If you are as into the Broadway show Hamilton as I am, you know the next lyric is “Alexander Hamilton. My name is Alexander Hamilton.” And it’s the perfect intro for this amazing character and show. You can’t get more dramatic than that.
Of course, when Lin Manuel Miranda was creating and drafting the songs and the show, he already had all his character names.
If you ask any author, other than thinking of the title for their works, naming characters is up there on the list of both hardest things to do and favorite things to do. And one of my favorite questions I’ve received about THE STAR HOST is how I came up with character names. Well here are your answers. (Note: All answers eventually lead back to my college days which I find hilarious.)
Asher – This is probably my favorite story. One of my favorite movies of all time is Army of Darkness starring Bruce Campbell. When I was a freshmen in college and I had joined The Sci-Fi and Fantasy club (Skiffy from here on out) one of the first movies we watched as club that year was Army of Darkness. I had heard all the jokes about boomsticks, but I hadn’t seen the movie. And all I knew of Bruce Campbell was Brisco County Jr. (Seriously, great show. ahead of it’s time. go watch it.) So when the movie was voted in for viewing, I stayed to watch. IT WAS AMAZING. And the first line of the film is, “My name is Ash, and I am a slave.”
Fast forward to 2015 when I’m plotting and writing THE STAR HOST. I know that the second main character would be introduced in a dungeon and would basically be a political prisoner. And I thought of that line from Army of Darkness. And I immediately knew I had to name the character Ash. Instead of naming him Ashley, like from AoD, I went with Asher. And while Asher never says he is a slave, every time of think of that intro, I laugh.
Ren – Ren’s name came from a bunch of different places. I knew I wanted a short name and I was stuck on names that began with “R” for a while. There’s a terrific series from the UK called In The Flesh and there is a character named Kieren – but one of the other characters calls him Ren. And I loved it. It showed an intimacy to their relationship, so that name had been floating around in my mind for a while. But before I began writing, I was pregnant with my third baby – a boy. My husband and I had kicked around a few names and I kept returning to Ren, Renny, Emerson etc as potential names. My husband vetoed all of them and we ended up going with Remy. Which I love. But Ren was still kind of there in my head. So when I sat down to start writing, the name was there, and originally it was a placeholder name, but I grew to love it so much. To me – Ren could be a nickname from his brother, or a family name, or anything honestly. And I thought it fit his simple duster life.
Rowan – Again, a college name. I first encountered this name as the first name of one of my professors. And I loved it. I thought it was so unique. The first time I even thought of her as more than “Asher’s sister” was when I was already about halfway through writing the novel. I wanted to give her a strong name but also something unique and also would complement her brother’s name.
They have the last name of Morgan. Which is also something that makes me laugh when I refer to Rowan as Captain.
These are just three of several characters who appear in THE STAR HOST. If you’ve read the book, who is your favorite? Or which name would you like to know more about? If you are a writer, how do you come up with the names for your characters?