Playing with character names

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Playing with character names

Jun. 4, 10:37am

Regarding character names in fiction:

In my first novel, The Abduction of Cassandra, I played some games with the characters' names, and I was wondering if anyone else does this. For example: The two main FBI agents are Donald Burgess and Shannon Maclean. These were simple, serviceable names, not too difficult or exotic for the reader to keep in mind. However, I named the agents after two of the most notorious Communist spies of the 20th century: Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean. (This negative connection has nothing to do with the characters themselves.) I did it simply for my own amusement. I don't expect my YA readers to recognize the names!

Does anyone else do this kind of thing? The only case I can recall was (I think) in a book by Robin Cook, in which a hospital's public address system barked out "Calling Dr. Braxton, calling Dr. Hicks." I remember rolling my eyes when I saw this; as a new father, those names were not unfamiliar to me.

Jun. 23, 1:54pm

I don't know that it counts as a joke, but it is definitely a form of play...

In my space pirate graphic novel essentially all the pirates have pirated names: stolen from factual or fictional pirates, although I do sometimes muck with the spelling a bit. The heroine is Bonnie Anne, the two male leads are Captain Blood and Silver, and it goes on from there. :)

I've sometimes thought that if I ever had enough fans it would be fun to run a quiz with actual prizes for anyone willing to track down the more obscure name references.

Jun. 24, 7:34am

Jasper fforde does this a lot. All kinds of obscure references are thrown in for fun. He used to list them all on his warren of a website, but hasn't done so for the latest books. It adds some interest for the dedicated readers.