Guest Post: Fanny Blake

I am so excited to be welcoming Fanny Blake to my blog today.

How I name the characters in my novels

by Fanny Blake

They say it’s all in a name. And I think they’re right.

Naming the characters in a novel is important. Names create impressions that will help readers identify with characters – or not. Choosing them can be much more difficult that you’d expect.

Like everyone else, I associate names with people I’ve met or have heard of. As a result they have a certain significance for me. Of course I don’t know what the name will conjure up for a reader, but some I suspect names have the same resonance for all of us eg Mary, Joseph, Adolf, Elizabeth etc

For some reason, I’m drawn to short names, often abbreviated. I don’t know why. In one of my novels I found that three of the four main characters were abbreviated to names ending in ‘y’.  When that was pointed out, I agreed that it was irritating to read. So two of them were changed. I also try to make sure that no two names in a novel are so similar that they’re confusing. So there’s no Jerry and Jenny, Gerard and Gerald, Carrie and Larrie.

The names have to suit the period in which the novel is set, too. Wonderful as the Victorian names found on gravestones may be, many of them would not sit well in a contemporary novel. It’s unlikely you’d find an Ebeneezer Norwood or a Dainty Fothergill walking down the street today!

The names I choose have no special significance to me beyond that. I don’t model my characters on actors, say, any more than I would choose their names. Although I believe some authors do.

However the names I initially christen my characters are often changed as I’m beginning a novel and getting to know them.

In With a Friend Like You, I wanted the two central female characters to have names that felt sympathetic, despite their differences. Beth is organised with a career that means everything to her. Megan is easy-going, generous and puts her family first. Beth began her life as Karen. Megan began as Lizzie. As I wrote, I became convinced that Karen was wrong for this particular character, and changed her to Beth. Obviously Beth and Lizzie wouldn’t work, so Lizzie became Megan, another name that feels to me very approachable. Jon was always the name of Beth’s husband. Flo was the name of their daughter until a friend helping me with research pointed out that her husband and daughter had the exact same names. What was my subconscious doing? I hadn’t even noticed. So Flo became Ella.

What’s in a name? The answer is: plenty for a writer.

About With a Friend Like You

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Beth is a woman in supreme control of all aspects of her life and family, with a stellar career and her house an oasis of calm. Her closest friend, Megan, is very different; somehow she swims through the chaos of her family with ease, the clutter on the stairs, the cat footprints on the kitchen work space. And while they could not be more different, Beth and Megan have a genuine friendship built on years of laugher, tears and true understanding of each othersa’s strengths and weaknesses. Because that’s what friends do, isn’t it?  But when Beth’s daughter reveals a surprising secret, a wedge is driven between Beth and Megan. What begins as mild recrimination and misunderstanding develops into a full-blown row and then a simmering feud. As the two women square up to do battle in the London suburbs, there’s everything to play for. All’s fair in love and war…

With her wisdom, insight and wicked humour, Fanny Blake shines a light on to female friendships, in this delicious tale of two so-called best friends.

With a Friend Like You (Orion) and The Secrets Women Keep (Orion) by Fanny Blake are both out now

Thank you so much for visiting today Fanny!!

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