What's his name, and what does he look like?

Those may not be the first two question I ask myself when I start writing, but they’re right up there. I HAVE to know his name and appearance — hero first, almost always. Until I get them right, I cannot truly begin. Names are a huge thing for me. I can’t use a placeholder name to start out; too much baggage attaches to it, and then when I try to switch to the “real” name, I find I’m writing about a completely different person.

The title of the book is much the same, though it can wait a little while. I do have to put a good name to it sometime before I hit the end of Act I, however–usually before I complete the proposal–and I tend to obsess until I come up with something I like. I’ve had to change a couple of titles after I turned the manuscripts in, though, and strangely, it didn’t bother me like a character name change does. All I did was obsess again until my editor and I agreed to something.

As for appearance, that’s more general but just as critical. Really, a blond hero is different from a raven-haired one, and if you add a streak of silver to the raven, well you have someone entirely new. I’m not one of those people who does a collage, but I do clip images on the internet and save them. Dozens of them (more on that in another post).

What brought this up is that I got my cover art for Immortal Warrior a few days ago. It’s gorgeous, all hero all the way. Unfortunately, it’s also preliminary, so I can’t share it yet — and I did ask. Though the cover model doesn’t look anything like who I pictured while I was writing, he’s a perfectly wonderful stand in. In fact, he has replaced my original model in my mind and heart. I’ve asked for his name and will share it when I can post the cover. This boy has a chest…omigod.

So while we’re waiting, I thought you might like to see what Ivo looked like while I was writing him. Turns out, he was a dead ringer for the juicy, tortured, wonderful Captain Etienne Navarre from Ladyhawke (aka Rutger Hauer)–except he wore grey.

Rutger as Navarre





  1. I watched The Jane Austen Book Club today and about halfway in, I sat up and said, “Holy Crap…that’s my hero!” while watching Hugh Dancy. It’s weird, but I can always see them so clearly in my mind it’s a shock to see a real, live person who is the hero.

    And I hear you on the names. It matters. Really. No one gets that except other writers. My current hero has a name I don’t really care for in the real world, but it’s HIM. I can’t change his name. And I’ve tried. My fingers just won’t type anything else.

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