Names, names, names and naming

One of the trickiest things about being a parent is giving a name to your child; what a responsibility! Balancing names you like and love, or have an attachment to maybe for family reasons, and names which suit the surname the child will have, which aren’t ridiculous (however much you like them) which are easy to spell and pronounce and haven’t got hilarious associations, and which the other parent of the child accepts.

Most people only have to chooses names a few times, but as a writer it’s a continual conundrum – or at least it is to me. Sometimes a character’s name just arrives with them, and stays… sometimes they have a name but I change it for some reason (a properly thought reason, not just a random whim) Sometimes I struggle and struggle to find a character’s name, trying out different ones which don’t quite fit.

My next novel is in the final stages of editing and should be published next month, so soon I will have to think about the cover, the blurb and all the other admin type things which go along with it. However, before that I must finish my editing, tying up all the now tiny loose ends… and finding a surname for my main character. The story is of a family called Portbraddon, so that’s easy – most of them have that as their surname.

The inspiration for that came from a tiny village in Ireland, on the north Antrim coast, the most pretty little fishing village you could imagine. Their first names, just arrived, Alex, Noah, Ruby, Alison, Nick, James… for some reason two brothers are Antoine and Eduardo – maybe they had a mother from some European country, and Tyrone – maybe his mother was Irish, or maybe she loved Tyrone Power the 1940’s actor?

The main character who becomes an observer for what happens in the complicated lives of the family is a woman, and after much trauma – on my part – her name is what it was from the beginning Ismène… she was briefly Emma, then Ismae, but now she’s back to Ismène. A French name, so when I came to find her surname that’s what I was thinking of… but what? Nothing springs to mind… I don’t want anything with an ‘s’; she told her ex-husband she didn’t want his surname Masson – “Ismène Masson, a poor attempt at a palindrome” she said, which infuriated him. At one point she thought she might be marrying into the Portbraddon family, and she liked that, Ismène Portbraddon…

So a French name without an ‘s’ ‘z’ or ‘ch’, and probably not beginning with ‘n’… I’m beginning to get a list, which will probably change…

  • Ismène Baudet
  • Ismène Bourdon
  • Ismène Cortot/Courtot/Courtial
  • Ismène Regnard
  • Ismène Rodin
  • Ismène Robillard
  • Ismène Verany
  • Ismène Thibaud/Thibault/Thibaut/Thibeault

In actual fact, her surname isn’t mentioned that much, but I just want to have it in my head – and in her head too!

By the way, my featured image is of another pretty place along the north Antrim coast, Ballintoy Harbour.

If you want to read my published e-books, here is a link:


  1. David Lewis

    I have a hard time remembering names unless the person owes me money then I never forget even after they are long dead. What does that say about me?


    1. Lois

      Welcome! You can get money at theDolphin – it’s magic, you hand them a bit of plastic, they give you a couple of pints of otter or a glass of wine and £50! magic!
      Going there tonight for the quiz!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s