Imagine if Scarlett O’Hara had been named Susan. Would the famous, feisty heroine of Margaret Mitchell’s Epic Civil War romance Gone with the Wind have had quite such allure? For readers or for Rhett Butler?
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the name Susan. I even know some fabulous Susans. My point is that the name we bestow upon our hero or heroine invests that character with something more than just a convenient moniker. A dashing rake named Humphrey – no matter how gorgeous – has less chance of sweeping a divine damsel off her feet than one called Deveril.
In my opinion, anyway.
I write under two names because each one reflects a different side of my personality. There’s Beverley Eikli (a Norwegian surname that rhymes with ‘likely’) who loves to write traditional Regency Romances laced with lots of intrigue. I then created Beverley Oakley for my erotic Regency Romances.
In my first novel, Lady Sarah’s Redemption, the dead wife of my first hero was called Venetia. She was a dangerously alluring woman with serious addictions to lovers and gambling. My practical heroine was called Sarah.
Would my story have worked as well if the names of the alluring schemer Venetia and the practical, though feisty Sarah, were switched?
I personally don’t think so.
Names are a big driver in a story and their influence can go beyond what we might expect.
When I lived in the Solomon Islands a few years ago I started my third novel A Little Deception – recently nominated for an ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Award) for Favourite Historical in 2011 – with a heroine called Rose.
At about Chapter Three I interviewed two local girls in order to choose one to work with me in the house. One had a name I couldn’t pronounce while the other was called Rose. No surprise which girl I chose. It was fate.
Fanny Brightwell is the name of the heroine of my most recent Total-e-Bound release, Rake’s Honour – the first book written under my pseudonym Beverley Oakley.
Fanny was the common shortened form of Frances, popular in England until not too long ago, but I’m told Fanny is not a name Americans call their children. Fanny was also the name of one of my favourite Enid Blyton characters whom I was sad to discover was renamed Franny in the new edition of The Magic Faraway Tree I recently read to my daughters.
Again, it reinforced the power of a name. It was difficult to re-imagine the politically or politely-correct ‘Franny’ as it seemed like some of the magic of my childhood had been sanitized to pander to someone else’s value judgments as to what is acceptable in a name, today.
If William Thackeray’s Becky Sharp (who inspired my Fanny Brightwell heroine) was renamed Bessie because there was some modern connotation with Becky, the book would feel completely different.
So a name is more than just a name. It’s a whole bundle of perceptions and memories and preconceived ideas, depending on how you approach it.
And my Fanny Brightwell could not have been the same feisty Regency wench if she’d been called Franny.
Below is the blurb for Rake’s Honour.
Miss Fanny Brightwell has just two weeks to find a husband that will fulfil her mama’s marital criteria or she’ll be forced to marry the loathsome libertine, Lord Slyther.
That means two weeks to convince dashing Viscount Fenton she’s his perfect bride.
Battling spurned suitors, jealous debutantes and a peagoose of a sister on the verge of destroying the Brightwell reputation, Fanny has little time to make her handsome lover her slave in passion…
So he’ll make her his wife.
You can read more about Rake’s Honour by visiting my website: www.BeverleyOakley.com or buy the book at http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=1503.
About the Author:
Beverley Oakley (aka Beverley Eikli) wrote her first romance novel when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page (p550!) was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.
Throwing in her secure job on a metropolitan daily four years later, she travelled to Botswana to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta. There she met a handsome Norwegian bush pilot.
Beverley resumed her romance writing career in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the aforementioned handsome Norwegian bush pilot (who is still just as handsome) and once again called Africa home.
Seventeen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s during low-level survey sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap (part of the only husband/wife team in the business), Beverley is back in Australia living a more conventional life with her husband and two daughters in a pretty country town an hour north of Melbourne.
She writes traditional Regency Romance as Beverley Eikli and sensual historical romance as Beverley Oakley. Her next release, Lady Lovett’s Little Dilemma is due out on July 2, while an erotic English-Civil War romance is due out as part of an anthology on July 16.