Aplause for Marilyn Meredith and Her Latest Rocky Bluff P.D. Mystery

Ever wonder how writers choose the names of their characters? I asked mystery writer Marilyn Meredith that question and she graciously shared how she does it. Read her blog post and find out how your name can be immortalized in one of mysteries.
author Marilyn Meredith

How I Choose Names for My Characters
Actually, I have many ways to do this—and they have evolved over the years, but because I’m writing series, there are some character names I’m stuck with and might have chosen differently if I were just starting today.
I keep a collection of names. Whenever I go to a graduation I keep the program, or see a list of names in the newspaper, I save them in a special folder. When I’m searching for a name for a character, I often pick a first name from one list and the last from another. Of course the names have to fit the image of the person I see in my mind.
When it comes to someone with a certain ethnic background, I’ll go online and find baby names from that country and often the meaning of the names is there, and that helps me make a decision.
Once in a while I’ve seen an unusual first name on a checker or bag person’s name tag and written in down to use someday. I also use names that belong to people I know.
In the beginning, when I was writing the first book in the Rocky Bluff series, I named my main character, a police officer, Doug Milligan. Doug because that’s always been a favorite name of mine and Milligan just seemed to fit the image I had of this character. He’s been in every book since.
Ryan Strickland is also an on-going character, another police officer, and one who has really changed from what he was like in the beginning—a self-centered, publicity hound with low morals. Ryan seemed to fit his persona. I’m not sure where Strickland came from—maybe one of those lists I mentioned.
Barbara Bertalone is a main character in that first book and she appears in nearly all of the later ones too. Because she is a good wife and mother, a down-to-earth woman, Barbara seemed to be the perfect, uncomplicated name for her. Bertalone is her first husband’s name and I borrowed it from a friend.
Stacey Wilbur made her debut as a minor character—but she became more and more important in each subsequent book. Stacey was a popular name when I first conceived her and Wilbur was the last name of someone I knew long ago.
Felix Zachary was the only African American on the Rocky Bluff P.D. for a long while and I love his name. Not sure where I got Felix (though I think it came from a friend’s last name), but my daughter’s Blue Bird leader’s last name was Zachary and it definitely fits my character perfectly.
Abel Navarro is the only Latino on the RBPD. My son-in-law’s brother’s name is Abel and I picked Navarro from one of my lists. I’ve written many side-plots about his family with many more Latino names. Because I live and have lived in areas with many Latino people, choosing these names has been easy.

In my latest book, Murder in the Worst Degree, one of the pivotal characters is named after the person who won my last contest. You can see the details for the contest at the end of this post. When doing that, sometimes I’ve already written the book and merely find a character who would fit the winner’s name—and also has to be someone who won’t appear in another book. With Murder in the Worst Degree, I had no idea what character I would give the name of the contest winner until she appeared on the page.
What about you who are writers, how do you come up with your character’s names?
Murder in the Worst Degree: The body that washes up on the beach leads Detectives Milligan and Zachary on a murder investigation that includes the victim’s family members, his housekeeper, three long-time friends, and a mystery woman.
F. M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith is the author of over 35 published books. She enjoys writing about police officers and their families and how what happens on the job affects the family and vice versa. Having several members of her own family involved in law enforcement, as well as many friends, she’s witnessed some of this first-hand.
Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com/
Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.meredith/
Once again I am offering the opportunity to have your name used for a character in a book if you comment on the most blogs during this tour for Murder in the Worst Degree.

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