Photos - the South Downs, West Sussex, and an example of a flint cottage. Both are mentioned in the book.
When I started writing my novel set in 1985, I chose the first name that came up for each of my characters. But as I continued to write the first draft, my feel for each character changed, and so the names started changing.
I found it easier to choose names for the male characters., unless the man was married and his name and surname had to fit in with that of his wife. So Charles Green had to be compatible with Felicity Green, his wife who was very much upper class and establishment. Shades of green also relate to the springtime being described.
Mike Upton went from Gerald to Mark before becoming Mike. Tony was preceded by Philip and before that, James. His surname of Carter did not resonate well with Philip or James, so it had to be Tony..
Edward Wishbone, from an established upper class family had to have an Edwardian Christian name, so Edward was ideal but because he had a difficult side to him, his surname had to reflect that by being less than serious.
I had a lot of problems choosing a name for the husband of the protagonist, Moira. He was to be a second generation migrant to Australia, of European extraction, with a name that suggested a dark side. I went through various nationalities but settled for Italian. Then came the list of Italian names that would complement Moira. Each time I chose one I would return to writing the manuscript and continue using it until it felt inappropriate. For example, Antonio and Luigi were finally replaced by Guido.
With the women characters, once I established Moira, (after trying Catherine and Penelope) a strong two syllable Christian name. Finally, I found an Italian surname, Capaldi, that would fit both Moira and Guido. I was well on the way with my list of names.
Scarlett began as Sarah and then Felicity; but these delicate names were not strong enough for what emerged as a colourful personality.
My character of non British origin presented problems. She had escaped from Yugoslavia before it was broken up into Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and so on. For a time her name was Vini, which began to feel uncomfortable once I continued with the writing. Then it changed to Zeta for some time, and even Draghana, which finally brought up the images of dragons for me. Eventually Zara won the battle of the names for her character.
Liz Curtis is living in Australia and the casual Liz contrasted with Elizabeth, Lady Allthorpe, living in posh (in those days) West Sussex.
All my names were accepted by the editors, except Lolita because of its associations with the book written by Vladimir Nabokov.
It was always the return to the manuscript, the story, the action, the conflicts that tested the timbre of the name I had chosen. An interesting experience.
by the way, West Gidding is a fictitious name for a village I once spent time in. The other place names surrounding West Gidding are all genuine names.
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