Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pondering about Names Part 1

Names are very personal things aren't they?  People can get all huffy if their name is mocked or when they end up being accidentally named the same as some foolish public figure.  Over the next three days, I'm going to take a relatively light-hearted look at some of the names that authors give to their heroes and see whether some of the things that I like or which bother me about names is the same as the dear readers of this blog.

But first....

Is it just me, or do other people associate hair colour with names?

I have this thing about the name Simon.  In my head all Simons have blond hair and so whenever I read a book where the hero is called Simon he will have blond hair in my imagination.  I'm not quite why this is but maybe I was influenced in my early teen years by this man:

Anyway, this means that no matter how many times an author will tell me in their book that their Simon has brown or red hair, in my mind it is always a golden blond colour.  Weird, huh?

Conversely, Adams are always brunets.  Always.  Again, I'm not sure why but it could be something to do with this fellow:

Maybe I'm just a strange, strange lady but those two names in particular always give me a clear mental picture of hair colour - and those names only.  No other names have this effect on me.

Am I the only odd-ball out there who links certain names with hair colour?  Please tell me it isn't so or I'll have to go and hide under a rock in shame :).


lbgregg said...

My Adam? Yup.

Tam said...

Well, Sven or Erik is usually blond in my brain. :-) To me Simon is dark haired. No idea why.

It's funny how stuff like that gets stuck in your head.

Clare London said...

Do you think it's just people you've known in real life with that name? Simon is *definitely* blond to me, and Adam dark. So we must be following the same oddball creed :).

Elliot is always dark. I just had to change the MC in a story because I knew Elliot was the right name for him but he'd been written up to that part as blond LOL.

Chris said...

Hmm. I'm not coming up with any strong name/hair color associations, besides Barbie should always be blond. ;)

Oh, great veri word: hyperati.

Chrissy said...

The way our brains make associations is fascinating. The name Eric for me will always be associated with dark hair and a swarthy complexion. And there is a Vinnie who does the news that absolutely ISN'T a Vinnie in my mind. I'm always so shocked when I hear his name.

Jenre said...

LB: Yes, you got it right :). BTW, in future all authors should defer to me on names & I shall tell them whether the name fits the hair colour or not, LOL!

Tam: Well, yes. Scandinavian names do conjure up images of blond men, but I've also read some books where a Sven has had brown hair - which seems wrong somehow :).

Jenre said...

Clare: It could be that. I have known two blond Simons and can't recall any dark haired Simons. Hmmmmm, yes. You may have a point there :).

Chris: Barbie should always be blond

LOL! And Ken should always have brown hair :)

Jenre said...

Chrissy: Ah, you see, I always associate Eric with blond hair because it's a Viking name and all vikings are blond, obviously :). Plus on my version of the game Guess Who Eric had blond hair!

SidneyKay said...

See, now I think Erik has red hair. Damion, Noble, Sebastian, dark hair. Steve, Jon, Tex, light hair.

Anonymous said...

Girls named Anne should always have red hair, but only if it's Ann with an E. :)

Adam always has dark hair.

Kevin is always a blond. I don't know why.

Anonymous said...

No, but I'm an exceedingly unvisual reader/writer anyway, and I usually don't have a mental picture of how characters look unless it's thoroughly shoved into my attention. (Several people have said that I obviously hear my stories as a radio play rather than see them as a film. They are quite correct in this, although I'm trying to put more visual description in the first drafts these days.)

Tracy said...

hmmm...I don't know that I've ever though about it. I'd go with Tam in that Sven and Erik are blonds cuz I'm thinking Viking. Not a name...but vampires are always dark haired in my head.

Jeff is always a red head in my mind because my brother Jeff has red hair. Thank heavens I don't actually picture him. lol (Gross!)

BeeCycling said...

I'm obsessive enough about names already, don't give me another factor to take into account!

Uh-oh, I've got a strawberry blond Adam in one of my WIPs. Adam seems like a blond name to me.

What about Zach, who's the other half of the pairing? What colour hair does the name Zach bring to mind?

Oh, weird, the word I have to type in for the word verifications to prove I'm not a robot is "tintings". Strangely appropriate. Not that I know anything about tinting hair, heavens no...

LesleyW said...

No, you are not alone. but I've only really noticed it once and it was a heroine not a hero. But I had it completely fixed in my head that this heroine called Cynthia had blonde hair and every time I saw the cover with the brunette on it, I'd think :rollseyes: the cover people have got it wrong again. Only after I read the book I realise they've got it right and I'm just imagining her in my head as blonde.

Jenre said...

Sidney: Yes, Steve is another guy I often associate with blond hair. Hmmm, I don't really have a name I associate with red hair unless you would count obvious names like Rusty or Russell.

Eyre: I've known a few Kevins and they've always had dark hair so I don't see Kevins as blond.

Jules: Unless an author specifically describes a character's hair colour, I shall just make up my own in my head. Sometimes I'll be part way through a book and the hair colour will be mentioned and it's completely different to what I pictured. We readers need to visual clues early on :).

Jenre said...

Tracy: Jeff could be any colour. It's not one of the names that sticks in my head in terms of hair colour. And, no, it's probably best not to think of your brother in terms of hero material :).

Becky: Zach's another name that could be any colour for me, but I just can't picture Adam as a strawberry blond - sorry, he'd just be re-translated to dark haired in my head :).

Lesley: Cynthia is definitely a blonde haired lady! There was a Cynthia in Mary Balogh's book and I remember thinking how well the name fit her appearence and personality.

Anonymous said...

Jenre, rather oddly, one of the few characters{*} where I had a really strong visual image while writing the book is not described in detail because he's the viewpoint character. I knew what Mark in Lord and Master looked like, not least because it's directly relevant to the plot, but he's never described in the first book other than in how people react to him. So you know he's slightly built and has androgynous features, but not what his colouring is.

But the cover of the book should give you a whacking great clue as to what description I gave the cover artist. :-) Anne did a nice job with that cover, as I saw Mark's face is a little more rounded than that, but otherwise the guys are pretty close to how I'd visualised them.

(*At least, out of those characters where I didn't use a real person as a physical model.)

Jenre said...

Jules: I never had any difficulty picturing Mark as blond. I thought it was the way you had described him in the book, but obviously it was the cover that gave me the image, not your description :).

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