By Sue Trollip
This morning one of my favourite radio DJs was having a rant about names. One woman phoned in and he said, ‘What were your parents smoking when they named you?’ And she said, ‘I keep asking them that.’ She was not amused by her strange name, claiming that no one knew how to pronounce it or spell it and she was constantly having to correct or explain it to people. Strange is one thing, like Apple, but at least people can spell that.
Then there’s that magical chef who has four children their names are, Buddy Bear Maurice, Petal Blossom Rainbow, Daisy Boo Pamela, Poppy Honey Rosie. The girl’s names may all be sweet, and perhaps by the time she’s old enough the world will be ready for a woman president called Petal, but I’m just not sure about a hero named Buddy Bear. I gave this some thought then pondered on the words of their mother, Mrs Oliver, who quite rightly said in an interview, your children’s names are no one else’s business.
Having a rather traditional name I longed in my younger days to be someone more exotic. Choosing names for my characters is one of the things I love most about writing and I discovered early on that it’s not that easy. I sometimes go with names I’d have liked for myself, or names of people I admire and some days, when feeling so inspired, I look around me and choose names from things that surround me. Sometimes there are flowers like Petunia and Marigold and sometimes spices like Chai and Herb. When it comes to fruits you have to be careful, but I like Berry and Olive (Is an olive a fruit?). There are plenty of country names to choose from, Kenya and France being only two and of course there are days when you need to have a hero who is proper and Victorian and then Henry or Elizabeth are obvious choices.
I considered adding vegetables to the list for inspiring names and although my niece once had a doll named Spinach I don’t know if Butternut or Bean would make anybody happy no matter what they had, or had not, been inhaling.