Carmichael’s, the restaurant her family owns in my new novel, has me looking more closely at others.

Long before I ever anticipated what’s evolved into my newest novel, What’s Left, I ended my first published novel with a young woman named Diana, in part because I liked the two puns it allowed. Her husband-to-be, a student of Tibetan Buddhism, had returned to Indiana – and now he could boast of a love that allowed him to be in Diana as well as in Dhyana, or deep meditation.

Not that you have to understand Sanskrit to read it. Shouldn’t the mere hint of something exotic should suffice?

As I wrote earlier:

I’m told that in their first meeting, the Dalai Lama removed his sunglasses and smiled. Baba had not been chasing women after all in those years before settling here. Rather, he’d been seeking his Shakti, his spiritual companion and soul mate he found in Manoula. Through her, whatever had been passive within him would find action, release, fulfillment. She was the fire for his air. She gave the flame to his candle. Together, she was as free and focused and purposeful as he was in their psychic dance of liberation.


Whew! Cassia’s father-to-be needed to get his feet to touch the ground! Looking back, I’m amazed he wasn’t incinerated by the encounter. One thing about this Diana: she’s no cold marble statue. Still, as my new novel took shape, she had to become a more consistent figure.

My guess is that the naming of characters is an ongoing challenge for authors. We could get into a long writers’ table discussion of names that fit and ones that don’t. After all, you do get a set of assumptions regarding someone named Mortimer or Natasha, don’t you? Or, for that matter, Tawny Rae?

What does your name say about you? Have you ever looked up what it means? Have you ever thought something else would fit better? Why?


  1. My name means “hard working.” Not sure that I feel blessed to have been given that to live up to!

    My daughter’s name, though, means “life,” and she was given that after a pregnancy the doctors told me she wouldn’t survive. It seemed fitting to celebrate her defiance of their predictions!

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