Authors: Alleen Pace Nilsen and Don L.F. Nilsen
This is one off my shelf. I bought it awhile ago but haven't gotten to it. I've often had students ask me about the intentionality of authors when they name characters. When I've attended readings by authors, that question is often asked also. Some authors don't name their characters until well into the writing and as the personality develops. Other authors state that the character just existed, and the author just wrote down the story. I was finally prompted to pick up this book because of finishing The Hunger Games and I was impressed with the author's ability to use names to foreshadow and extend the depth of characterization. Katniss – an edible water plant that is known for arrow shaped leaves. Rhue – or rue, to regret or be sorrowful. Peeta – close to pita bread, which reminds the reader of his origin. And, although Haymitch doesn't seem to have an origin, I kept thinking “hayseed” which is slang for a bumpkin or a yokel, which in the beginning, he certainly seems to be. There is a nice summary of names in Hunger Games here: Name Meanings.
The Nilsens had the honor of interviewing Robert Cormier many years ago about his use of names in novel such as The Chocolate War, I Am the Cheese, and After the First Death. This interview turned into an article, which turned into a book. Although the book isn't hefty, there's a lot of interesting tidbits, which are even more interesting for anyone who as read the authors the Nilsens highlight such as: M.E. Kerr, Gary Paulsen, Louis Sachar, Francesca Lia Block, Karen Cushman, Gary Soto, Nancy Farmer, Orson Scott Card, and Ursula K. LeGuin. In many cases, the Nilsens have communicated with the authors directly, plus they link historical naming trends and facts to how the authors selected names.
There is a preview of the book here: Names and Naming in Young Adult Literature
Although a bit old, here is Alleen Nilsen's YA BookPage