What's in a Name: Sutton Von Hunt

Pet peeves? Oh, I have a few, like we all do. Not many. Queue-cutters, for sure. Me and Prior Yates. :)

One of my smaller peeves are characters who show up with names that instantly telegraph who they are. So the rich girl has a posh, moneyed name. The jock has a jock name. And so forth. (If the names are meant satirically, bravo -- I do love that.)

The upshot is that I like names that surprise. There's no need to telegraph that the girl walking onto the page is a snob from her name alone. I'd rather learn she's a snob through her actions and deeds.

Enter Sutton Von Hunt, Fair Finley's best gal in the "Wilfair" books. The name Sutton Von Hunt feels posh to me, but Sutton is not moneyed. She works with her grandmother at a fruitcher shop. She's not making fun cash there, either; she helps Grandma cover the necessities at home.

When I first started writing "Wilfair," Sutton had a name that was a bit on the nose for her take-no-guff, says-it-like-she-sees-it personality. She had that name for a lot of the book, in fact. But I decided, in the end, on a tonier name because Sutton is rich beyond her bank account.

She has a strong sense of self and a strong sense of justice and a big mind for math and she has a great friend in Fair. Why shouldn't the character who isn't wealthy money-wise but is wealthy in life get the posh name? Why does it always have to be the girl or guy with the new sports car?

Likewise, two more "Wilfair" characters who are not moneyed have a first name that has often been used to indicate a man of wealth: Montgomery.

My argument could all be negated by the name Fair Finley, of course; Fair's character is a little soft and Fair Finley is a soft-sounding name. But it doesn't instantly peg Fair as any one thing, when I read it.

Although Fair's father's name is Cabot, which is pretty tony. So I suppose that knocks my argument, too. I love the name Cabot and wanted someone to have the name. Fair's mom has not been named yet, at least in the books, but I keep returning to a month of the year for her name. 

Where do you stand on names that telegraph, or don't telegraph, who someone might be?

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