What’s in a name? What’s my name?

Thaddeus NowakAuthor name?

I’ve been told Thaddeus Nowak is a great author name by a number of people and I have to say I  agree–I like it.  I’ve also been asked a number of times if it is a pseudonym.

I am happy to say Thaddeus Nowak is the name my parents gave me, so while I cannot take credit for choosing the name, I will take credit for keeping it.

Ted, which is what I go by for day-to-day conversation, was also borrowed from my grandfather.  His name was Thaddeus and they called him Ted.  Where you get Ted out of Thaddeus I have not been able to determine accurately.  I’ve googled it a few times, but instead of getting the etymology of the name, I often end up finding a long list of baby names (or in my case, potential character names).

I do know that when I was taking an anthropology class, the professor was trying to guess nicknames from the roster and he guessed Ted.  I never got a chance to ask why he guessed that; sadly, an opportunity lost.

I do know that through history, nicknames were chosen in different ways during different periods.  Sometimes the names were shortened forms of the given name, other times, they were shortened and the first letter change, and in other periods, people just came up with something completely different.  That got me thinking about how my characters might have ended up with their names and how their cultures would have influenced things.

Character names

For me, when I am looking for character names, I often go with something that calls to me on a subconscious level; at least for the primary characters.  I have a list of names I have seen or heard over the years and go back to it when the need arises.  I add to it regularly.  Sometimes I’ll stop what I am doing and jot a new one down (perhaps in a way that disturbs people who may be watching: why are you writing my name down?).  I used to do it on a notepad I carried with me, but now I can pretend I just got a text message and have to respond.  Oh, how smart phones can cover the truth of what we are doing and I no longer have to explain that your name is perfect for the villain in my book.

When writing, I was initially torn with the idea of the characters having nicknames and how best to use them.  I wanted to avoid confusing people by having too many names floating about the prose.  However, when you look around and see how many people are using a name other than their given name, I decided it was more natural to go ahead and allow the primary characters who had nicknames to use them.  Hopefully, the result came out as I had intended and it flows seamlessly.

I have also noticed that many people are very particular about their name and do not want people to take the liberty of shortening it for them.  Others don’t want to use their given name at all.  To honor those people, in Mother’s Curse, Douglas (one of Stephenie’s companions) explained when asked, that “My father called me Douglas, not Doug.”

Changing topics, I wanted to thank everyone who came out to the KC Ren Fest this weekend and stopped by to chat.  I had a lot of fun talking with everyone and look forward to doing it again next weekend!