Creating Names

One of the online reviews of my book had a very interesting paragraph.  The reviewer went through exactly where all the major names in my book came from. I found it interesting because the writer was so confident of his/her logic, and thought it was so obvious as to be boring and banal and was so thoroughly, completely and entirely wrong.

That made me think it might be useful to post where the names really came from. That way you can see the difference between my creative process and the reviewer’s interpretation.

First off, the story of Blade’s Edge is set on the planet Timarron. The reviewer thought this was obviously a takeoff of Cimarron. It’s actually my attempt to condense “Timmy and the Lords of Destruction” into one word. I did look up Cimarron to see if the word Timarron was going to sound like something disgusting, but beyond ascertaining it wasn’t something icky, I don’t actually remember what it meant.

Timmy and the Lords of Destruction is, of course, the name of a band fronted by a handicapped boy (who pretty much only says “Timmy!”) on South Park. Yup, I named a planet after a fictional band on a cartoon. I like Timmy.

That brings us to Barian. The reviewer was quite certain it came from Bahrain, but, alas, that’s not how it transpired. Barian is the last two syllables of the word “barbarian” just as Zona is the last two syllables of the word “Amazon” that have been rearranged a little bit. I thought it would be a dead giveaway, since the ruler of the Zonans is named Silean Penthes and the queen of the Amazons was named Penthesilea. Barbarians vs. Amazons; is it not tidy and balanced and strangely symmetrical as a starting point? Obviously I thought so.

The capitals of the respective countries, Balsom and Krystale, came from television as well. Balsom was respelled from a shampoo commercial featuring the herbal ingredient balsam. The reviewer seemed to think it came from a city on Mars in a famous SF book I’ve never actually read. Krystale came from a Biography Channel episode about 1980s drama Dynasty. You’ll never guess which character (she typed with tongue firmly in cheek). The reviewer didn’t have an opinion on that one.

And that brings me to the main characters: Taryn Penthes and Blademir von Stossos. Well, we know where Penthes came from. Blademir came from a baby-name website that listed it as a variant of Vladimir–I wanted something sort of Eastern European/Slavic, but not quite so vampire-evoking as Vlad. And this was long before “Blade’s Edge” became the title, so it wasn’t nearly as punny as it ended up being.

Taryn was always Taryn; she sort of popped into my head with that name. And I used to have a manager named Wally–he had a twin brother named Walter, so I have a precedent for Taryn’s evil twin, Talyn. Two precedents, actually; while I was working for Wally, a colleague told me about her friend John, whose psychotic identical twin had escaped custody and might be trying to kill him–again.

I also don’t remember where von Stossos came from. It might have had something of John Stamos the actor in it, or something of John Stossel the television journalist. Or the girls in the basement (my subconscious mind) might have sent it up the way they sent up Taryn.

So there you have it. My creative process in selecting or creating names is probably odder than some and not nearly as odd as others. I still like Timmy.

1 comment so far

  1. RKCharron on

    Hi 🙂
    Thank you for a fascinating post.
    I loved learning how you came up with the names.
    Thank you for sharing, Val.
    All the best,
    PS – Have a wonderful last weekend of September.

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