At some point soon people will hopefully be reading my novel. (Release date is set for September 29th. Yikes!) And, when they do, I’m sure one of the first things they’ll ask themselves is “what’s up with that name?”
My main character is named K’lrsa. (Pronounced Killrissa.) It looks a lot like consonants shoved together and I get that, but, well, that’s her name. Now, I’m not above changing a character name here or there. I’ve done it before and I may do it again. (I certainly did make an effort to have character names that started with different letter.)
But this character has always been K’lrsa and none of the reasons I heard to change it moved me enough to do so.
There was actually an editor I was going to hire to proof this book who I didn’t hire because of this, believe it or not. The editor had on their website that they would not review any books where the character names had apostrophes in them because they thought it was cliched. (That comment has since been deleted.)
I don’t know. Didn’t strike me as cliched.
Maybe I don’t read the novels that editor was referring to. I have seen names like the ones I use for the tribes in Rider’s Revenge in the Anne McCaffrey Pern novels, but that’s the only place I can think of off the top of my head.
And I never had a problem with the names in the Pern novels, so I trust in my readers to handle it in my book, too.
Also, because the setting for the book isn’t a stereotypical European setting but a milder, imaginary version of northern Africa, I figured I’d give a nod to the fact that some languages have glottal stops and other unique sounds that Americans like me don’t normally encounter. (Not that I’m going to tell anyone they need to learn glottal stops to pronounce her name or any of the other tribal names…)
Of course, I will say that I myself have actually decided not to read a book because of the character names, so I can’t really blame anyone who decides to give my book a pass for that reason.
The first time I ran into the Robin Hobb Farseer series I put it back because I thought the name Fitzchivalry was so ridiculous that it probably meant the book was, too. I thought maybe the book was a first effort and she’d moved on from there and become more original. (I’d already read the Live Ships series by then and didn’t realize they were connected.)
My mom finally convinced me to give the books a shot and boy am I glad I did. They were great! (It is HARD these days to find someone who can write 600 pages of engaging fantasy.) Think what I would’ve missed all because of a character name…
(Which should probably prompt me to go change those names, but no. That’s how the tribes work and I’ll just have to take the hit if someone decides that’s too much of a turn off for them.)