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What's in a name?

This is one of those random things I thought warranted a blog.

I was recently asked by a reader where I come up with all the names in my books. Naming characters is my favorite part of writing, because I get to steal little elements of people I didn't like in high school, junior high, my 20s, etc. and make them into meanies! Yes, I steal names. Now, this is not to say that I knew a Rebecca who was a b***h when I was in college (Rebecca is the name of the bratty chick in Dancing Queen). I actually really like the name Rebecca, it just so happens. The character name Rebecca was inspired by a totally unrelated person whose name is nothing like Rebecca, but she always made me think of the name Rebecca. Every time I used to see this person, I thought: "Rebecca!" (then did a little fist shaking action), but her name was actually ______. Make sense? Probably not.

But then, there are certain names I absolutely can't stand for no good reason at all, except that I knew someone once with that name and I never got along that well with them or they said something rude once or they hit on my friend in a really skeevy way. I'm not going to list these names--I'm not a fool--but I have recently seen these names as main characters of other books I'm reading or people mentioned in blogs or whatever, and I cringe every time. I can't even read the book or like the character because I just can't stand the name. I don't know why I have this violent reaction to certain names...my reaction is almost as violent as the one I have to something like fried mushrooms (which are so gross I can't even get into it).

What is it about names? And why can't I get over a bad association with a name and overcome it to re-associate said name with someone nice, funny, clever, sweet, whatever?

It seems really superficial, but I guess that's the beauty of writing my own books. I can name people whatever I want to name them and that's my prerogative! Oh, little thrills, you are mine!