Author Q&A: How do you select the names of your characters?
Q: How do you select the names of your characters?
A: I give my humanoid characters names from different cultures, why make up random stuff when there's a whole world of names in my hands?
I grew up and live in a predominately white city. I'm mixed race: Filipina mother, and a white father. Being mixed, I've lived a unique Canadian experience. I also have the name of what most would assume is some random old white lady. My name has given me a lot of privileges in my life. For my fellow BIPOC, that isn’t always the case. Name discrimination is horrifically common. I could rant about these experiences for hours but there’s one that I took as a slap to the face.
It was back in high school during math class. We were solving a word problem in math. The name that the text used for the person in the word problem was Indian. Most wouldn't bat an eye, it’s just a name to make the mathematical problem relatable for those not so affluent in numbers. On that day, it had been an issue for everyone except myself.
“Miss why do they have to use such weird names? Can’t they use a normal one?” One of the boys in my class groaned. A chorus of agreement waved across the classroom. The most painful part? The teacher agreed.
I went home that day and thought to myself: all these dudes like Lord of The Rings- and the names of those characters are far from their description of ‘normal’. No one laughs at Frodo for his name. So what was so wrong with an Asian person having an Asian name?
In a made-up fantasy world, I use human names. While I grew up with the privilege of never being made fun of for my name, others have. Everyone should be able to see themselves represented in media. I could easily make up a name and jumble something together. We’re in the age of the internet, I have access to countless information. I can access countless unique names that already exist!
The story I write isn’t Dune honey, if I’m going to have some all-mighty hero save the entire universe, I sure as hell won’t be naming them Paul.