A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

a little girl smelling a big red roseI have a thing about names.

I suspect most romance authors do, but I’m not sure if all authors get quite as obsessive about the naming as I do.  It’s not just the sound of the name I get stressed about, you see.  It’s the meaning and the history and the etymology of the name I get all worked up about, too.

Names have histories and meaning, and I’m a history nut.

When you start working out how a character might have come by their name, then you also start figuring out really neat things about that person and suddenly they’ve got a history and a background and their personality comes together.

It’s so much fun when you start building a name and a character from scratch.

Adrian Romanus Xerus, one of the heroes in Blood Stone, is a Byzantine born in 15th Century Constantinople.  “Xerus” is a name that was in use in 15th Century Constantinople.  “Romanus” is a name that I plucked straight out of ancient Rome.  I wanted his family to pride themselves on their Roman roots, which many of the Byzantine families prior to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks did.  “Adrian” is another cosmopolitan name that was recorded as being used in Constantinople in the 15th century, although it is not Byzantine  – it’s Germanic.  His family would tend to identify him by the less “foreign” sounding name, the one that added lustre to the family roots:  Roman.  And so Roman’s character was established and began to grow.

Calum Micheil Garrett, the other hero, has a name that becomes meaningful within the story itself.  This is the other way  I use names and their meanings.  You can read an excerpt on the book’s page where Garrett’s name comes into play – for the first time. Later on in the story the heroine, Kate, gets to decide which of Garrett’s two names is the one she is going to use for herself.  I won’t spoil her decision, but Garrett makes an observation that rounds out his character a little more:

“There isn’t anyone I know who calls me anything but Garrett these days.”

She wrapped her arm around his neck, twisting to do it. “No friends? No lovers?”

“My friends all call me Garrett. I gave up on love years ago. My heart couldn’t take it anymore.”

Nearly all of my character’s names have meanings, either within the story, or that have impact upon their character or their personal history.  Sometimes that meaning comes out in the story or sometimes I just leave the name to sit there for etymology fans to figure out for themselves.  Winter Manon Kennedy, for instance, was born on the winter solstice, in Serbia, and was christianed “Morana”, which is Croatian for the Goddess of Death and Winter.  Even the “death” portion of her name comes into play in the story.

Nial (pronounced n-eye-al) is the hero from Blood Knot, the first book in the series.  His full name is Nathanial Aquila Valerius Aurelius, which is as fully ancient Roman as you can get.  As you find out in the books, Nial is over 1,500 years old, and from Italy.  He is as Roman as you can get.  His full name has all the traditional parts:  Agnomen, Praenomen, Nomen, Cognomen.

…and then sometimes I pick names just because they sound cool.  Cyneric Pæga, the Assassin…   I did want a very old Anglo-Saxon name, and Cyneric leapt out at me going “Pick me! Pick me!” when I saw it, because the sound of it (“sin-er-rick”) is just way to close to his character.  I took it with a cry of joy.


Blood Knot and Blood Stone are part of the Blood Stone series, and both are now available.

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