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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Game of the name - Kandy Shepherd

I can’t start writing a book until I get the names right—not just the human characters, but also the animal characters.
Would my debut novel LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD be quite the same without a very small dog with the very big name of Brutus? And could the little black pedigree poodle who is his illicit love be named anything but Coco?

In my new release for Berkley Sensation HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS (out yesterday!) I created a cast of quirky dogs, as the heroine Serena Oakley owns a doggy spa and day care. The “star” dog is an enormous black mutt with plate-sized paws I called Mack.
“Why’d they call him Mack? Because he’s the size of a Mack truck?” the hero, Nick Whalen asks Serena when he first encounters the dog. “That, too, I guess,” Serena replies. “But he’s got a serious fast food habit.”

Yes, Mack’s name was just right.

Nick’s dog Bessie, a purse-sized Yorki-poo, isn’t his at all. He belongs to his great-aunt, an artist. I figured the aunt named Bessie after the American artist Bessie Pease Gutmann because (in the “back story” I created for her) she had one of Guttman’s sentimental paintings of a little girl with a little dog in her bedroom when she was a girl. That information never made it into the book, but I was happy because I knew why Bessie was named Bessie.

And of course I thought long and hard about the name of Serena’s doggy day-care business. But how could I go past Paws-A-While, especially when I could abbreviate it to PAW?

Serena was the best friend of the heroine in my first book. She had a few name changes before I settled on Serena. Lucky I persisted with it because she ended up with her own book. Imagine if I had to write a whole book with a heroine whose name was a compromise because she was a secondary character in another book?

Maybe I sound a tad obsessive about names. Perhaps that stems from my own name, Kandy. It’s a common enough name in America. Not so growing up in suburban Australia. It was a very unusual name—and what kid wants to be burdened with that?

I was born in Sri Lanka, of expat parents working there for an American company. The story goes, when my mother was pregnant, she went up to visit the ancient capital of Kandy and thought it would be a great name if she had a girl. I used to wish she’d stuck with her first choice of Marguerite. But then, I guess Kandy turned out to be not so bad a name for a writer of contemporary romance!

I named my own daughter after a cat—or so my family accuses me. Lucy has al always been one of my favorite girls names. So what if I gave the name to my lovely tabby cat when I was twelve years old—and to my daughter many years later? It’s a beautiful name! (That her second name is the name of her great grandmother, great aunt and also a much-loved Border collie doesn’t really enter in to it!)

Tell me about why you chose the name of you child, pet, or even your business for a chance to win a signed copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS.

48 comments:

runner10 said...

We named our Yellow lab Sugar. Her mom's name is Honey. We named Sugar's chocolate pup that we kept Hershey. Do you think I like sweets?

Estella said...

My cat's name is Purrs-A-Lot. The name is the explanation.

booklover0226 said...

I had a Poodle named Monique. We were trying to add a bit of "class" to our household...NOT! LOL

Thanks,
Tracey D

Fiona Lowe said...

Kandy, we had a black cat calld, 'Snowy'...ironic Aussie humour! Love the cover of your book and can imagine the excitement when that box of books arrived. Hope it flies off the shelf

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Congrats on the release of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, Kandy! Isn't that an adorable shot of your kitty next to that box containing your fab book! My cat Possum has a penchant for boxes--she'd be in it straightaway!

Possum (full name Possum Cha-Cha) looks exactly like a possum, so naming her was a no-brainer. Our other cat, Pinklepurr, was named after a cat from a poem. Our Pinkie is not as delicate and dainty as his name suggests!

Can I just say you have a knack for giving your animal characters perfect names? 'Brutus' suited that lovable mutt so well!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi runner 10--from one sweet tooth to another I have to say I love your sweet doggy names!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Estelle, what a lovely name for a cat. The sound of my cats purring is one of my very favorite sounds.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi booklover0226--Monique is a classy name for a poodle--I like it!

CC Coburn said...

This is so funny, Kandy. I must've been chanelling you because last night I couldn't think of a name for a minor character, so I called her Kandy! Seriously! She'os a 60yo woman prone to chatting to much (I hope you don't recognise yourself in her) hehehe!
I do agree tho, I can't move on until I've got a name. While writing Colorado Cowboy, I needed the name of a minor character. My daughter's lovely boyfriend was handy so I asked him if I could call my character, Jasper. He was delighted!
See you in Orlando!
CC

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Fiona, being a redhead I was often called Bluey when I was a kid. Strange Australian ways...!

