Can a hero's name affect the way you feel about him? I have to slip in a complaint here about the hero’s name in Eloisa James’s When the Duke Returns (although I loved the book). His name is Simeon, and throughout the whole book, I kept thinking of him as “simian,” as in one of the ape family, and it really bugged me. And then I thought, maybe it’s supposed to be pronounced “Simon.” Anyway, his name bothered me and prevented me from completely adoring him.
So onto my own heroes and my own problem. I am writing a series of Intrigues about a family of three brothers, the McClintocks, which began with Circumstantial Memories and the middle brother, Ryder McClintock. Ryder—great name for a secret agent cowboy, right? The patriarch’s name is Ralph, and I decided to give all the brothers “R” names because big daddy Ralph is a bit of an egotist. Initially, the brothers were Ridge, the oldest, and Rafe, the youngest. But my editor nixed Ridge, calling it too weird. (So I stole Ridge for my hero in “Triple Threat,” my Red Sage Presents story in the Three Kinds of Wicked series. MUCH more about that later.) My husband threw out the name, Rod, and I picked that up and it passed muster with my editor. So Rafe McClintock gets his book in Jan. 2010 and Rod McClintock gets his book in May 2010.
So what’s the problem? The powers that be at HQ really loved my series and loved the McClintock name itself, so I figured I could slip in another McClintock brother book featuring...an illegitimate son of the philandering patriarch. I definitely wanted another R name for this brother, but it had to be an R name with a twist since he’s the black sheep of the family and his mother was a free spirit. So I named him River. Not only does it begin with R, it’s a name a free-spirited, gypsy-type might come up with, and my husband actually knows a 20-something guy named River who grew up in Hawaii (like my hero). Well, when I sent my editor my synopsis, she didn’t like the name River. It made her think of River Phoenix. Even though she liked River Phoenix, she didn’t want the comparison to be there.
OK, back to the drawing board. After much back and forthing, I decided on Rio (which means river in Spanish!). I figured I could make the free-spirited mom Latina, and since the other McClintock brothers are blondish/brownish, I could make Rio the true black sheep of the family by giving him sexy dark coloring (see picture above for insipiration). I have not passed this by my editor yet, as I’m working on Rafe McClintock’s book right now. Generally, she doesn’t like “weird” names, so I hope Rio isn’t too weird for her.
So what do you think? Should I stick with Rio McClintock? I also thought of Riley McClintock, but it sounds too much like Ryder, the middle McClintock brother. Any other R names you like for heroes? Any hero names make you cringe (like Simeon)?