Fortunata and Nicoletta were typical Calabrian names in the early 1900’s. If you were this child’s mother, which one would you prefer and why?

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Match the names to their decade of greatest popularity.

a). Susan and David                           a). 1950’s

b). Jennifer and Greg                         b). 1960’s

c). Brianne and Taylor                        c). 1970’s

d). Crystal and Ryan                          d). 1980’s

e). Sandra and Charlie                        e). 1990’s

f). Sydney and Hunter                         f). 2000’s

The answer key is at the end of this blog.

What springs to your mind when you hear the names “Nella and Edoardo?”

a). youth or maturity    b). Italian or East Asian heritage    c). a couple who lived in another era

Why are names important in The Inheritance?

The Inheritance is fiction inspired by genealogical research to solve family mysteries. It is set in Calabria, southern Italy during 1897 to 1913 and reflects a historical thread. In order to create an authentic sense of time and place, every detail was chosen with intent including character names.

A character’s name suggests an association. It is as critical as physical appearance, speech, style of dress and personal background and helps make the person come alive to the reader.

Who are Nella and Edoardo?

The Inheritance chronicles the life of Caterina Romano, an atypical woman who refuses to allow social norms dictate what she can and cannot do. Nella and Edoardo are her parents and I selected their names partly because they were popular during this period.

What would you have named the cook in The Inheritance?

a). Hunter    b). Giambattisto   c). Bruno    d). Bartolomeo    e). Billy    f). Michelangelo

The cook at the Villa San Michelle is integral to the novel and his name needed to meet the following criteria for selection:

  1. It had to subtly suggest the short and rotund stature I’d given his character. A two-syllable word, therefore, would be more effective than the multi-syllabled, Bartolomeo.
  2. It had to be easy to pronounce and remember. If a reader stumbled or forgot his name, it could interfere with the action in a scene, disrupt the flow of a descriptive passage or lessen her understanding. This eliminated Giambattisto.
  3. It couldn’t be synonymous with a famous person. Who do you automatically associate with the name, Michelangelo? An artist or cook?
  4. It had to be culturally relevant and historically accurate. This ruled out Hunter and Billy.

Names are a critical tool in building believable characters and I selected “Bruno” for the cook. What name did you pick?

Here’s the answer key:

a). 1960’s   b). 1970’s   c). 1990’s   d). 1980’s   e). 1950’s   f). 2000’s

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What does your name say about you? I’d welcome your comments.

The first three photographs were taken in Zurich, Switzerland and the last, Palermo, Sicily. They are related to this blog and I hope you enjoy them.


Business man on a busy city street

What occupation and personality type does this man’s stance and style of dress suggest? If he was a character in a book you were writing, what would you name him and why?

Waiting for the subway

Two of the peasant women in The Inheritance are named Fragola and Elda. Does either seem suitable for the girl with the blue shirt and black sunglasses?

Man at the Mercato di Capo in Palermo

My maternal grandparents were born in Sicily and I went to Palermo to learn about my family history. I saw this man at the Mercato di Capo and wondered if his name might have been Pietro like my grandfather’s.