Guest Blog & Giveaway: Amanda Bonilla on naming characters & win BLOOD BEFORE SUNRISE

July 16, 2012 Giveaways, Guests 57

We are excited to have Amanda Bonilla stop by on her Darkness Before Dawn Blog Tour to talk about character names. The second book in her Shaede Assassin series, BLOOD BEFORE SUNRISE (available now by NAL/Signet Eclipse). Enter to win a copy below!

Guest Blog

What’s in a Name?


Amanda Bonilla

Thanks again to Abigail and everyone at ATUF for hosting today’s stop on my blog tour!

I agonize over the names of my characters. Sometimes I’ll stare at the screen, cursor blinking, unable to move forward until that perfect name pops into my head. The combination of first name and last name has to mesh, it has to suit the character’s personality, and as I picture the character’s physical appearance in my head, I have to know that he “looks” like a Tyler, or a Raif, or a Levi.

I get character names from lots of different places. People I know or have met, the internet (I have several baby name sites bookmarked), and my favorite place to find names is from the credits of movies and TV shows. I have found some of my favorite character names in movie credits. J

But I wonder if I agonize over my characters’ names a little too much. I mean, what’s in a name?

He’s handsome, dangerous, alpha of his pack. A werewolf to be reckoned with. Assassin by night and mild-mannered businessman by day, he rocks a tattered pair of Levi’s as well as an Armani suit. He’s fluent in six different languages and makes women swoon with a passing glance. He’s Eugene, the alpha werewolf. Would you swoon over Eugene or would you always secretly wish he had a name like Rourke, Bones, Ares, Wrath, or Declan?


How about him? Bounty hunter and mage, Leonard Furgeson. Surely this powerful supernatural mancandy goes by Leo. Leo says I’m tough, don’t mess with me or I’ll destroy you with my immense magical powers. But no, his older brother used to call him that, and he hated it. He’s Leonard. Plain and simple. As a reader, deeply immersed in this fantasy world, can you get behind Leonard, or does the name remind you of the bank manager you have a meeting with on Monday?


He’s suave. Sexy. He’s the leader of an ancient vampire coven. He wants nothing more than to bite you, turn you, and make sure that you belong to him. Forever. And his name…is Wilfred. Yep. That’s right. Wilfred. Just like your great-great uncle Wilfred. The one you sit with at family reunions as you listen to him tell stories about living in depression-era America.

Now, I’m by no means implying that these are horrible names. In fact, I like the name Leonard, and you imagine how cute a little baby named Eugene would be? Adorable! And I did, in fact, have a relative named Wilfred. But readers enjoy fantasy and sci-fi because it offers them an escape from their everyday lives. Fantasy is exotic. Exciting. Sexy. Dangerous. And sometimes, taboo. You wave at Jerry the produce guy whenever you go to the grocery store. So do you want the dark fae prince in your favorite book to be named Jerry as well? (Oh! That reminds me, I need to buy a head of lettuce!) Or would you rather he had a name that echoes his exotic personality, like, Draighean?

I know readers who don’t like to read their own names in books. It makes them uncomfortable. Others refuse to read a sexy scene where the hero shares their father’s/brother’s/husband’s name. And don’t even get me started on the ex-factor. Who wants to fall in love with a protagonist who shares a name with your lying, cheating ex-boyfriend? Some readers don’t like female protagonists who have masculine sounding names. Others prefer their MCs to not be named after an inanimate object or fruit. A heroine named Apple or Peach? It could happen.

How do you feel about character names? Is there a name that you refuse to read or makes you uncomfortable? Maybe one that you replace in your mind with something else every time you read it?

 Don’t miss a stop on the tour!

 Amanda BonillaAmanda Bonilla lives in rural Idaho with her husband and two kids. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshipper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. She loves the outdoors, black clothes, pink appliances and thinks junk food should be a recognized food group. In the summer, she can be found sitting by the lake, enjoying the view from her dock.

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Giveaway provided by NAL/Signet Eclipse
One copy of BLOOD BEFORE SUNRISE by Amanda Bonilla

Blood Before Sunrise (Shaede Assassin, #2)


Available on July 3rd 2012 from NAL/Signet Eclipse


“She needed a bargaining chip and this was it. Raif’s daughter’s life for hers. And he knew damn good and well I was right. Just like he’d assured me the night I’d killed Azriel, this was far from over. His daughter was alive, I knew it. And I was going to find her.”

For months Darian and her Shaede guardian Raif have searched for the Oracle who attempted to overthrow the Shaede Nation—and kill Darian in the bargain. But now that they’ve finally found the half-crazed Oracle, for their efforts they are granted a possibility too painful for Raif to imagine, and too enticing for Darian to ignore.

