In a word?
Today I remembered something my mother said to me, or maybe it was my sister, or my distant cousin from my father's side. I babble. Back to the point...someone asked me "How do you come up with these names?"
The question is easy to blow off with a "they just come to me" but in truth, there is method to my madness.
When I think of naming a character, the first thing I do is think of what I want to name the character for short or if I want a short name at all.
Let me take a new WIP I'm working on. It's a mer-folk book and I wanted the heroine's name to flow as if through water. Not hard consonant to gum up the works but soft, watery sounds. I came up with Aeraeeania (Pronounced Air-uh-ee-on-ya) and I call her Aera (Air-uh like Era).
But what about non fish-folk? What is my criteria for them?
First, I don't want a name that is common. No Jennys, no Brittanys, no Emilys, no Julies. Why?
Well this might sound ridiculous to some but... I don't want someone to put my book down because the name of my heroine, is the name of their exes new girlfriend, or the name of the 20-year-old their husband just cheated on them with.
On the flip side of that...my sister, Rachel, will pick up a book if the heroine's name is Rachel so maybe I'll lose out on that dollar.
Nah. I've come up with a hybrid!
When I pick a name that is popular I spell it different or mix two names together.
For my erotics, written under this pen name, I have two WIPS in the works. The heroine for my space opera, Maiden Voyage, is named Lilene. (A mixture of Lillian and Marlene.) In my M/M/F shifter story, my heroine's name is Jayna. (A mixture of Kayla and Jane.)
What about men? I give less thought about male names than I do women names. Oddly enough, given what I know about relationships and women (and being a good listener over the years)...we'll torture ourselves by buying a book with our exes name in it. Very rarely do we hate enough to put a book down but even then, we eventually "forgive" the name. (Okay, maybe not ALWAYS.)
Now if a fellow woman does us wrong... FORGET IT. That name is doomed for all eternity...or until we find a woman with that name that becomes a good enough friend of ours to negate the negativity surrounding that blasphemous name.
You may or may not agree, but this is my theory and therefore, why I "come up with" the names that I do.