Guest Post: Writer’s Secret: Giving Characters Their Names by Victoria Pond

My Lady Gambler

  • By Victoria Pond
  • Editions: ebook
  • Published: November 14th 2012
  • Genre: Adult Erotic Romance / Steampunk / Anthology
  • A collection of erotic romance in the Age of Steam, featuring a Regency novella…

    Cara St. Cross is determined to play at the highest-stakes poker club in all of Great Britain… even if getting in requires her to dress like a man. Stanley, Lord Greenhope, doesn’t truly believe that “Mister” St. Cross has had relations with his wife, but that doesn’t stop him from challenging the (wo)man to a duel.
    In the early Age of Steam, duels are still legal, young ladies get kidnapped to Gretna Green, and only the villains seem to care whether Cara wins at the tables.
    As well as the Regency novella, My Lady Gambler, this collection includes three short stories of Victorian-style steampunk erotica:
    Miss Carlotta Stembridge crafts her own troupe of dancing automatons in “The Clockwork Dancers”. When she meets a flesh-and-blood dancer who steals her heart, she must fight society and her own creations if she wants to keep him in her life.
    In “On the Curious Condition of the Anachronism in Modern Aviation Structures,” First Mate Jess Priory of the merchant airship Aer Nova offers passage to a handsome doctor. Lucky thing she did, since his skills come in handy when the ship is attacked!
    The possibility of a time machine causes more problems than it solves in “Dorothea Franklin’s Marvelous Machine,” Thankfully, the inventor can console herself with the darkly sexy, powerful Sir George, Grand Master of the London Masons.
    ~ Bewitching BT

    Writer’s Secret: Giving Characters Their Names
    by Victoria Pond

    Thanks for having me today, Livia. Since I know you’re also a writer, I’m going to share my biggest secret with you when it comes to naming characters. Especially stuffy, English characters.

    Now, first names are pretty easy. I usually know a character’s first name, and, when I don’t, I give it a friend’s name and move on. (I currently have an ambiguously-evil bad guy named Stacy. I’m pretty sure his name will change in a chapter or two. Either that, or he’ll turn into a woman, possibly named Stacy.)

    But last names are a challenge. They’re rarely relevant in contemporary fiction, other than to give a character a chance to like/dislike a strange name or to show off ethnicity. But my most recent publication is a steampunk erotic romance collection, so all the characters are Regency/Victorian Londoners. To me, English surnames all sound the same, and when you want someone to sound more posh just put “Lord” or “Lady” at the front. For instance, Mister Chambers is probably a banker or a chimney sweep, but Lord Chambers spends time playing cards at the club and wearing silly wigs.

    So here’s my bizarre secret to last names for the English: I name them after Oxford colleges. (This may be the most practical thing to come out of my Oxford education.)

    For those of you unfamiliar with the system, Oxford University is broken up into a number of small “colleges.” A student is considered part of the university, yes, but each one is also a member of a college, where she lives, eats, and plays. In addition, undergraduates also get the majority of instruction from professors and tutors associated with their college. So colleges are a big deal… and it’s easy to remember their names.

    In my steampunk Regency novella, My Lady Gambler, the main character is Cara St. Cross. She’s got a powerful desire to play at the highest-stakes poker game in all England, which just so happens to be a gentlemen’s club. With some judicious machinery, she becomes Mister St.Cross. But, why St. Cross? Well, because StX has got a great college bar.

    I’ve also got a Captain Mansfield (of the airship Aer Nova), named for a college with a wonderful Formal Hall (like eating at Hogwarts, but more refined). There’s Doctor Wadham, a sexy inventor named for one of the more flamboyantly creative colleges. And finally there’s a Lieutenant Castell. No, Castell isn’t an Oxford college, but my own college is “University,” which wouldn’t work so well, so I picked a name of a previous Master of the college.

    Okay, maybe this isn’t a useful secret for writing stories set outside of England, but it’s sure helpful within the country, and maybe it gave you a bit of insight into the convoluted mind of Victoria Pond, who uses all tidbits of life experience to craft her stories.

    About the Author & Links:

    Victoria Pond is a professional writer on projects ranging from video games to novels. She lives in Seattle with a husband and a cat, where she sings with a Celtic band and is working on the next novella in her steampunk erotica universe.

    Website | Goodreads


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