An e-mail from Imhotep Edelman

>> Thursday, August 10, 2006

Like many other writers, I've found baby name books to be a helpful resource when trying to come up with names for characters. This is something I continually struggle with. For Samurai Shortstop, I collected Japanese first names and family names as I did my research, and then randomly paired first and last names I liked to name my characters. I seem incapable of doing this for Western characters that I write about though, worrying endlessly over the meanings, connotations, and even sound of their names. Even my baby name books don't help; I can't just open it up and pick a name, because I inevitably find some reason to not like the one I've found.

But there may be hope for me yet! I now get dozens of randomized names e-mailed to me every day. What's the name of this miraculous service?

Spam.

Yes, apparently in their continuing attempts to baffle e-mail filters, spammers are constantly generating unique names for the "From" line. After laughing at the random beauty of some of these names, I've begun to write them down to use for characters. Here's my first batch:

Imhotep Edelman
Isis Crawford
Heath Frost
Moses Guerrero
Lindsay Rubio
Nathaniel Hubbard
Turlough Cavitt
Alison Story
Ervin Gammage
Katsuo Heffernan

I'm going to keep collecting names, and it's a sure bet the spammers will keep sending them. Someday, I want to write a story where all the characters come from spam names! Perhaps they will be con artists.

4 comments:

Fabricationist,  August 11, 2006 at 3:17 AM  

It is possible that I am even more anal than you on this one. I use http://www.behindthename.com/, so that I know what the name means before I use them. Most of my spam these days is in Chinese or another asian character form, so I don't curently have access to the name generation that you seem quite blessed with.

Fabricationist,  August 11, 2006 at 4:23 PM  

Oh, by the way, I just wanted to let you know that after I read this post I found myself collecting them too. No really, thanks. Just what I need on my desktop, another word file containing a list of something. My favorite so far is:

Odessa Slaughter

Julie Danielson,  August 15, 2006 at 11:02 AM  

Alan, when I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I had great fun coming up with drug names from those t.v. ads as potential baby names -- Lipitor, in particular, was our favorite (my husband adding that it sounded like a comic book villain). Allegra, Lunesta, Cialis, Levitra -- the fun never ends. Perhaps you can write a book with those characters one day . . . Thanks for linking to our blog. -- Julie Danielson

Alan August 15, 2006 at 12:57 PM  

Too funny! I love the thought of using drug names as character names. They would be perfect in some sort of far-flung future sci-fi story. In Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles, there is an American Indian tribe that uses names culled from the long-gone American civlization. Among my favorites is the boy named "Pull Tab to Open."

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