Louder Than Words Book Tour: What’s In A Name?

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What’s In A Name?

Choosing character names can be an agonizing process. Some authors use baby name books as guides. Others pluck names from their heads, perhaps based on people they have known, family members, etc. Some authors go for names that are appropriate given the character’s personality or situation. Fantasy novels draw tend to foster some very creative monikers (sometimes too creative with those apostrophes and ankh symbols.) And, as in real life, we tend to see certain names wax and wane with what’s currently popular.

I must confess I don’t put massive amounts of thought into names, at least not the main character names. I will occasionally do a global find and replace if I change my mind somewhere during the first draft process. Rarely after that will I make a change. Secondary characters are the only ones likely to get name changes … and usually that’s because I accidentally changed them mid-book (oops) or I realized I had two names that were too much alike.

For the lead character in Louder Than Words, I chose Ellen, as derived from Eleanor, because I wanted something simple and plain. Inconspicuous. Maybe a little old-fashioned.

The name Eleanor was popular in the 1910’s – 1920’s but had been on the decline until the 2010’s. If asked, Ellen would tell you it’s a family name her parents saddled her with. Ellen is the derivative she chose to make the best of it. She would have found Elle too girly and flirty (reminiscent of Legally Blonde), Ellie or Nellie too country, Nora too old, Ella too servile-sounding, Norene even older-sounding than Eleanor.

As with anyone saddled with a dead relative’s name from a bygone era, Ellen can be a bit prickly about it. She’s not too pleased when Rex decides to call her Ellie to tease her, so much so she can’t simply ignore it.

Rex is also an old name. It’s derived from the Latin word for king. I chose it because it’s simple and easy to spell, and you don’t see it in many other books. I also chose Rex because it’s my uncle’s name. It’s actually his middle name. All of my mother’s siblings went by their middle names for some reason, though my uncle Rex shared his first name with my grandfather. However, even my grandfather went by his middle name. Maybe that was a depression era thing?

Ellen is guilty of drawing early conclusions about Rex based on his name. Before seeing him, she assumes he’s old. I think most of us would have done the same. Later, after she knows him better, she sees leonine traits in him, a cat considerably larger and more grand than the Cornish Rex breed of domestic cat she also associates with the name early on. Good thing Ellen wasn’t into dinosaurs and Rex wasn’t interested in acting predatory and ferocious or we might have had a completely different flavor of internal thoughts from Ellen.

Other names in the story: Gracie, Lizzy, Leanne, Mark, Tyler and Robbie are out of the hat plucks. I will confess that I borrowed Mark’s last name Zillow from the online real estate database and search engine company. Zillow is based out of Seattle, a few hours north of me. I had exchanged a few tweets with its CEO once upon a time, which I thought was kind of cool, though it didn’t help my home’s valuation whatsoever. Although Rex pokes fun at Mark Zillow’s name because he’s jealous, I couldn’t help but have a little fun of my own.

Author’s prerogative.

Iris (who picked her own pen name from a Split Enz song)


Β Louder Than Words

byΒ Iris St. Clair

Release Date: 09/16/14

Swoon Romance


Summary from Goodreads:

Disappointment has been on speed dial in Ellen Grayson’s life lately. Her dad died, her mom numbs the grief with drugs and alcohol, and her so-called friends have slowly abandoned her.

Trusting a popular teacher with her troubles should have been safe and should NOT have led to an unwelcome seduction attempt that made her desperate to escape the final moments of Junior year. Lesson learned. Best to keep all the sordid details to herself and trust no one.

Enter Rex Jacobi, a cocky boy, recently transplanted from New York City and fellow summer camp employee. Though his quick wit and confidence draws her in, she can’t let him get too close. And summer is just long enough and hot enough to keep a boy like that at arm’s length.

But by the time Rex’s charm wears down her resistance, it’s too late. He’s put Ellen on the “just friends” shelf and has shifted his romantic attentions to the impossibly annoying and perky anti-Ellen. Even worse, the teacher who tried to get her to sleep with him is still at it, preying on other girls while Ellen struggles to come to terms with what happened.

With her ability to trust as shaky as a chastity vow on prom night, Ellen must decide if she has enough remaining courage to speak up about the well-liked teacher and risk retribution, tell Rex how she really feels about him and risk heartbreak, or hold all her secrets inside. After all, it’s the only safe place she knows when the only thing louder than words is the fear of being rejected.


About the Author

78b2b-irisstclaireIris St. Clair is the pen name for a long-suffering cubicle worker by day, a Walter Mitty-like dreamer by night. (Her alter ego Tatiana Ivanadance also choreographs gravity-defying routines in those fantasies, but that’s another bio.)

No matter what genre she writes, she prefers witty, insecure heroines and kind, persistent heroes able to break through to the gooey heart inside.

In high school she was voted most likely to win at Monopoly and Clue, but least likely to throw a ball anywhere near a target. Thank goodness writing requires less hand-eye coordination, punctuation errors notwithstanding.

Iris believes in the two-year “fish or cut bait” dating rule and has a 20+ year marriage and two teenaged sons as proof of concept. She lives, writes, dreams and dances in the rainy Portland, OR area.

Author Links:







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30 responses to “Louder Than Words Book Tour: What’s In A Name?

  1. I had fun reading about how you chose names and gave the characters thoughts on it too. I already feel a connection with them and your book sounds. Thanks for sharing Iris and thank you for hosting Anna!

  2. Thanks for letting me borrow your blog today, Anna. πŸ™‚

  3. I really am the worst with names, it takes me forever to come up with them. I even had trouble naming my pets LOL!
    Great guest post!

  4. hey, I didn’t know you were a fellow cubicle worker! yup, those hours spent in there sure trigger the imagination, don’t they? πŸ™‚ I try to use names that first come to mind, until a friend made me notice that all of my names were drawn from people we’d met/interacted with in college… oooooopsssss

  5. Congrats to Iris. Now, that’s a fun name.

    I love the process of choosing names, especially with the YA fantasy I’m editing now. It’s a bit of a complicated process since it’s a portal fantasy and involved cosmic twins. πŸ˜€

  6. Love your bio. Well done.

  7. Good job! One of the names in my wip was given to me direct. I had started up a correspondence with my boys’ grandfather, Joseph. He sent a card in reply, and signed it, Papa Joe. I thought, I’ve got to use that! It was too good not to go in the next book!

  8. I hate choosing names. All names seem to escape me the minute I need one as well.

    Love the cover!

  9. I put a lot of thought in names and I use all different means to find good ones.

  10. I’m love to hear how authors choose the names for their characters. And what inspires them to write about their descriptions and mannerisms? Zillow – funny and creative. Doubt you will see that a lot. LOL Have a great weekend everyone!

    sherry @ fundinmental

  11. You’re naming process sounds quite a bit like mine. I don’t stress too much about it, but i have a lot of fun with the research πŸ™‚

    Sarah Allen
    (Writing Blog)

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

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