I like having fun with names in my books.
Shaen Morris, from my Belle Starr series, is named for a friend who volunteered her most common misspelling. Granny Pearl from Big Teeth is named for my own maternal grandma. Big Teeth and Bitter Cold villainess Evelyn Derringer, as well as her deceased father Robert, are also monikers stolen from my family tree.
But I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun playing with names as I did in Mirrors and Magic, my latest steampunk fairytale. Here’s a quick rundown:
Neve Bianchi – my main character. “Neve Bianchi” is an Italian girl’s name and surname that literally translates to “Snow White.”
Brendan Donnelly – my “Prince Charming.” The name Brendan is of Celtic/Welsh origin and means “Prince.”
Maximillian Grosvenor – my “huntsman.” Grosvenor is a French name meaning “great hunter.” (Maximillian means “greatest”)
Bella Venezia – my evil queen. Many popular fairy tales have slightly different variations in different countries and cultures. “Snow White” is classified as Aarne-Thompson type 709. The Italian version of AT 709 is called “Bella Venezia” and is named for the character who’s the Italian version of the wicked queen, a vain innkeeper. This version of the story also features seven thieves, as opposed to seven dwarfs.
Also: her real name, “Bertha Vane” is an allusion to the vanity that is the core flaw of this character. Bertha means “bright and famous.”
Andrew Lang – As the circus’ owner and manager, this character doesn’t really have a counterpart in the original fairy tale. The real Andrew Lang was an English folklorist, famous for his “Coloured Fairy Books,” including the Blue Fairy Book, Red Fairy Book, etc.
Charles Perrault – Lang’s deceased partner and co-owner of Lang & Perrault’s Circus. The real Charles Perrault was the French folklorist credited with the most famous versions of Cinderella, Puss in Boots, and Little Red Riding Hood.
It’s fun to play around with meaningful character names like this, but it’s more important that they work in their own right. If I had named my fictional circus “Grimm Brothers Circus” it would have probably been too obvious, and taken readers out of the story.
The idea with adding these kinds of “Easter eggs” is that it’s a nice bonus that makes your readers feel smart if they figure it out. Not to bludgeon them over the head. 🙂
A writing prompt, should you desire it: a character tries to be clever, but the effort is ruined.