As the founder and CEO of BabyNames.com, names are extremely important to me. I put a lot of thought into naming my characters in Town Red. Names and the subject of naming even crop up as part of the story…
Ryan Doherty – I wanted Ryan’s name to reflect his Irish heritage, but didn’t want it to be too obvious. I chose the name Ryan because it was a popular name around the time he would have been born–not just for the Irish, but in U.S. boys, in general. Doherty is a solid Irish surname, one without the traditional (and cliché) O’ family prefix.
Catharine Lulling – My great-grandmother was named Catherine Lulling and her mother was also Katherine/Katerina Molitor Lulling. I’ve always thought the name was beautiful and ultra-feminine. To honor the real Catherines, I chose to use it for my main female character. The surname Lulling is also a verb, meaning “soothing.” I believe it evokes the feeling of peace, calm and grace, Catharine’s main characteristics.
Matthew Di Santo – I wanted Di Santo’s name to reflect his Italian heritage, but like Ryan, have a first name that is common for all boys in the U.S., despite ethnicity. Di Santo’s surname means “of the saint.” Di Santo may be 10 years younger than Doherty, but he doesn’t have a problem keeping his partner in line.
Sgt. Bob Besko – Sergeant of the homicide detective squad. Besko is named after my own favorite boss, Lois Beskin. Lois gave me my first job right out of college, at the American Cancer Society. Lois passed in 2003.
Todd Elliot Spanks – Main suspect. Ryan’s partner, Di Santo, constantly teases Todd Elliot when he finds out the man dropped his real surname: Spanks. Di Santo uses it in the interrogation as a technique to provoke him.
Hank and Duke Lulling – Catharine’s 19-year-old twin sons Hank and Duke tease each other at the dinner table over their formal given names, Henry and Danté.
Jane Steffen – Assistant State’s Attorney. Jane has issues about being taken seriously as a prosecutor. Because of this, she dresses in oversized business suits and wears minimal makeup and has earned the nickname “Plain Jane” in the department and the SA’s office. I chose Steffen as her last name because it sounds “stuffy” and has a harsh sound to it. Jane has a little crush on Ryan, but she won’t admit her feelings until book #2.
Tootie – Di Santo says his sister is dating some guy named Tootie (his real name is Tony). Names can be an easy way to interject comic relief!
Jonathan Lange – Jon Lange is Doherty’s former partner and best friend who was killed. Jon was named after my best friend, Joanne, who passed in 2001. Ryan hears Jon’s voice every now and then, most often in stressful situations. He doesn’t know if it’s a memory or Jon’s spirit. That being said, I’m sure you can figure out why his surname is Lange….
~ jam ~