The Love For Unlikely Names

Hello My name is

A few weeks back I was lurking around on a fantasy forum and reading a post about Hounacier’s release.  One commenter stated that while he liked the concept of the story, he hated the name Matt Hollis. They went on to state that Matt Hollis would be the name of a garbage man or some office worker, and that they just couldn’t believe that a badass demon hunter would have such a blasé name.

My response was a simple eye-roll without comment.  Can’t please everyone, right?  However, the idea that our badass heroes are expected…nay…REQUIRED to have equally badass names stuck with me.  I mean, how many heroes have sweet, sweet names?

As an author, the task of choosing the perfect name for a character can be very stressful. I mean, we get to name them anything and we want it to be something that fits them.  We want a name that potential readers will see and instantly think, “Badass.”

 While the first names can be real short and basic, like something from a Dashiell Hammett crime novel – Jack, Nick, Sam, or Frank – sometimes they can also have some of those end of the alphabet letters, such as Xavier, Zane, or Vince.  Those are all real names. I’ve known someone named each of those. But the real kicker is in the last name.  A perfect last name is usually a word with a double meaning – Cross, Knight, Steele, Reaper, Fury, Cage, Thorn, Castle, Crow.  Colors are also good – Grey, Black, Scarlet, even White (But as Steve Buscemi will tell you, Pink just isn’t as cool.)

Fictional characters aren’t the only ones with cool names.  Many actors change their names to something more punchy (Did you really think his name was Nick Cage? Did you not read the formula above?).  And not just Hollywood actors either, porn stars have some spectacularly unlikely names. 

Personally for me, I don’t like names like that.  They feel fake. They feel forced or just full of themselves.  I think of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves when Robin asks Azeem if he gave himself that name.  Of better yet, the scene in Mystery Men when Monica asks what Mister Furious’ real name is.

Mystery Men Roy

 I write fantasy. My goal is to make you believe on some level that magic, monsters, and convenient circumstances are all perfectly believable.  Suspension of Disbelief is a finite resource, and I’d rather not waste it by giving my characters names that are only slightly more likely than the fantastical things that they do.  (At least Harry Dresden has a perfectly good in-story reason for his name).  My biggest goal when naming Matt, Allan, Luiza, or any of my other characters*, was that they were believable.  My second goal was the names weren’t already taken by some real-life celebrity or ruthless criminal that I wasn’t aware of.

I’d always thought that unlikely names were acceptable only for comic book or James Bond characters. Evidently I was wrong.  To each their own.

 So, what’s your favorite unlikely character name? 


*Except Malcolm…I named him after my favorite space cowboy, I totally admit it.


New Store and Some Free Fiction

For those that have been wanting a Tyenee Pendant from my Black Raven stories can find one on this site.  So far I only have the copper pendants.  Depending how they go, I’ll be expanding to Bronze, Silver, and the others.  I did have a few gold pendants made for myself and a few others.  There is one gold left and will be doing some special giveaway for it in the future.

In other news, several years ago I narrated my story The Mist of Lichthafen for the TTA Press podcast, Transmissions From Beyond.  It was a lot of fun.  However, TTA eventually pulled the podcast site down.  So I finally uploaded my recording to YouTube and SoundCloud for people to enjoy.



For those not familiar with the story, The Mist of Lichthafen was originally published in Black Static Magazine and was my first sale. It’s a heist/horror story, and while it’s technically not a Black Raven story, it shares the same world and themes. Many of the places in Mist of Lichthafen also appear in the Black Raven adventure Thieves Duel.  The quality of the recording is okay.  I wish my mouse wheel wasn’t so loud and there is a moment where I fail horribly as doing a little girl’s voice. But it’s still fun.  

Hope you enjoy it.

Guest Blogs and Events

With two book releases in a single month, everything has been busy.  However, I’ve found the time to write several guest blogs concerning my new books as well as my thoughts on the genre.

At RisingShadow I have, Pulp Heroes: Why We Love Them.  I discuss how pulp heroes are not just some forgotten heroes of a bygone era and why they appeal to us (hint: I talk about James Bond).

SF Signal hosted , Sword and Sorcery: A More Intimate Fantasy, where I explain why I think Sword & Sorcery is a much more fun and relatable genre than Epic Fantasy.

Over at The Quillery, I shared, So We Saved The World…Now What?. There I discuss how sequels needlessly have to up the stakes in every installment and why I rebelled against that in Hounacier by simply changing them. 

At Singular Points I have, Story Inspirations: The History and Hidden Places of New Orleans.  Here I share the story of how I hadn’t planned to write Hounacier as Book 2 until a trip to New Orleans completely changed my mind.

Check them out.  If you like them, or have anything to add, please leave a comment.  I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

Ragnarok Publications is hosting a Facebook Release event on Monday March 21st 8-10EDT.  We’ll have some guest authors (Cat Rambo, Kenny Soward, Jaym Gates, Tim Marquitz, and Lincoln Crisler), give away some free books (I’ll be giving out an Audible version of Damoren and a Black Raven pendant), and have ourselves a good time.  Come by. Laugh with us. Score free stuff.

Finally, for anyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I’ll be speaking at the Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus on April 16th at 2:00.

That’s all for now.

Hounacier Is Out!

The wait is over, Hounacier is out today on Amazon Kindle.  Other formats will be following soon.

Hounacier Cover

The first review is on The United Federation of Charles, which gave it an 8.5/10.  Since they gave Damoren an 8/10, I take that as a very good sign.
He says, Hounancier is a very different book from Damoren but not a bad one. Those looking for a continuation of Matt Hollis demon-slaying adventures will have to wait for future installments of the book. Those interested in a Voodoo-practicing demon-hunting stalking werewolves and succubi in New Orleans, however, are in for a treat.”

In other news, reviewed Dämoren, and made it to their Recommended Reading List.
They said, “Damoren is an exciting first venture from a talented new voice, and I will definitely be picking up the sequel. You should too.”

Also, I just got back from All-Con where I gave my very first Author Presentation. It was called, “The Things No One Tells You About Querying a Novel,” and it went outstandingly well.  It was a bit surreal to actually be the one presenting at one of these events. The piece was a more in depth look at the topics I discussed in my “5 Lessons I Learned When Querying a Novel” post.  Now that I’ve done it, I plan to hone it down and share it at further conventions.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing how everyone responds to Hounacier and to Mountain of Daggers.  I’ll be posting up some guest blogs and author appearances soon.

Thank you, everyone, for all your support.






Mountain of Daggers is Released

I am so very happy to announce that the first collection of Black Raven stories, Mountain of Daggers, has officially released. It’s currently available on Kindle, and other sites will have it soon.  Print editions will be appearing in 10 or so days.

Mountain Cover Front

Six years I’ve waited to say that. And it…felt…awesome.

Ahren has been my favorite character and a close imaginary friend for many years now.  And while the book is technically a collection of short stories, the best way I could really describe it is as Season 1. Sea of Quills (or Season 2) will be coming out this October, and I can’t wait to see what beautiful cover art the team at Ragnarok Publications will have for it.

One year ago I posted a blog about the journey the Black Raven has taken from a single short story to where he is today.  Personally, I find it rather fitting how it worked out after that. 

I want to thank Crystalwizard, Jason Waltz, Joe Martin, and Tim Marquitz for bringing this dream to life.