writing

Bookish namesakes

Rose by any other name CupcakeA little while ago, I had a Twitter chat with a few authors about book characters who share our names. (My conversation was with Keris Stainton, Susie Day and Tamsyn Murray – all here on Girls Heart Books! *waves*) It started when Keris spotted a character called Cerys in one of Tamsyn’s novels, My So-Called Phantom Lovelife. Of course, Cerys was unrelated to Keris, but it got me thinking.

A name like mine doesn’t crop up in many books, which is maybe why I really notice when it does. I read a novel called Dancing in the Dark by Peter Prendergast – a brilliant and moving book about grief and standing up for yourself.Dancing In The Dark by Peter Prendergast Unfortunately, the meanest character in the story was called… Louisa.

From the moment Louisa swanned onto the page and was described as ‘obnoxious’, I knew she was a person unworthy of sharing my name. I squirmed when she got up to her mean tricks. I thought: That’s not L(o)uisa-ish! I’d never do that! She was a great dancer (which I’m not, unless you count waving at the Wii) but that didn’t really make up for her horrible behaviour. I started wondering about the nastier characters I’ve written myself. When I met a lovely girl called Chelsea, I apologised to her about the Chelsea in Split by a Kiss, which she’d read. She assured me she didn’t mind – phew!

Also, imagine if your name AND surname appeared in a book? There’s probably a Josie Reilly or a Rachel Glassman (from Split/Swapped by a Kiss) out there somewhere. There’s maybe even a real-life Lex Murphy (from Kiss Date Love Hate), and bearing in mind that I deliberately named her after the girl in Jurassic Park, that’s two namesakes for the price of one. I wonder…

Have you ever read about a character who shared your name? What did you think of your fictional namesake? Do you find characters with your name tend to be a certain sort of person? And if you haven’t shared your name with a book character, would you like to? What would this character be like? There may be authors listening… 🙂

Letter From Luisa by Rowena MohrMeanwhile, I’m off to order a book called A Letter from Luisa by Rowena Mohr. I looked it up on Goodreads and the blurb says, “Luisa can’t understand how she lost control.” Now that’s more like it!

(Taking control… cartoon from XKCD)

XKCD cartoon Angular Momentum Angular Momentum from XKCD

“A rose by any other name would, ahem, taste as sweet?”
Single red rose cupcake image (top, left) – Some rights reserved by Angelina Cupcake

56 thoughts on “Bookish namesakes

  1. Yay, I’m the 1st one! (Again)
    I haven’t read a book with my name (Hikma) in it, but if there was, I’d like my name to the main character of the story, someone kind and funny, but someone who is strong about people’s rights. Oh I wish it could be…….
    (hint hint)
    My name means wisdom, so you could do something about that (hint hint)
    Like “Memories, Wisdom and Cupcakes” or something.
    I read a book called the “Time Witches” I think, and the main character was a girl called Abby (Abigail) and from then on it’s been my favorite name. I don’t know why, because it’s not even my favorite book or anything.
    I suppose I liked her character.
    So for any Abigails out there, there’s a book with your name on it. (Literally!)

    • Hello Hikma, my wife expecting a girl..and we have finalized this name as Hikma. so tell me about your personality, do you think this name really effects on your personality? Can you do your work with Hikma…are you really really intelligent?

      • Yeah-I think it does.
        My mum named me Hikma because it was a name she really liked and something she always wanted to call her daughter if she had one.
        My teachers say I’m quite smart but I’m quiet as well. There are about five people in our class who are really brainy and I’m one of them so……
        Oh and I love reading books-that’s probably how I’m quite brainy-books help you learn about the world around you.
        I have a friend called Ilma (knowledge) and she’s kind of brainy…
        But I think I get my Hikma from books.

      • [This post has been edited by GirlsHeartBooks]
        Thank you for replying. i love this name too and am doing lots of research about this name…

        Hikmah is an Arabic word meaning wisdom. Hikmah is important to Islamic philosophy.

      • Salaams Raheel – your research about the name ‘Hikma’ is very interesting and you’re right, it is a very beautiful name – but please may I use this opportunity to ask that ALL adult men who find find this site DO NOT engage any of the girls in direct conversation. Unfortunately, the internet can be a dangerous place and it is our duty to protect girlheartbooks readers.Thank you for your understanding Raheel and inshallah, your wife will be safely delivered.

