Let me preface this by saying that the “What’s in a Name” blog was not supposed to be a two-parter. But as usual, things are beyond my control. Believe me, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
I was faced with a new character, one that wouldn’t even span the course of an entire chapter. Honestly, if I lined every character in my book up in order of significance, there would probably only be three characters less important than her. And yet, she was in need of a name.
Within the scene itself, she’s a very striking character. Almost like the female counterpart to my narrator, an adversary even. She shows up suddenly, challenges his attitudes, his beliefs, and serves as a temporary temptation. Basically, she doesn’t put up with his bullshit, which he finds incredibly sexy. So at least for this scene, this girl was important, and to give her some dignity, I had to name her.
Since I started writing my novel in early 2011, I have it stuck in my head that this is when it takes place, so I figured this 15-year-old girl was born in 1995. So I cruised the internet to my favorite name site, behindthename.com, and found the list of popular names in 1995. I scrolled past the typical names—Jessica, Ashley, Emily, Brittany, and my own name, which was #5—in search of a name that spoke to me.
My eyes stopped on #29: Madison. I liked it instantly. And not just because it was different than all of those stereotypical girl names, but because, like Jordan, the name could be either a boy’s or a girl’s. It seemed kind of perfect, to put both characters on the same level and watch them butt heads.
That would have been the end of it—the decision had already been made—but curiosity got the better of me. To the left of the list of girls’ names were the top 100 boys’ names for that year as well. I’m not sure what made me look at it at all. Some force of nature, it seemed, because then I just happened to see #29 on the boys’ side. It was Jordan. Those two names had been standing side by side the entire time, and I hadn’t even noticed. Madison was even more perfect than I had thought.
I can’t really explain why these things keep happening to me. I just kind of go with it. I’m sure someday I’ll be writing Part Three.