Friday, September 23, 2016

Puns and Names and other low forms of humor

I enjoy puns. Not too many of them at a time, because it gets tedious, but those little, sly puns that are accidents or semi-intentional or little sideways throw-away jokes.

I also like giving my characters names that mean something. Sometimes with these French books, I give them names that mean something when pronounced in English, or sound like something else.

Most of the time, though, I go through lists of French names until I find something I like. Last names are from 17th century censuses or from place names. I need something a two- or three-day ride from Paris. How about... Bures!

In the Châteaux and Shadows series so far, all the stories have had one of the de Cantière siblings as a protagonist. That one, I chose on purpose: de Cantière leads to the same root as canticle or chant or chanson. After all, the first scene that popped into my head of Indispensable was of the comtesse Aurore singing in a village square. (And Aurore is, of course, the aurora, the light before dawn, the northern lights. She's very light.) Dominique is more for this guy I had a mild crush on in high school, Dominic. And another male friend named Dominique. Dominion. Dominant. (But not, you know, Doms and Subs. It's not that kind of book.)

Her brother Henri (who gets a novella with the love of his life, Marcel, due out early copy PDF available now that the galleys are signed off on. So hit me up. Anyway. Ahem.) I chose "Henri" because it's a nice French name, cribbed from kings. I originally called the older brother Hervé, but having two names that start in He was confusing. I had to pick one of them to change, at which point I noticed that Henri, when pronounced in French, sounds quite a bit like "ornery" when said in certain American dialects. "awn-ree." Henri is pretty ornery. (And Hervé is now Cé favorite Hufflepuff. RIP.)

Emmanuel in The Chevalier is named for this guy I once knew and for one of my husband's nephews. I always liked the nickname Manu. Man. Manufacture. He's with Catherine the Great. And she's catty.

And now I'm on Melisande. (I should have named her Mariane for the girl in Le Tartuffe, since that's the Moliere play I'm winking at this time. I can still rename her...) I've named her sperm-donor father d'Yquelon. Yquelon is a city in the north of France. I bet there was even a noble with that as his name. But doesn't it sounds like "dick"? Not really? Sorry, it sounds like my French husband getting mad and calling someone a "deeck."

But I still don't know why I keep naming bad guys Bertrand and Bernard and Albert. They're bears? I can't bear them? I know a French Bertrand and he's a pretty nice guy. So this is some subconscious thing.

So what do you think of names? How do you choose them?

Read my fabulous name choices here:
Indispensable Wife
Honorable Officer

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