Friday, October 24, 2008

No Lindsay here

Susan, Carol, Sharon, Jane, Linda, Cathy. These are my peeps. My fans. My homies. My book's demographics.

I signed books at the Pacific International Quilt Show last weekend and those were the names I saw over and over. Any funny spellings?, I’d ask. Plain Jane, I’d hear in response. Nope, just Mary, spelled the usual way. The most exotic was Cathy with a K or Linda with a Y.

No Brittany, or Amber. No Kymberlee. No Lindsay or Keisha. No Madison. One Glenda and a Elberta, but no Jessica or Nicole.

It won't surprise you to know that those names are in in the top ten for the birth year 1946 and beyond. By 1960, there were losing their stranglehold on the top twenty, and names like Lori, Lisa and Cheryl were being to creep in. Kimberly breaks the top ten in 1964 (but not Kymberlee). By 1968, Lisa has taken over as number one, and Susan is the only one left in the top ten.

Names are important in fiction. I like to make sure my names fit the characters and are age appropriate. You don't often see an 80-year old named Melissa, and if you name her that, you'd better have a reason. So I've thought long and hard about the names in my books.

Except Buster. What kind of a name is Buster for a heartthrob? He was supposed to just be the kid from the neighborhood who grew up to be a cop. Instead he'd morphed into the kind of guy all mystery heroines need -sexy, fun and packing heat. With a name that he'll have to grow into.

What's your favorite name? Why?


Gayle Carline said...

My absolute favorite name is Siobhan, which no one can pronounce, so it's a good thing I didn't have a daughter. She'd be sooo hating me. But this is a great post - I had to change a couple of names in my novel because a friend pointed out that a 40-year old might not be named "Tiffany". My main character's given name is Periwinkle Minneopa. She's 50, but her parents were beatniks.

Betty Hechtman said...

I have lots of fun with names. In the fourth of the crochet mysteries, there is a character named Commander Blaine and nobody knows if it's his title or his name.

Camille Minichino said...

The SSA site is great for learning which names were popular in any year — or for going against that trend.

I'm not too creative in my fiction, having lived with a name that no one can pronounce or spell. I love my pen name -- no one stutters over Margaret Grace!

Terri Thayer said...

Love your answer. I love the name Siobhan. She was a character on Ryan's Hope many moons ago. I know a lawyer named Tiffany which always seems odd to my ears.

Love Periwinkle, Commander Blaine and Margaret Grace. Of course with hippies for parents, anything goes. Somewhere out there there's a forty-year old who was christened Dude by his hippie parental units!

Monica Ferris said...

I guess my favorite would have to be Elizabeth. I use a Name Your Baby book but there's also a web site that gives popular names by year, so "age appropriate" names can be given characters. Right now I'm very fond of the name Casey O'Day -- a local radio announcer has that name. It's almost hokey, but not quite.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Per a famous author, one name you should never use in a book is "Fred." Because you never want to have to write, "Fred said."

beckylevine said...

As you've heard me say many times, Buster is the Perfect name for your hearthrob--well, Dewey's anyway!

Marylou said...

My favorite name is my granddaughter's, Lyric. It's hard to say if that's because the name is so great or because she is my only granddaughter.

My name is Mary Lou (Louise). I was born in 1959 (that's right I turn 50 next year). And even though I was named after both my grandmothers, I don't think anyone thought far enough ahead to what Mary Lou would sound like for a 50 year old. Wait til I'm 80, won't Mary Lou be cute.