Since I mentioned the Irish name "Declan" in my previous post, I've been thinking about the names of characters in my books. For surnames, I steal them from the lists of actors, producers or directors that crawl down my TV screen after a program. For first names, I began using names that were popular at the time. But, lately, I've named my heroines Megan, Dana, Kimberly and Darcy, which belong to girls and women in my family. Some heroes are called Jonathan, Steve, Michael and Richard, also family names. These may seem like "plain vanilla" (read "dull") to some, but I happen to think it's important for the reader to be able to pronounce and spell the names I use.
That's why I don't understand the current craze to change the spelling. Instead of Christine, we have Krystynne, and Barbra, not Barbara. A woman calls herself Sessalee. Wasn't that name formerly Cecily? How about Keyren for Karen, Mairi for Mary, Kerralynne for Caroline, and Karole for Carol? Some men are just as bad. Instead of Larry, we have Lary; instead of Dan we have Dann. I even met a man who spelled his name Xchyler and pronounced it Skyler. A writer cals himself Samm, and another "Bhyl," which I suppose is pronounced Bill. and one named Jimmy spells it "Jhimye." Or maybe that was a woman.
I once belonged to a writing group where authors chose names of places for their characters. Probably because of Tennessee Williams, Minnesota Fats, Indiana Jones and Paris Hilton. Authors used Montana, Nevada, Washington, Colorado, Alaska, Reno, Devon and even Arabia. Fortunately, I moved away before someone thought of Baghdad.
Writers are beginning to change their own names too and perhaps it helps their careers. I don't know. My father, who was British, gave popular English names - Vera and Phyllis - to my sister and me. When film was a new medium, actors often changed their names to something simple. Now they make them as strange as possible.
I shudder to think what the future holds when so many people give their children - or themselves - weird names. As a example, here are the names of contestants on a game show I sometimes watch. (You can learn a lot more than the cost of vowels watching WHEEL OF FORTUNE.) Sashimia, Farisa, Tamashia, Chadira, Plezetta, Saptosa and Tayonna. Tonnacus, Tavis, Ramar, Tenok, Okey and Rami are all men. I kid you not.
Is this just a fad that will come to an end before I give up trying to spell names altogether? To keep my sanity, I'm beginning a list of all the weird names that belong to real people. If you care to add some I'll be glad to post them and keep them in my little black book.