dreadful and am secretly appalled that the man I love would actually like>"

UK cover
We're not getting very far!

So, what are your suggestions for sorting this out? How did you name your kids, or how do you name your characters?

Plus - happen to know any awesome, old-fashioned girl names that aren't super-common yet have a modern edge that will appeal to my husband? (I know, long shot...)

By the way - it's release week for A Girl Less Ordinary in both the UK and US! The covers are completely different for each market, but I love them both - so even if you've seen them before, here they are again :)


  1. I have a wonderful character called Ella, except her real name is Elizabeth Louise Laura Addison. She was christened Ella when my romantic lead saw her initials on her camera strap E.L.L.A and assumed that was her name. They parted for many years during which she reverted back to Liz, with one paramour calling her Lizzie but within moments of being back in Roman's company she was once more his Ella.

  2. Many years ago I was a student nurse on a care of the elderly ward. I remember lots of floral names - Rose, Violet and Daisy. Liked them all and have used Violet for one of my heroines!

  3. I don't have my own kids yet & I don't write books, but sometimes I struggle with names when I'm reading a book because I don't know how to pronounce a certain name. For example, in my native country Latvia name Agnese is pronounced like ag-ne-se, but here in Italy letters "gn" form sound ɲ (soft n) like in Italian dish gnocchi. Therefore I'm always glad when authors use simple & well known names.

  4. Both of those covers *are* gorgeous! Can't say which one I like best.
    Re names... I always wanted to call my first born girl Rebecca, in part because of the book/movie we were discussing here the other week. Everyone in my family knew how much I loved the name Rebecca. When my oldest sister had her first girl (two years before me) guess what she called her? Uh-huh.
    However, I love all my daughters' names. The youngest - my husband and I both agreed on a name as easy as that :snaps fingers: Don't really know how that happened!
    Re names for characters... in my third book, the heroine's first name was Alice and the hero's last names was Cooper. Was almost finished writing the book before I realised.

  5. teleswordbites - I love the name Ella! It's the name of my heroine in A Girl Less Ordinary :)

    Scarlet - Guess three names that Mr Leah has rejected :( I particularly love Violet and Rose. I'm still hoping that somehow, after seeing me give birth, he'll let me name a little girl whatever I want :)

    Natalija - I agree with you, I find it really hard if I stumble over unusual names in books, or if I'm not 100% sure how it's supposed to be pronounced. I've tried to keep the names I choose for characters really simple (although not sure if Devlin fits that category! I did call him Dev throughout the book :) ).

    Robyn - Oh no! Bad big sister! I have a name I love (Edith/Edie) but my sister has reserved that one for her future child :) "Alice Cooper" is hysterical!

  6. Good luck with baby names, Leah! It's a big thing when you consider that your child will live with the name for the rest of its live. Challenging enough to name characters! LOL

    With regards to old-fashioned girl names... I was thinking about our family tree and there's a Lydia and a Letitia and a Lavinia. Lots of Elizabeths and Marys, of course! And an Emmeline which is quite nice.

    Love your book covers!

    Robyn! That Alice Cooper is priceless! LOL

  7. Oh, I love Emmeline, Sharon! It's gone onto the list :) Exactly the type of pretty, old fashioned name I like.

  8. When it came to naming our son, in agreement immediately. For our daughter we just kept throwing out names until one stuck - Jane.

    I love the names Eloise & Alexandra (English pronunciation).

  9. I love names! Sometimes I think I became a writer so I could use up names ;-)
    I love the old-fashioned names too. Margaret is one of my favorites b/c you can do so many different nicknames:
    Meg, Maggie, Margot or Margo, Greta, Gretchen, Peggy, and don't tell your husband, but Daisy too ;-)
    I really wanted Margaret. My husband wanted Wilhelmina (talk about an old-fashioned name!) We settled on Maeve (I still don't remember how) and then ended up with a Frederick and a Seamus.
    Oh well ;-)

  10. AM LOL at your post Leah, especially the bit about your hubby's name suggestions. You should have heard the SHOCKER girls names mine came up with. Most of the names just came to us so I don't have suggestions, but I'l give you the weird mix of girls names we liked. Feel free to use any as I'm fairly sure there'll be no more babies in this household!

    Good luck.

  11. Mary - I think Jane is an absolutely gorgeous name, Mary! I've always liked it. Eloise is another I've suggested (and had rejected) by Mr Leah :)

    Jill - I love Margaret and Wilhelmina (I love names that shorten to something pretty, and I think Willa is gorgeous), and Maeve is absolutely beautiful :) But I love your boys names, too!

    Rachael - Haha, glad it isn't just my husband! You have very similar taste to me, Matilda and Imogen in particular :)

    BUT - good news, we may have actually found a girl's name we actually agree on :) It's still percolating, but it may be a winner. It was triggered by this blog post - so THANK YOU! - everyone :) Although I'm still keen to hear more ideas!

  12. Leah, I like: Lily, Georgia (I've seen it spelt Jorga to appeal to your hubby, lol) and Amelia. Amelia can be shortened to Amy and it has the "Lia" ending that links back to your name. Good luck with the choosing!