Thanks for popping in.

Dina said...

Hi Kandy,

Hope you rec'd my email for prev post. :)

Since I recently won from you, you do not need to include me fir this prize.

But I'll still answer, I loved my daughters names, as they looked like their names. My dog Sassy was sassy when she was alittle puppy and I 1st saw her and fit her perfectly. ;)

Mary said...

Congratulations on the new release, I can't wait to read this one. Love the pics of the animals you posted, they are adorable!

I named my daughter Elizabeth Ann..after my grandmother, my mom, my husband's mom and my great grandmother. And it fits her.

When I adopt a pet, (mostly hamster and rats) I wait and see what their personality is like before I name them.

For one dwarf hamster, we named her cuddles, because she loved to cuddle in our hands.

For a Teddy Bear hamster we named her Cinnamon because she was sweet and was the color of warm cinnamon.

For one of the other dwarf hamsters, we named her Quicksilver because she was faster than any other hamster we have ever had. She would get out of her cage and run as fast as she could.

Oh and Our last 2 rats were named Oreo- because he was black and white. And Dusty-because he was always sniffing the dust on the table or sticking his nose in the corner of the chairs and couches and then would sneeze. It was too cute.

jeanette8042 said...

My dog's name is Herb and I chose the name because I thought it was funny and cute. He looked like a wise dog hehe.

Sharon Archer said...

Hi Kandy
Fun blog! And what a great story about how you were named Kandy! Names are interesting things and I think lots of us must go through a stage where we want to be called something other than the label we have - I yearned to be a Christine or a Susan when I was at school!

We had a cat called Goon - he was inherited from another Air Force family that had been posted overseas. So while we didn't get to chose his handle, I have to confess he was named perfectly.

Congratulations on your latest release, Kandy!!! I have HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS teetering on my TBR pile and I'm looking forward to meeting the gorgeous Serena and her hero, Nick, and of course, Mac and Bessie!

hugs

Sharon

practimom said...

My 1st son is Alan James (AJ for short, or Dubee is what his younger brother calls him. i guess AJ was not short enough :)!
Alan for my hubby first and James for my dad and bro's first (even tho if he was a girl he would have been Alanna Cherry, whihc is alan for hubby and cherry for mom and sis). Then Zachary Thomas. My hubby came up with Zachary and Thomas is his bros and dad;s first name)! my dog i named, Sophie Ginger, cause is sounds cool to me.

Cathleen Ross said...

With our pets, my daughter gets to choose them so I get to name them. With our rabbits we give them old fashioned English names, which sound beautiful.
Cathleen Ross

REGINA ROSS said...

congrats on your new release. cant wait to read it.
i named my first daughter kathleen elizabeth after my husbands grandmother. i named my cat sillybilly and my dog dennis.

Martha Lawson said...

We named our Jack Russell dog "little bit" because when we got him, he was just a little bit of a thing!!

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

katsrus said...

Hi Kandy. I so want to read this book! Love the cover. I have 4 cats.
Squeaky~he squeaks instead of meows
BearBear~big long haired orange teddy bear
Charlie(tuna)~he reminded me of a Charlie
Cashew~He is the color of a cashew and he is a nut

Sue B
katsrus(at)gmail(dot)com

Linda Henderson said...

I've always loved all things Irish so I named my second daughter Erin. I also used to have a blond cocker spaniel that I called Dusty because his coat had bits of light brown so he always looked like he had dust in his hair.

seriousreader at live dot com

Denise said...

Hi Kandy! Our dog was named Duffy, after her birth mother, whose name was Buffy. Duffy was the only puppy, out of a litter of 9, who was her mother's coloring, so her mother's owners gave her a similar name and planned to keep her. But they saw how much I loved her, so they gave her to me...for which I will always be grateful.

host said...

I have a very old name that is almost extinct and I always loved it. But it was also a burden because every professor at university knew my name and I was often the person whose name they like to call out when questions were asked :)
My favourite name is Hector, since it's very uncommon in Croatia to name a person Hector I decided to give that name to my favourite cat. When he was run over by a car I decided to never give his name to another pet. Nowadays I stick with Blacky for a black cat or Gray for (you can guess) a gray cat :)

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Annie West said...

