Pauline Rowson explains how she chooses the names of her characters in her crime and thriiler novels

Getting the right name for characters in a crime novel, or any novel come to that, can be a tricky business. Sometimes they come to me completely out of the blue as I am creating a character, other times I will struggle to find the name that best suits the character.

I have always had this thing that people should look like their names. When someone is introduced to me I will think yes, you are a Jacqueline or a Malcolm. Other times I will think, oh no, you're definitely a Karen or a Wayne. And so it is with the characters I am creating. The name has to fit. If it's not right then the character isn't right. The name also needs to fit with the age and nationality although you can have exceptions.

So where do I get names from? When seeking inspiration for first names I turn to my little book of baby's names or I will look up a web site of baby's names. I also keep an ear out for any unusual or interesting names when meeting people and will jot these down.

When working on Footsteps on the Shore (no. 6 in the DI Andy Horton marine mystery series) I was stuck for one particular character. He had several incarnations before trawling through the A-Z of names I hit on it. Ashley. Yes, he is definitely an Ashley.

As to surnames, I let my finger do the choosing and tend to pick these out of an atlas or street map. Then I see if it fits with the first name and the character. And the more novels I write the more I am in danger of repeating names, (it's easy to forget what you have already used) so I am building a database in order to double check this.


And where did Andy Horton come from? I've no idea. He just sprang to mind both the name and the character, and long may he thrive.



crime novels, marine mystery murder series, British crime writer, crime fiction

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