Darian is determined to reunite Raif and the daughter he thought was dead, but her mission quickly proves dangerous when her lover Tyler is almost killed. And when a brooding and mysterious Fae warrior offers his guidance—at an extraordinary price—Darian finds herself willing to risk everything. As her single-minded hunt turns into an obsession, and she and Tyler grow further apart, Darian finds herself caught between the man she loves like a brother, and the man whose love she can’t live without…

Read an excerpt

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57 Responses to “Guest Blog & Giveaway: Amanda Bonilla on naming characters & win BLOOD BEFORE SUNRISE”

  1. kara-karina

    There is one name I feel really overused in paranormal books. What’s up with every Russian romantic hero called Dmitri? I blame Vampire Academy for starting the fashion 🙂

  2. debbie

    I don’t mind old-fashioned names. What I don’t like, are common names spelled differently. It doesn’t make it a “special” name, just by making up a different spelling for it.

  3. Tobi H

    I go with whatever the author names his/her characters. There must be a reason a name is just a name. my goodness I have a boys name so you know! LOL

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    <3 Tobi

  4. daphne

    Sticks and Stones…no wait…names just another kewl dimension to a character:)

  5. Natalie Cleary

    If the name is too hard to pronounce I tend to make up my own name 🙂

  6. Victoria Zumbrum

    I don’t mind characater names as long as I can pronounce them.

  7. LisaC

    I’m with Debbie on the common names, uncommon spellings. Case in point: a character named Kehly kept distracting me from the story while I tried to decide whether it was pronounced Kelly or Kaylee.

  8. Caty R

    If it is a name I can’t pronounce or have never heard before, I make up a pronunciation that works for me or just shorten it. I wouldn’t not read a book because of a name I didn’t like.

  9. Nya

    The truth is it I love character names! Okay, I just can not opine because I still read books. :3

  10. Rebe

    As a teacher there are some names I can NEVER name my future children, lol! For that reason I have a hard time with some character names, mostly female ones, to be honest. But if the author does a great job at building the character, I’m usually able to let all that go.

  11. Amanda Bonilla

    Honestly, I’ve yet to come across a character name that I didn’t like. In Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles, a lot of his characters have Gaelic names that are really hard to pronounce. Even with a pronunciation chart in the front of the book! LOL. If I couldn’t remember how to say the name, I’d just wing it. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story or the characters at all.

  12. Viki S.

    I’m okay with names. I do think there are few that are over used but it won’t stop me from reading. And honestly if a crazy made up name is used that doesn’t flow off my tongue I will just say the first part of it in my head ;).
    Thank you.

  13. Tasnim S

    I don’t like reading names that I’ve never heard of before. For example the names in Daughter of Smoke and Bone sound weird to me, a long with the names in the Hunger Games.

  14. Molly Frenzel

    I don’t like reading names that I can’t figure out how to pronounce. I usually say them in my head phonetically, but every time I read them the thought that I’m not pronouncing them correctly runs through my head and, yeah, it bothers me.

  15. Crystal @ My Reading Room

    I don’t usually have a problem with names, but sometimes I do when the hero is named one of my sons names (Jacob or Logan). I just kind of read over it then. I’m weird I guess, but it kind of freaks me out 🙂 And why is the bad guy in books always named Mitchell? That’s my husband’s name, just once I want a hero with my husband’s name 🙂

  16. Kerry

    I really dont have a problem with names – I like the names you have chosen! The only name I have a little trouble with is Morgan and Jake (my kids) LOL..and I can usually ignore that for a good book.

    [email protected]

  17. justpeachy36

    I don’t think there’s a name I just wouldn’t read. Most of the time I enjoy seeing what the author chooses.

  18. Marie-Claude

    I don’t have any problems with any names or any spelling….but I prefer original names.

  19. Yodamom

    As long as I can somewhat pronounce them I don’t really care. I do love names taken from Old Greek Gods and myths it adds history to the character.

  20. Amanda Bonilla

    I’m definitely a fan of historical names. Especially those of gods and goddesses. I recently sent in a short story to an editor and I cursed my choice of the heroine’s name by the end of the story because it was so hard to type! LOL! I just kept thinking I’d doubled my work in keystrokes.

  21. Cherry Mischievous

    Q: How do you feel about character names? Is there a name that you refuse to read or makes you uncomfortable? Maybe one that you replace in your mind with something else every time you read it?

    A: Nope, an author can get away with any name with me so long as the story telling quality is good! 🙂

  22. SarahDF

    I don’t usually have a problem with names in books. Some are overused or too obvious and I just roll my eyes when I start reading, but get over it pretty quickly. Sometimes, if a name is very unusual or difficult to pronounce I will inadvertently replace it with a name that makes more sense to me. I do have a friend who will refuse to read books when she thinks the character names are riduculous.

  23. Na S.

    There isn’t a name I’ve come across that I hated. I think names stand out more in my mind if they’re bad or hard to pronounce or complete tongue-twisters. Otherwise if it’s a good or normal name I just take it as it as. I do like names that seem appropriate for the era or the personality.