        Hikma – you answered well. But never feel you have to reply – especially if you don’t feel comfortable.

        To all readers: Remember basic internet safety and never give out any personal information (such as your full name, address, phone number etc.)

  2. There was one Stardust Spirit with my name, Laura. (Linda Chapmans books)

    She was a Spring Stardust Spirit. She had great control of her powers and, i really liked her. I wish there had been more about her in the books but, there was’nt. I’m not going to even ask Linda beacuse, all of her books are amazing so, yeah.

    I’d like a person with my name in a books again, someone kind and thoughtful to others who chases her dreams. 🙂

    Brillent post by the way! xxx

  3. My name is Katie so it pops up EVERYWHERE! I always remember reading ‘The Suitcase Kid’ and the enemy being called Katie. What is even worse is that my full name is Katie Holmes which isn’t just the name of a character but the name of a real living famous celebrity!

    • Ooh, interesting, Katie! I know some other people who share names with celebrities. I think that must be an odd feeling, to read about a namesake in a paper or gossip mag!
      Thank you very much for your brilliant comment.

      • P.S. I’ve also just remembered that Josie from Split by a Kiss is called Katie in the Netherlands – in fact, the Dutch translation of the book is titled “Katie’s Keuze”. So I’ve sort of written a book about you too! 😉

  4. I like your name, Orli, and I expect a few writers on he are now thinking, “Hmmmmm…that’s a good, unusual character name…’ 🙂

    My name doesn’t crop up in books often but there was a Tamsin in a book by Jill Mansell once. She was a really nasty character so I complained to Jill when I met her!

    • Hi Tamsyn,

      I know two fictional Tamsyns and they’re both lovely! Tamsyn in Rosemary Sutcliff’s “The Armourer’s House” (which I *wish* would come back in print), and Tamsin in Monica Edwards’s Romney Marsh books – which I think are being reprinted, but not by a big firm.

      I was hooked on Jane Eyre the minute I saw the title 😉 but there is also “Miss Jane” in Susan Coolidge’s Katy books – not so good… and I like Susan Cooper’s Jane too.

      • Oooh, I love Rosemary Sutcliff’s books and haven’t read that one. Did Monica Edwards write horsey books or am I thinking of Monica Dickens. Glad both Tamsyns are lovely, Jane – thanks for telling me about them!

        Jane Eyre is one of my favourite Janes – it’s also my middle name 🙂

      • Hi Tamsyn,

        Both Monicas wrote horsey books, oddly enough! ME’s first ones are what you might call “just-horsey” but she takes the adventure away from horses in the later books, although the horses are still around. I really like them though I suppose they have dated, rather. ME’s Punchbowl series is great too. MD wrote the Follyfoot books which I was never so keen on.

  5. I love this post, Luisa. It was really weird for me reading Tamsyn’s book because I’ve never seen my name in a book before. Even with the different spelling, every time I read it it startled me a bit. Can’t imagine how odd it would be to find a character with your full name – it’s never going to happen to me though, obviously!

  6. Oh, how funny that there are lots of sad fictional Ellas! Well, not funny… you know what I mean. 😉
    So we need a happy Ella… *takes more notes* 🙂
    Thanks for your great comment!

  7. *waves back* It was a great conversation! It made me remember being very depressed by Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven, because Susie was the annoying little sister who got locked out of all their meetings. But that is an improvement on being Susie the dog, which happens quite often too… 😦

    I hope all the commenters here know they’re likely to have their names borrowed by one of us! Writers have to come up with loads for every book, so we’re always on the lookout.

  8. My full name is Georgia, but I’ve started calling myself Georgie, because I think it’s more original. There’s a Georgia Nicolson but I haven’t read any other books which feature someone with my name!

    My favourite names are Kirsty, Hazel and Hilary.

  9. Try being a Hilary. It’s the least cool name ever and would never be given to a character aged under about 50! I was supposed to be called Naomi but my parents had a change of heart. Much better name! I used it for the main character in Loving Danny. Great post Luisa! X

  10. oh i just love names and the stories and meanings surrounding them!
    my mum got my name from a book, it was the first place she read it. she read Mr God This is Anna and loved it. it’s a gorgous book and Anna is amazing. Anna pops up in lots of books, but i maining hate the characters which have my name. they’re usually boring, annoying, wimpy or whiney. which could be a true picture of me but i hope it’s not. i love the name Jaya which i got from a brigid lowry short story.
    names are the only way to summerise a person, it’s an adjective with 1000s of different meanings depending on who you know.

