Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Remember When . . . Rowena Got a Name?
Since The Reluctant Duchess is barely a week old, I thought I'd chat a little today about the heroine in it, Rowena Kinnaird--or more specifically, about her name.
Sometimes, you name a character once, and that's it. Such was the case with Brice Myerston. Sure, I needed to find a reason for Brice to have as a first name something that wasn't common to English men at the time, but that was easy enough.
This heroine, however . . .
In a previous draft, her name was Constance Augusta Grant. But she had an Aunt Constance, so she went by Augusta. Only, not Augusta--Gusty.
No one but me liked this. As in, no one. (Pout, pout)
I could ignore that when it was only (ahem) all my critique partners and family who didn't like "Gusty" as a nickname (come on, y'all--I came up with that when I was 13! Obviously that means it's SUPER COOL!). I had it all figured out. Wind was going to be a subtle theme in the story. Even Brice's family home bore the Gaelic word for "Wind." (Gaoth--which, by the way, you pronounce "Gway." I know, right?) But then, when I turned in my synopsis before I started writing, my editors asked for a new name, so . . . guess who got a new name, LOL. (The wind theme is still here and there through the book. Better read it to see if you can find it, wink, wink. I even just gave you the first one!)
If one were to scroll back through the chats I exchanged with my best friend/crit parnter during the renaming process, one would have seen that I soon found all the most ridiculous and difficult to pronounce Scottish names in the world. Not that I intended to use them, but they were certainly entertaining. =) Really though, I knew what her name would be if it weren't Gusty.
I'd always loved the name. Loved it so much, in fact, that I'd already planned to use it later in the series for another, minor, character. In the previous version in which I'd already used it, there was a very important rowan tree; so someone was named after this rowan tree. But I knew I intended to name my son Rowyn if I had a boy (I was in fact pregnant with him when writing this previous version of the book), and I didn't want a character with my son's name. So the character was instead a girl, and had a similar sounding name. Rowena.
Did I want to "steal" the name for my heroine? It took me a few hours to decide. But yes, yes I did.
And so, Gusty became Rowena.
But her previous last name wouldn't work either--Grant is a real Scottish clan, which means that the Grants had a real chief and a real estate at this point in history. And I didn't want to risk maligning them with my not-so-nice chief, Rowena's father. Plus I wanted the freedom to place this clan, their home, etc. wherever I pleased. So rather than choose a real clan, I talked with my historical writers group, who advised I choose a real Scottish name that isn't actually a clan on its own. One of the ladies even offered up hers. ;-) She told me Kinnaird was a sept (branch) of an existing clan, but didn't have its own chief or anything. So Kinnaird (you say it kin-AIRD -- and roll that R, baby!) it was, with my hats off to Deb.
Overall, I love this new name much better than my old one. But yeah, I'll admit it . . . my editor caught a Gusty that had slipped into the first draft, LOL.
Evolution of other character names in the series, from first draft when I was a kid through final:
Brook Eden -- started life as Brook Moon
Justin Wildon -- has always been Justin Wildon, though his titles have changed
Regan -- used to be Megan
Melissa -- was always Melissa
Aunt Mary -- used to be two characters, actually. Aunts Lisa (nothing screams Victorian England like the name "Lisa" right?) and Marie. (I may have had a good friend in middle school named Lisa Marie...)
Deirdre -- used to be Lyddie
Douglas Kinnaird -- used to be Douglas Grant
Lord Cayton -- used to be Kent
Lady Catherine -- her name hasn't changed, but she wasn't Brook's cousin in earlier versions
Just FYI, I'm about to turn in the second round of edits on Book 3, A Lady Unrivaled. And I would just like to say that Ella has always been Ella. And she is so very Ella. ;-)