Three of the names of my Atlantic City characters originated as accidents and misrememberings of the names I’d intended to use. It was a lot different to come up with new names in the pre-Internet days, before there were so many name sites full of choices beyond the basics. A lot of name sites are crap, to be sure, like sites claiming Heaven spelt backwards means “beautiful sparkly butterfly fairy princess” in “Slavic,” but there are also a number of very good ones, such as Behind the Name. I’ve also found a lot of legit names at Unusual, Unique, & Creative Names, aka Name Nerds. Back then I largely used the baby names booklet my mother had when she was pregnant with me, and found names in various books I’d read and from our dated 1965 set of encyclopedia. Years later I started realizing many of the so-called meanings in that names booklet were horsefeathers, like saying Ora means “sea lover” and Hazel means “One who sees God.” They also had down the meaning of Adicia as mal-treated, which was the whole reason I chose it as the name for the shero of my book inspired by the story behind the song “Rag Doll.” At least the real meaning, “injustice,” drawn from how Adikia was the Greek goddess of injustice, still had meaningful symbolism.
The name of my character Adeladie Campbell, the oldest of Max Seward’s three stepsisters (she’s seven and a half when she first appears, three years Max’s junior), was supposed to have been Adelaide. I’d seen the name in a junior biography of the early aviator Carl Ben Eielson, and thought it sounded really neat and uncommon. If I remember correctly, Adelaide was one of his sisters. But even after I realized my error, some years on, I just liked the invented named Adeladie too much to change it to Adelaide. She’d become Adeladie in my mind, Ladie (pronounced like Lady) for short.
Given that I was only eleven years old, not quite twelve, when I created Cinnimin, one of the later additions to my original cast of WTCOAC characters, I wasn’t the greatest speller. The name Cinnimin actually did begin as a misspelling. When I was drawing my pictures of these characters (I hope my marker drawings are still around somewhere!) and formulating their basic personalities in my mind, I imagined a girl with cinnamon-colored hair and eyes, and a personality matching her name. (I named Violet because she has violet-colored eyes, and Sparky, whose real name is Katherine, acquired that rather unusual-for-a-human nickname because I pictured a girl who was always shooting off her mouth like a spark.) But I liked my misspelling too much to change it to Cinnamon by the time I realized I’d been spelling one of my main characters’ names wrong for quite some time. I just think the spelling Cinnimin looks softer, prettier, more feminine, with a more intuitive pronunciation. Cinnamon looks like it should be pronounced Cin-a-MON, not CIN-i-min. This is probably one of a handful of instances where I’ll defend instead of mock a misspelled name. At least my kreatyv spylyng was unintentional. (There’s a huge difference between legit spelling differences, like Emily vs. Emilie, Katherine vs. Kathryn vs. Catherine, Megan vs. Meagan, Allison vs. Alyson, Demian vs. Damian, Frederic vs. Frederick, Roger vs. Rodger, Joseph vs. Jozef, and obviously misspelt names like Quaitlynne, Maddysynne, Paiythenn, and Jhonothon.)
Cinni and Levon’s tenth and final child, Atlanta, was a misremembering of a real name just like Adeladie. Cinni wanted to name her after the Greek mythological figure who was an excellent runner and said she’d only marry a man who could outrun her. She was distracted during her race by some golden apples a suitor threw in her direction. But it must’ve been awhile since I last read that story, since the runner’s name is Atalanta, not Atlanta. I’m normally not exactly a fan of place names that haven’t traditionally been used as people names. Names that were people names before they were place names, that are common enough as people names, or at least sound nice on a human, like Virginia, Phoenix, Florence, Austin (nauseatingly overused as it is), and Vienna I don’t have a problem with. But I hate the trend of using place names as people names, no matter how goofy they sound on a person, like Ireland, Boston, Trenton, Camden, London, Brooklyn, and Morocco. (It shouldn’t even need to be said, but a lot of people can’t seem to process that hating a name isn’t the same as hating the person who bears it. A baby obviously has no control over getting a very faddish or misspelled moniker.) Well, I just liked the unusual name Atlanta, and because of my character, I have no problem seeing it on the right type of person. Most of my fellow name nerds would beg to disagree with me, but I think I’m allowed to like a few names that aren’t so well-regarded among name nerds. And apparently the name has been used on a real person at least once before, since it’s the name of the young model Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor (who looks just like her famous father).