Giving Birth to a New Character

Now that the “block” is gone, I’ve embarked on creating a new character for the immigration book. For those of you who have not read this blog before, I’m writing a novel about Sicilian immigrants who settle in New York City. The character I’m giving birth to is named “Willie the C”, and yes, you guessed it, he is a mafia soldier.

Naming characters is almost important in novels as it is in real life. Most parents look through scores of books to find the perfect name. Together with the name sounding good with the surname the child will carry through life, I wanted to know what the name meant.  I chose Amy and Sarah for my daughters’ names — which mean “beloved one” and “little princess” respectively. My brother and his wife liked “Kali” for their little girl, that is until they discovered “Kali” came from from kāla, which meant “black, time, death, lord of death.” It’s not surprising they dropped the idea and chose Kallie, which means “most beautiful.” We can’t have our children going through life with names that don’t fit them, can we?

That little detail gets us back to my dilemma of “Will the C.”  My problem is serious! There is NO Italian boy’s name that starts with “W”! Do you believe it? The simplest thing–naming a character has become a major dilemma. What’s a struggling author to do?

When in doubt, I look to REAL history to find the answer. In this case, I’ll consider the fact that immigrants gave themselves Americanized names. My Grandpa Ballasario was called “Bill.” Yeah. That’s what I’ll do. After all, Salvatore Luciano named himself Charles. I guess if it’s good enough for Lucky Luciano, it will be good enough for “Willie the C.”

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