Tuesday, December 09, 2014

What’s in a (hero) name? – Kandy Shepherd

When it comes to naming a romance hero, there are certain names that do it for me: Matt, Nick, Sam, Tom, Joe and Luke have all starred as heroes in my novels.

But one of my very favorite guy names is Jesse. I don’t know why it conjures up tall, dark and super sexy for me but it always has.

I’ve met a few Jesses in my time—and they’ve all been charming. Did their mothers have some intuition about what kind of men their infant boys would become? Or did they just like the name?

Because Jesse is such a favorite with me, I don’t know why I used it for a secondary character in my first book for Harlequin Romance The Summer They Never Forgot.

The hero of that book, Ben Morgan, had a brother Jesse. That Jesse was quite a heartbreaker became apparent both in that book and the second Dolphin Bay book The Tycoon and the Wedding Planner. Had I thrown away that wonderful name on a secondary character?

All made sense when I went to write the third book in the series, A Diamond in Her Stocking. This was going to be Jesse’s story—Jesse the handsome heartbreaker was going to fall very hard in this book.

Before writing the story I had a strong image in my of what my Jesse looked like:  “Jesse Morgan. All six foot three of him—black haired, blue-eyed, movie-star handsome.”

Jesse Spencer

So did I look for inspiration in gorgeous celebrities named Jesse? How about Jesse Spencer from House and Chicago Fire? I’ve always liked him, even when he was in Australia soapies and teen flicks.

Jesse Metcalf

Then there was Jesse Metcalf. It wasn’t just the Desperate Housewives who swooned over him in the role of John.

No. Handsome as those two are, I knew exactly who could model for my Jesse Morgan. Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries) fitted the bill in every way—except of course for his name. Ian. I’m sure there are many wonderful romance heroes named Ian. It’s just not a name that does if for me.

Ian Somerhalder

So with an image of Ian Somerhalder (who I think is totally swoonworthy and especially because he is an animal lover) and the name of Jesse Morgan, the hero of A Diamond in Her Stocking came to life. Then, of course, as I wrote he became entirely his own person. I relished every moment of making Jesse worthy of lovely, feisty Lizzie Dumont, the heroine.

By the way, my next book for Harlequin Romance From Paradise to…Pregnant! (June 2015) has a gorgeous hero named Mitch. Mitch is another of my favorite guy names. I’ll share more about Mitch some other post...

What about you? Do you have a favorite romance hero name? Are there certain names you love/hate in a romance hero?

Make a comment to be in the draw for a signed copy of A Diamond in Her Stocking. Please include your email address in your comment if you want to be included in the draw.

Before I go, I’d like the chance to wish you all a wonderful festive season—see you in January!

Kandy’s third Dolphin Bay story for Harlequin Romance, A Diamond in Her Stocking, is a December 2014 release and is available now.

Kandy Shepherd is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her family and a menagerie of four-legged friends.


Devika Fernando said...

I love all the names you mentioned - and I LOVE your visual inspiration / dream cast for Jesse. ;-)
As for me, I really like hero names starting with D. Daniel, David, Darren, Damian... the list goes on. I guess I'll eventually write about all of them. I have also always loved Michael (and named the hero in my debut like that).

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thanks, Kandy. Good choice of names!

Do names matter to me? Well, they do and they don't. It's certainly not the most important factor in a reader relating to a character.

But one of my pet peeves is wildly inappropriate names. The worst offenses are in historical romances. Nowadays in English-speaking countries, in regard to names, just about anything goes. Such was not always the case.

But try telling that to certain historical romance writers. They're fond of giving Regency heroines names that would've been impossible before the 20th century. Or medieval heroes with names that never existed, period. Or characters of either sex with names that are for real, but not in the time and place where the story is set. Or ancient Romans with names that completely ignore the rules of Roman nomenclature.

Some of these authors are bestsellers. Apparently readers don't mind this kind of anachronism. With one exception!

No need to enter me in the drawing; I already have your new release. Good luck and happy holidays!

Chelle Sandell said...

I love your choices!! And Ian's eyes?! Yummy!! Love to hear your process and what helps you shape your hero.

Unknown said...

I never paid attention to this detail (maybe because I'm not a writer :D), but you're right: some names seem to be the right ones for the heroes! I personally like David and Jamie, but I can see all the names that you mentioned associated with tall, handsome men - especially Luke ;)

Cathy P said...

Hi, Kandy! I love your list of names, and the pictures of inspiration for Jesse. You are a new author for me, and I am looking forward to reading your books.


Kandy Shepherd said...

Lovely to see you here Devika! I've never met a Michael I didn't like--it's a great hero name. I love your list of "D" names. May I add Declan to the Ds? He's the hero I'm currently writing--with images of Matt Bomer (White Collar) in mind...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Mary Anne, I don't have your in-depth knowledge of history but I totally agree with you regarding the era-inappropriate names. It really gets me into throw-book-at-wall mode!
I hope you enjoy reading A DIAMOND IN HER STOCKING

Kandy Shepherd said...

So nice to see you here Chelle! I'm a recent convert to Pinterest and am finding that very useful for visual inspiration. There are a lot of pins of Ian - and his amazing eyes - on my board!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Tall, handsome men - what a joy it is to be a romance writer and conjure up these gorgeous heroes! I like David and Jamie, too, Mal. Through I don't think I'll ever actually write a Jamie hero, as my reader heart is totally given to Jamie in Outlander!

Beautiful Disaster said...

I like your selections :)
Guy names are hard because I don't like a lot of them but I have 3 boys and so those are my faves. They are David, Nathaniel and Benjamin :)
Happy Holidays,
lorih824 at yahoo dot com

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Cathy, so nice to meet you here on Tote Bags. So glad you enjoyed the names and pictures--I hope you enjoy reading Jesse's story when you get the chance!

dstoutholcomb said...

I love the name Sebastian.


Kandy Shepherd said...

What wonderful names for both sons and heroes Lori! I love them all. (Sons who grow up to be real-life heroes!)

Kandy Shepherd said...

I love it too, Denise. I will definitely use Sebastian for a future hero!

Devika Fernando said...

Oh, yours is a fascinating D name! :-)

Carol L. said...

Love the pics and your names. When I picture a gorgeous Higlander coming toward me I'd definitely go with Ian. :). I also love Jamie for obvvious reasons.How much I love highlanders.. :). Love the name Roarke too. Thanks for the interesting post and the chance.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aaol (dot) com

Mary Preston said...

I love the ''classic'' names like James, Thomas, Christopher, Edward etc.


Unknown said...

That's exactly the Jamie I had in mind!!!

Laurie G said...

My favorite names are Luke, Jason , Eric, David and Stephen.

I'm not a fan of George, Charles ( Charlie) , Edward (Eddie) or Richard (Dick).

I also like Rob and Ethan.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, Carol. You are so right about Ian as a Highlander name - of course it's perfect. Not quite as perfect as Jamie though! Roarke? Yes!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Agree, Mary, those classic names are hard to beat. I'm particularly biased towards James as that is my husband's name!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Laurie, I love your favorite hero names--and agree with the ones you don't like. Eddie to me is a particularly good choice for a bad guy or heartbreaking old boyfriend in a heroine's past! Thanks for sharing.

Laurie G said...

johns lake at usa dot com