It always fascinates me to hear how other writers work, how they write and what happens during their creative process. One of the things I always wonder about as I start a book is where the character's names came from. I think it's because I know where mine do--from everywhere and anything and sometimes from nowhere and nothing! That makes sense, right? LOL. I'm one of those people who'll scan the credits of a TV show or movie for interesting names, look at the contributors list in magazines, gosh I've even been known to scan my kid's school contact list! I have a number of baby name books as well. One of them has 20,000 names in it! It's the one I used to name my kids, so it's kinda special.
Sometimes I'll just hear a name somewhere or I'll see it and I'll file it away for later. That's what happened with Rio from PAY UP. I've had that name identified as one I would use eventually for a long time. I just needed the right guy. I actually have a document that lists possible names and I usually look at it before I start a book UNLESS the story has started with a character so strongly, that the name is already there. It happens like that sometimes. The character will just pop into my head, fully formed and already with a name. I'm sure it's something from my subconscious, but it sometimes feels like it's come from thin air. Occasionally, I'll be developing a character profile and I'll get to a certain point and the character suddenly 'becomes' someone. It happened that way with Jillian from PICTURE THIS. Jillian is not a name that would have normally gotten my attention, but when I created her profile, she just 'seemed' like a Jillian. To me, anyway.
I try to pick names that are easy to pronounce and wouldn't have a reader wondering how they sound, but past experiences also come into play. There are particular names that have connotations and associations that would make it impossible for me to use them for heroes or heroines. It might be people I know, family, those from the past that have too many echoes (positive or negative) that would prevent me from relating to them enough to write them. I also have this issue sometimes as a reader. If there's a book with a name that I too readily associate with a living person, it can make it challenging to really engage with that character and become invested with them. Of course, a good writer telling a great story can usually get me past that.
So, readers...do you really care about character names, one way or the other? Would other writers like to share how they name their characters?