The Power of Names

As Above, So Below

As Above, So Below

When I started the first succubus story for Brian, I needed a name for the main character.  He was fascinated by Coop’s devil girl stickers: big happy girls who didn’t apologize for liking sex.  Coop’s girls looked like they called themselves Candi or Brandi or Mandie, but I didn’t want to go that route.

Down the block from where Brian was living at the time, one of the apartment buildings was called the Lorelei.  I didn’t know much about the Lorelei legend, other than she was a siren who led men to their doom.  Later I discovered that she was a mermaid and blonde, but I had a cousin named Lorelei and her hair was dark, so it’s all good.

The angel’s name was harder to choose.  Brian suggested Azaziel, so I just went with it.  The nickname Aza (which we pronounced Ah-za, to follow from Ah-za-zi-el) developed organically, since Lorelei likes to nickname her prey, to find the attribute that sums up their longing and tease them with it:  Tiger, Killer, Boss.  By dropping the honorific -iel that gets tacked onto most angels’ names, Aza sounds — to Lorelei — halfway fallen already.

Lorelei’s sister Floria’s name came from the opera Tosca, which I saw the San Francisco Opera perform around the time I was working on the story.  I liked the rhyme of Lor and Flor and the echo of having three syllables. Luckily, Brian stopped me before I had to name any more three-syllable succubi.

The only character whose name changed radically after we finished the book was Hai.  All through the first draft, his name was Tran, which I really liked.  At the same time, I was committed to Floria’s boy-toy being named Tuan Nguyen, one of the most common Vietnamese names.  The names looked too similar on the page and I became afraid  readers would confuse them, so Hai took a minor character’s name.

Brian chose the mortal girl Ashleigh’s name.  I protested a little, since we already had Aza and Asmodeus, but once he decided the harpies taunted her by calling her Ashes, I was sold.

Names tell you a lot about a character.  I often wonder if writers start with the character and look for a name to match — or if they start with the name and let it define the character?

About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, as well as a space opera trilogy. I'm also co-author of a series about a succubus and her angel. In addition to blogging at, I blog about my morbid life at
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4 Responses to The Power of Names

  1. coastalcrone says:

    I have wondered the same thing about writers. Thanks for sharing your process in writing this book. Whenever I write fiction I have to have a name first.

  2. Pingback: Win a copy of As Above, So Below! | Morbid Is as Morbid Does

  3. Pingback: Why I dedicated Kill By Numbers to Brian | The Home of Author Loren Rhoads

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