If you ask an author, I’ll bet they tell you that a rose (or character) by any other name would not smell as sweet.
We get mighty attached to names. I’ve been living, breathing and dreaming the love story in Tattoo Thief for the past four months and I simply couldn’t imagine my characters as anyone else. So you can imagine my disappointment when I learned that Tattoo Thief’s main character’s name was strikingly similar to another fictional heartthrob. Too similar.
Gavin Blakely (mine, for Tattoo Thief). Gavin Blake (Gail McHugh’s hero in the Collide series). Yikes! I might as well be naming my main character Larry Potter or Christian Taupe. In a matter of twenty-four hours, I had to rename my baby (er, hottie).
I’ve heard from nearly a dozen authors about their unfortunate coincidences, from one author who named her main character Lincoln Grey before Fifty Shades of Grey stormed the scene. Another author named her characters James and Lily (too close to Harry Potter‘s parents). So many more. Hearing their stories definitely took the sting out of it.
It was an honest coincidence, and the author behind Gavin Blake couldn’t have been more gracious. She did not insist I change my character’s name, but since Tattoo Thief is not yet released, it was a relatively easy change and I didn’t want to confuse or annoy readers with the similarity.
Many parents know the frustration of announcing a baby name before the child is born, only to get tons of unsolicited opinion. (“Tiffany? Yuck! I knew a girl in high school named Tiffany and she was horrible!”)
My husband and I braved the critics and announced both Drew and Audrey’s names very early in our pregnancy. To our critics, we remained polite but reminded them this was not up for vote. You want to name a kid, go make one of your own.
But I loved the feedback from readers, friends and fellow authors who offered a deluge of alternatives. Some were quite passionate about it, even though they have yet to meet my Gavin! In the end, I had to choose something I love and will enjoy living with for a long, long time.
I’m especially happy to keep the first name of my female main character. Her name has special significance in Tattoo Thief, both for the famous aviator Beryl Markham for whom she is named, and for the beryl stone related to this classic name.
The quote at right is from an early chat session between Gavin and Beryl. She’s so worked up about how horrible he’s been (abandoning his dog and trashing his apartment) that she lets a-hole slip. Suddenly, Beryl has a lot of apologizing to do if she’s going to keep her job!