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Favorite Character Name: Iskaral Pust

I like character names that reflect something about the character’s personality. Dickens (Ebenezer Scrooge and many, many others) and Nabokov (Humbert Humbert) are just two of many authors who delighted in creating such names. A more recent example is Steven Erickson, whose fantasy series The Malazan Book of the Fallen has hundreds of memorable names, each chosen to reflect a defining trait of the character—Cutter, Picker, Blend, Antsy, Bluepearl, Faint, Precious Thimble, Scorch, Humble Measure, Lady Envy, to name a few.

I’ve tried to do the same in my books. The lead character in The Leadership Secrets of Squirrels ( http://tinyurl.com/2cdcblf ), for example, is Simon Silverback, the founder and CEO of Consolidated Acorns, Inc. I wanted a name that at once evoked age and wisdom. In Skeleton: A Bare Bones Mystery (http://tinyurl.com/2dbstrg ), I named one of the principal characters Sophie Vestibule, not only to indicate a piece of anatomy, which she freely offered, but to underscore her nevertheless guarded nature. You may make it into my bed, but not necessarily into my heart.

My favorite character name at the moment is Steven Erickson’s Iskaral Pust, High Priest of Shadow, a diminutive, veritable pustule of a man: eyes red-rimmed, complexion sallow, mood sour.

But then, wouldn’t you be a bit sour if your wife was a witch who ended every argument by morphing into a thousand spiders and scurrying away?