  11. Kinda easy to guess my name is in a book. RD Blackmore created it just for his book, Lorna Doone!! I read the book when I was 8 so bare with me but remembering back, she was a heroine- virtuous and mysterious- abducted and raised by bandits when she was young!! I love this!! She has such an interesting life!! My life is not half as interesting (but we’re not in 19th century now are we?? ;)) but I do a lot of fundraising which could be seen as interesting

  12. Brill post. I once had a mean character called Zoe in a book, and I hated it! I can’t remember which book it was, but I remember being pretty annoyed!
    When I was little, I read The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson and that had a ‘Zoe’ in too. The main character didn’t like her, but at the end he started to love – and I was a cute little baby too! Yay! 😀

    • In the Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse, there’s a girl called Zoe in it, she’s a Hunter of Artemis, so naturally she didn’t like Percy, because he was a boy and the whole Artemis-being-an-eternal-maiden-thing,
      But at the end, she sacrificed her life to save Percy and the others, and Artemis turned her into a constellation.

  13. My name isn’t very common, so I don’t really see it in books. But I think I remember a mean girl called Cliona in SOME book…I can’t remember what it was though! I would love to read a book where the main character had my name! Any ideas, anyone?!

  14. Hiii. My names isnt that unusual… its Leah, although i really like it. I havent seen it in many books, although one i got for christmas had a girl called Leah in it, and although i havent gotten round to reading it yet, im really excited to. I find myself looking for similarities between myself and the character if my names in it, and trying to plant myself in the story 😀

  15. My name is shakira. I have no books with my name in it that i know of.

    But to make it worse the famous singer is called shakira.

    so every time i go to a new school one annoying person crops up out of the blue

    amd goes

    “shakira, shakira” in a singing voice. I find it so annoying.

    sum of them think i’m dumb and say “oh do u no theres a singer called shakira” and they walk away with a amirk on their face.

    I would love an author to put my name in a book even better with my surname

    my name means thankful

    i would love my charcter to be someone kind caring intelligent and generous!

    but with an annoying sister and a hard life. I dunno i love books like that

    i’m not saying my lifes like that but i do have an annoying sister!

    p.s sorry 4 the long comment!

  16. I agree. I suppose there are advantages and disadvantages to all names, but I liked the fact that I was always the only Luisa in my class at school. In one of my jobs, though, I used to get phone calls for a colleague called Teresa sometimes…!

  17. I love using a mixture of familiar and more unusual names, myself – and what counts as unusual to one person might not be to someone else, anyway. I work at an international school, so I’m much more likely to meet a Ludovica or a Peiling or an Aigerim walking around than a Sarah or a Kate. 🙂

  18. I totally agree with Susie! And it’s so true that the same name can seem unusual to some people and incredibly familiar to others. My surname (Plaja) is so common in the part of Italy my dad’s from that I never, ever have to spell it out there. It feels like a treat after the struggles I have with it in England.

    • I get called all sorts – Tasmin, Jasmine, Yasmin, Townsend (???) and there’s a lady at my day job called Tania, so we get mixed up a lot. The spellcheck on my Blackberry calls me Damson!

  19. I recently read ‘Aphrodite’s Workshop For Reluctant Lovers’ the main character was named Rebecca.
    She was a romance novelist who loses faith in love. She was an ok representation of my name.
    Of course there is the famous Daphne Du Maurier book ‘Rebecca’ but I haven’t read that yet.

  20. When I had a proper job in a sensible and slightly snooty place, people said thinks like: “Oh, Wendy – that must be short for Gwendolyn.” But it’s not. It’s short for Wendy as in ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’ – mum’s favourite book. (Quite glad she didn’t like The Wombles or I’d have been Uncle Bulgaria or Madam Cholet)

  21. My name is a bit weird. On my birth certificate it states that my name is Catherine but since well, forever, everyone has called my Kate. Since Kate is just a shorter version, they have the same meanings. Pure, perfect. Not a bad one, ‘eh?

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