Getting the characters names right in a novel

Getting the right name for characters in a novel can be a tricky business. Sometimes they come to me completely out of the blue as I am creating a character, other times I will struggle to find the name that best suits the character.

I have always had this thing that people should look like their names. When someone is introduced to me I will think yes, you are a Jacqueline or a Malcolm. Other times I will think, oh no, you're definitely a Karen or a Wayne. And so it is with the characters I am creating. The name has to fit. If it's not right then the character isn't right. The name also needs to fit with the age and nationality although you can have exceptions.

So where do I get names from?

When seeking inspiration for first names I turn to my little book of baby's names or I will look up a website of baby's names. I also keep an ear out for any unusual or interesting names when meeting people and will jot these down. Cemeteries also provide one with a wide choice of first names and I scan the credits on television programmes and films to find those that might fit with the character I am creating.

As to surnames, I let my finger do the choosing and tend to pick these out of an atlas or street map. Then I see if it fits with the first name and the character.  The more novels I write  though the greater the danger of repeating names, it's easy to forget those I have already used.

With my new marine crime series I needed a punchy name for the protagonist former Royal Marine Commando, Special Boat Services Officer and came up with Art Marvik, hoping it lends him a touch of mystery and ruggedness. Art is not short for Arthur and Marvik because he chose to use his mother's name who was Finnish.

 Silent Running the first in the Art Marvik marine crime thriller series

And where did the lovely DI Andy Horton come from? I've no idea. He just sprang to mind both the name and the character and long might he thrive

Fatal Catch is published in hardcover.  It will be released as an ebook on 20 December 2015.

This video was recorded after I'd written the fifth DI Andy Horton  - here I am talking about Andy Horton and what makes him tick.

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