I am Brazilian born and raised, of American parents. I live in Sao Paulo with my third husband and children. I studied at the American school in Brazil, in boarding schools in Switzerland and the US. I have a BA in English Literature from FIU. I published a YA trilogy in Brazil and another YA novel in Turkey in 2001, now in its fifth edition. My passion is history and spiritualism. Besides Veiled Mist, I have another YA novel, Fallen Ruler, being released soon.
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A Guest Post From Eleanor: Names – How to pick them.
Picking names for characters can be fun. I don’t have a specific method and when I wrote my first novel, which took place on another planet, I invented most of the names by playing around with sounds. I had rows and rows of post-its on my walls with possible names to be used. Just letters thrown together, some sounded exotic or nice, others mean and some simply didn’t work.
The funny thing is that some of the names I thought I invented actually existed in languages I had never heard. And sometimes, they popped up in the future. One of the main characters from my first novel was called Niva. A few years after the book was published there was a Russian car called Niva. Unfortunately, the car was of terrible quality. Nyx, the name I gave the main character, is now the name of a video game.
Also in this novel, I wanted to honor my two kids by using their names backwards. My son’s didn’t work, but my daughter’s did, and it sounded good for the antagonist. Gosh, I really didn’t think that one through. It took her a few years to catch on, or maybe it was her brother being a brother telling her she was a monster in my book. She came to demand an explanation. Until then, I hadn’t stopped to think what I’d done. I tried to explain that I didn’t do it on purpose, I really didn’t, as she was a very sweet child, so I didn’t have an ulterior motive. To this day I still hear, “You named the bad guy after me.”
I tried to make it better by saying that he wasn’t that bad and he became good in the third book. Nope! It didn’t fly. That is one thing I can’t take back. It’s out there. It’s set in stone. And when I release book 4, the argument will be rekindled. I tried naming a candy in my new book after her, but it wasn’t enough to make her forget my first mistake.
I learnt a valuable lesson. Now I’m more careful with names and I don’t honor anyone, or if I do, I don’t announce it, just in case. However, now I do sometimes chose some names based on people I have met or know, because of how I feel about them. Or how I perceive them.
In the last few years, I’ve noticed that in some cases, people’s personalities matched their names. Or people with the same name have certain similar personality traits. This, of course, is my opinion, and in my opinion, most of the John’s I know are kind so I used the name John for several characters in Veiled Mist.
I have never used my name for a character. I use to hate my name when I was a child. Eleanor didn’t feel right. It felt like it belonged to someone older. It wasn’t a common name and many people got it wrong in Brazil, where I’ve lived most of my life. I was tortured by it and kept asking my mother why she chose that name. Her usual answer, “Because it’s a lovely name”, only made me angrier, so she came up with a very glamorous reason that managed to shut me up. It was a noble name. She had named me after a queen. My mother loved history and she loved the French. The queen was Eleanor of Aquitaine. I was impressed. A Queen!
So now I could tell people that I didn’t have the name because of the song Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles, the only other Eleanor people in Brazil knew. They would immediately blurt out the song when I told them my name, then proceed to sing the first few lines.
‘Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been, Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door.’
No, I didn’t leave my face in a jar by the door. God that was annoying. Few ventured to another Eleanor, Roosevelt. But it was Queen Eleanor that I proudly stuck with. Although no one really knew who she was either. Only when I went to college, and took a medieval history class, did I find out the truth about Queen Eleanor. She was a troublemaker.
At fifteen, she became the Duchess of Aquitaine, and thus the most eligible heiress in Europe. Her first marriage to the King of France she had annulled, after having two girls. She was considered too feisty and, therefore, not popular with the French court. Her conduct was repeatedly criticized by church elders as indecorous. She was always butting in on the King’s affairs and their marriage became strained. She asked for an annulment and got it.
Her second marriage was to Henry II of England, and although she gave him 8 children, she was still not the submissive type. After years of arguments she ended up supporting her sons to go against their father, France against England. She was later arrested and locked up in a tower for sixteen years because of her constant intrigues. When her son Henry died, he begged his father to release Eleanor and he agreed, but she was watched like a hawk. She outlived her husband and 6 of her children. When Richard I, known as Richard the Lionheart, became King he left her in charge while on a crusade. She signed -'Eleanor, by the grace of God, Queen of England.' I think that’s when she was the happiest. She lived to the ripe age of 80, which was out of the ordinary in the 1100s.
By the end of my course I wasn’t sure how proud I was of being named after Queen Eleanor. Although, I could see similar personality traits but very few and very faint. Minute!
I still try and tie a name with a personality when I chose names for my characters, but not always. Sometimes just the sound of a name is enough to invoke an image of the character. I don't think there is a science to picking a name. It is an adventure full of fun coincidences. Are all Johns' nice?