When I surprised my daughter with Spilling Ink, she sat down immediately and began reading. She stopped at Section 5, ran downstairs, and grabbed the phone book. When I asked her what she was up to, she said she was "name hunting". One of the great ideas from this short section of the book is to peruse the phone book for names for your characters. What a great idea! I would definitely do this with my students. I think you could even get story ideas from the names you find. (One time when the kids were little, they found the name Santa Clause in the phone book! I dared them to call him, but they wouldn't. I think that would be the start of a great story.)
When I think about the "interview" I did with my character yesterday, I can't really even picture her yet. I know what her name is, though. James. Maybe her middle name will be Dean. I don't know what made me think of it, except that my mom's name is Michael and I've always been intrigued by that. She says that she didn't like it at all growing up-- she got teased a lot. Now that she is an adult, she embraces it. Folks call her Mike now. When I was little, I remember some of her sisters calling her Mikey. I always got a kick out of that.
The real writer in the family, my daughter, Emily, talks about names a lot. When she runs across a cool one, she jots it down. She even talks about what her children's names might be. She is borderline-obsessed with the name we almost gave her-- Marley. I believe we will have a Marley in the family someday. She will be a character in one of Emily's books, or she will be my granddaughter.
Names are important. I'm glad I took a few minutes to think about them today. Thanks, Ellen and Anne!