Hi Kandy,

What a lovely post. Our dog, Daisy, is so named because that's where she used to sleep during the day - on every daisy plant I'd carefully nurtured. By the time she destroyed them all the name stuck.

Congratulations on your latest release. You know I adored your first book. My daughter just snaffled your latest from under my nose (I've been up to my ears in a ms and haven't been reading) and she LOVED it. Can't wait to read it myself.

Annie

Kandy Shepherd said...

Possum Cha Cha and Pinklepurr-Vanessa, you are truly creative in you kitty christenings!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi CC, great to see you here and looking forward to catching up in Orlando.

I don't mind that you named a character in your next book after me--I'm just grateful it is a human character and not a pig!

That is not to detract in any way from your pig Louella in Colorado Christmas!

BTW everyone, I am not in my sixties (though I hope to be one day!) but I do talk quite a lot...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Dina, it's true that children have to look like their names. I know exactly what you mean.

And the same goes for dogs!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thanks, Mary, I hope you enjoy my new book, too!

The animals I have posted on this blog are Mate, my friends' dog who is one of the inspirations for Mack in HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS; and Tabitha who is my grandkitty as she is officially my daughter's cat. You would usually expect to see a tabby cat called Tabitha, not a tortoiseshell. However, my daughter loved a kitty character named Tabitha in a book and was determined to call her kitten that.

I love the names of all your pets and the way the name matches the personality.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Jeanette-Herb is a great name for a dog!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Sharon

I had to smile at the thought of a cat named Goon!

I hope you enjoy meeting all the characters--both human and canine --in HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS when it reaches the top of your TBR pile.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Practimom, isn't it amazing that you give someone a short name thinking no-one will shorten it but they do!
It's so nice to continue family names when you are naming your children.
And I agree, Sophie Ginger is a cool name...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Cathleen, I guess if you have rabbits as pets you might need quite a few lovely English names on hand...
Sorry, couldn't resist that!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thanks, Regina.
I am loving hearing everyone's family and pet names. Silly Billy and Dennis really made me smile.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Martha, I love Jack Russells and in my mind I can see a tiny little puppy named Little Bit. How sweet!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Katsrus, thanks for your nice words about BARK. It's such a lovely cover, isn't it? I love it.

I love all your kitty names, Cashew in particular is so clever!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Linda, Erin is such a beautiful name for a girl--I love Irish things too. I lived there as a little girl and have always wanted to go back. One day...
Thanks for your comment.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Denise, what a lovely story about Duffy, thank you for sharing. It sounds like she is very special.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Host, Hector is a great name--but I agree, I could never give the same name to another animal.

Color is a nice way to name an animal--as we've seen with some of the names here.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Annie, I had to laugh at the reason why you called your dog Daisy! I wonder if it is something about the scent of the plants that attracts her? I have to say, gardening and dogs aren't often a great mix!

I'm delighted your daughter loved HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. My teen daughter really likes it too, which is a great compliment.

I had letters from readers aged 13 to 90 for my first book so I'm hoping the second will also have wide appeal.

Good luck with the book you are writing, your readers will be waiting for another of your wonderful Presents.

Alison said...

My daughter is named after her grandmother. My cousin had her baby first, and I thought 'please, please don't let her pick Emily' - fortunately she went for Emma instead!

Pat L. said...

This book looks really good. I love the cover and I do enjoy a book with cute pets.

Laurie said...

My daughter's name Lara came from Dr Zhivago which I saw in the movie theater when I was 12. Loved Lara's theme Somewhere My Love! Julia Christie was excellent in the role of Larissa (Lara).

We had a Shetland Sheepdog named Sandie MacGregor.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Alison, I had to smile at your comment--it can get quite tricky in families when there are lovely family names at stake! Nice to have cousins named Emily and Emma.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Pat L. I must admit I am a sucker for a book with a dog or cat on the cover!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Laurie, Lara is one of my favorite names and Lara's Theme is such a beautiful song. I love your sheepdog's name, too

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thank you so much, everyone, for your comments. I loved reading about the names you chose for your pets and kids. There are some wonderful names here!

Kandy Shepherd said...

The winner of a signed copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS is Booklover 0266

Booklover, Please email me with your snail mail address so I can mail your book to you.

kandy@kandyshepherd.com

Thank you to everyone else for commenting.