  24. Natasha

    I usually just go with whatever name they use, I haven’t seen any that I have hated yet. Thanks for the chance to win!

  25. wade2121

    Names don’t bother me. But sometimes I knew how some of the made up ones are pronounced.

  26. Bethany C.

    I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a name that ‘bothered me,’ but I’m sure I’ve seen many I just don’t like. And there are more than a few names that sound really stuck up to me. If a character is named Tyler I just assume he’s going to be a colossal a-hole. That might just be me. But I do appreciate when author’s characters mean something.

  27. Carol

    I hate when the names are so weird you don’t know how to pronounce them and the author doesn’t tell you how to do it! drives me crazy! Wonderful contest, thank you so much!

    [email protected]

  28. wanda flanagan

    Im pretty easy going about names there arent any I wouldnt at least give a chance.Im a reading addict so different names do hold appeal because I dont wantto read the same names every time I turn around.

  29. AmyS.

    The only time I am not crazy about a character’s name is when it is one I can not pronounce for the life of me. I usually spend the whole book making up a name because I can not figure out what their’s is.

  30. Barb P

    I do on occasions come across a name that I have a problem trying to pronounce. That actually does bother me. I would love to win a copy of Blood Before Sunrise! Thanks for the awesome giveaway.

  31. Kt.

    The only names I have a problem with are the ones I can’t figure out how to pronounce. But since I wind up just making my own way of saying it, it doesn’t really bother me too much.

  32. Kai W.

    I just hate it when the story ends and there are no closure. Otherwise I don’t have a pet peeve about any books I read.

  33. Raelene

    BLOOD BEFORE SUNRISE by Amanda Bonilla sounds great. Wow you are busy busy busy with the giveaways. This one sounds great, good cover. I would love to win this one.

  34. Lisa Richards

    The only time I replace the same is when the author has a name I don’t recognize or it’s extraordinarily long. Then they get reduced to a nickname.

  35. Barbara Elness

    I like unusual names, but I like them to be easy to pronounce. It slows me down when I have to keep guessing how to pronounce a name, I’ll finally just make something up that works for me and move on. There really isn’t anything that bothers me or makes me uncomfortable, I just get a bit irritated with unpronounceable names.

  36. pat r

    Names: For me they have to be perfect. Match. Not unique. More unheard of… or at least not simple. They, in a way describe the unique character.

  37. pat

    The names have to be unique and precise. They WILL NOT be any type of simple!

  38. Ileana A.

    ‘Jemima’ because everytime I read that name I remember the syrup for my pancakes! 😀

  39. Michelle L.

    I have not read the books, so not familiar with any of it, and as far as any names I don’t like, none come to mind for me.
    thanks for the giveaway

  40. Amanda Bonilla

    Thanks again, Abigail, for hosting me today! I think we can all agree that as long as we’re reading a great story, the author can name her characters whatever she wants! 🙂

  41. Ren

    The most ridiculous hero name and make me giggling all the time is Samson. And the heroine name is Delilah. Double ridiculous, lol!

  42. donnas

    The only names I tend to replace are foreign versions of common names like Michael, Luke, etc

  43. Stephanie MacDonald

    I LOVE READING! If there is a name that I wouldn’t know how to pronounce I usually replace it with how I think it should sound or a name that I think fits the character. My favorite name in general is Piper…

  44. Maria Pronounced Mariah

    As long as the story is good I am game. Names don’t mean that much to me.

    Thanks so much!

  45. Susan

    As long as the story is good, the names don’t really matter to me. Thanks for the giveaway.

  46. Neon612

    I don’t really have any names that bug me or refuse to read. Though with hard to pronounce/difficult to say names I shorten it down to something more manageable, usually the first letter, and only in my head.

  47. Denise Z

    I will admit I do not pay a lot of attention to character names. It is the charters themselves that I enjoy and become attached to regardless of the name. However, I do become annoyed with names that are so obscure that the pronunciation is next to impossible to pronounce or remember the spelling. I would rather see a Bill or Joe or Mary LOL Thank you for sharing with us. I wish you the best on this release and I am really looking forward to the read 🙂

  48. bn100

    I like certain character names. I’d prefer not to have to read a book with a difficult to pronounce or weird character name.

  49. Peggy

    I love uncommon names but I do like to be able to say them .

  50. Kristia Miltiadou

    I like uncommon names. I don’t like the same names in every book! I prefer something that is competible with the character of the protagonist.

  51. Lori @ Romancing the Darkside

    I don’t really have a name I completely dislike but I would have never imagined Alphas heroes named Eugene or Wilfred. I guess that’s just because they seem like old fashioned names…but with faces like those…who cares what their names are?! Great post…thanks for the chance to win!

  52. Carrie V.

    If I know someone in real life with that name it’s easier for me to remember that character.