A name … or two…
Lately I had cause to pull out the WIP of The Chronicles of Eirie Book Four. I noticed something glaring, something I had never honestly thought about before. Alongside this WIP (I write in longhand and then transcribe, editing in the process), I laid the WIP of Book Two of The Gisborne Saga – different genre, different characters, different world.
And again, that glaring something.
In Book Four of the fantasy, the female protagonist’s name is Isabella, occasionally called Belle, often called Ibo by those with whom she lives in the secretive province called the Han.
In Book Two of The Gisborne Saga, the female protagonist’s name is Ysabel, always called Ysabel, sometimes My Lady or Lady Ysabel.
And oddly, amazingly, I had never noticed the similarity. The fantasy had not been touched since sometime in 2010, when I began to be sucked into historical fiction and Guy of Gisborne’s alternate life. So perhaps that’s a reason … forgotten, out of sight, out of mind.
I’ve always loved the name, ever since I was old enough to recognise that Isabel was my mother’s second name (a name she detests to this day). But I doubt that is enough to cause me to christen two heroines in two books by the same name. The name means God’s Promise and if Bella is added to the end, one can assume it means ‘beautiful’ and there are dozens of different variants from the exotic Gaelic Ishbel to the wonderfully medieval Provencal version, Elizabel. The etymology is quite well described on Wikipedia.
And of course there are many famous Isabels (or Isobels/Ysabels) throughout history, again listed in Wikipedia. But surely not enough, I think, to entrench that inability to recognise the similarity of names in the two stories.
To be honest, I reckon its my mum’s fault – rattling on about the disliked name and saying that when she was at school, everyone teased her by chanting: ‘Is-a-bel necessary on a bike!’
For me the name, all variants thereof, is distinctly feminine but not at all wall-flowerish or retiring. In each instance, both in the fantasy and the historical fiction, she is exactly what I want her to be – personified by her name.
Should I change the name of each?
Not on your sweet nelly!!