Monday, October 26, 2015

Where Do You Get Your Names - A Discussion with Steven L. Shrewsbury, Author of Born of Swords

Steven L. Shrewsbury's Born of Swords Virtual Tour

Please welcome Steven L, Shrewsbury today! 

 He is talking about how he comes up with character names!!


Oft times in fantasy books I come across a name I can’t pronounce, or recall later in the work for that matter. While I think the brain has a tendency to make up one’s own usage of such words (like when reading a Russian name…just fake it in your head, there won’t be a quiz later) I always remember that when selecting names for my own works.

That said, not everyone in my books is named Bill or Tom. It isn’t necessary to challenge the reader with a Welsh variation every time, so I do tend to seek out a name that sounds cool, and is indigenous to the region. Confession? I oft consult a baby name book (or site) for that area of the world, for a name buried in the culture not of common means. Sometimes, though, one mixes and matches. When writing PHILISTINE I found the name Abbas on a list and ended up marrying it to the name Absalom from the Bible…thus Absalom Abbas, the Widowmaker in another work formed. Cool sounding name. It works.

Many times I insert the form of a person I know and then change the name at the end of the book. It’s fun and inspiring for different reasons. At other times, a bizarre method of that real name is used, backwards, a letter off in the alphabet, etc. So, if I hear a jaded author that loathes me used me as a template for a cracker assed cracker that get killed in one of their books, one might end up as the three breasted priestess of Moloch and get their skin peeled by a demon. It’s all good in the end. It isn’t really personal, just a humorous way of creating.

Oft times characters volunteer, they walk into the work and wave, thus they breathe. Their names POP in like magick. Their names are already on them and it is obvious…weird really. That’s when one wonders about what lurks in the nooks of the mind, but I digress again.

Sometimes, I’m stuck and oft times as of late, I write to my Girl Friday and say something like, “Could you name this person? They are blah, blah and blah.” And I get a reply of, “I’m on it!” and within a few minutes I have a list of names. It’s ‘mazing really. It often helps to have an extra set of ears to know if a name works or not. If one has pre readers (or is that a beta reader nowadays?) it can help to see a glaring problem a jaded writer will miss after many trips through a manuscript.

I also find not using the same letter of a name over and over helps my simple mind separate things, so I figure it is better on the reader.

Gorias La Gaul is named after the spear of Celtic god Lugh of the Shining Spear. Gorias, different kind of name. La Gaul? Just sounded good. My one armed confederate raider, Joel Stuart is based on the real one armed confederate raider, Joel Shrewsbury. If one uses a real historical persona, like I did with Goliath or Bedford-Forrest in HELL BILLY, I oft surround them with realism, like Abimelech in PHILISTINE, the unnamed shield bearer from the Bible…or Woody, a drunken ex-soldier to Forrest, who would go places the former General never would. Through their eyes one can see the rest of the world one works in and thus, give the reader a good view of the tale.

If I can impart any advice it is to keep naming simple and easy for a casual reader to follow. If one thinks they are bloody brilliant and want to go all jolly on names, good luck. Keep it simple, stupid…good motto to follow.

And, know what you are talking about. Chinese guys named Jamal are silly. A Germanic barbarian named Pedro is also ridiculous. Read. Research. Get a Girl Friday smarter than you are. Check your ego. You might not be the brightest star in the literary firmament. More than likely you are the blinky assed bulb on the Christmas tree string that will annoy the crap out of folks, so do your homework.

Have a nice day.


About Born of Swords: 

Deliverance will come... 

But that is another story. 

What makes a legend but the stories told about him? Interviewing Gorias La Gaul, the biggest legend of them all, is a dream come true for young scribe Jessica. Where other girls her age would swoon beneath the steely gaze of the warrior, Jessica only has eyes for his mouth, and the tales that come from it...when he takes a break from cursing or drinking. 

Unfortunately for Jessica, Gorias doesn't really have time to babysit. She's found him in the midst of an annual pilgrimage of sorts, and though he agrees to let her come along, it's not without a warning: You may not like what you see and hear. Just don't come crying afterward. 

Whether viewing past visions with magical gemstones or jumping into the fray alongside the barbarian, Jessica's about to get firsthand accounts she won't soon forget...and discover legends are far from reality, and just as far from being pretty. You wouldn't expect a youth of love and friendship from the greatest killer to walk the Earth, would you? 

These are tales of some of Gorias' earliest days, back before he'd found his swords, to a time when a dragon needed killing. Tales back before his heart had hardened. Maybe. For most men, the future is not certain and the past is prologue. For a legend like Gorias La Gaul, even the past is up for debate. One thing is for certain about these tales. They will be bloody. Such is always the way for a man... 

Born of Swords... 

Meet the Author:

Steven L. Shrewsbury lives, works and writes in rural Central Illinois. Over 365 of his short stories have been published in print or digital media since the late 80s. His novels include WITHIN, PHILISTINE, OVERKILL, HELL BILLY, BLOOD & STEEL, THRALL, STRONGER THAN DEATH, HAWG, TORMENTOR and GODFORSAKEN. He has collaborated with other writers, like Brian Keene with KING OF THE BASTARDS, Peter Welmerink in BEDLAM UNLEASHED, Nate Southard in BAD MAGICK, Maurice Broaddus in the forthcoming BLACK SON RISING and Eric S. Brown in an untitled project. He continues to search for brightness in this world, no matter where it chooses to hide.

Author Links

Tour Schedule and Activities: 

10/26 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post 
10/26 Man's Midnight Garden Review 
10/26 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Guest Post 
10/27 Azure Dwarf Review 
10/28 Book in the Bag Interview 
10/30 WebbWeaver Reviews Guest Post 
10/30 Sheila's Blog Guest Post 
11/1 Dice Upon A Time Top-Tens List 

Grab Your Copy:

Amazon Link for Born of Swords 

Barnes and Noble Link for Born of Swords 

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