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I just received an email regarding character names from my current series, Speeding. In it, I was told I “went overboard” on the non-traditional names… Hmm… Let’s see here, my protagonists are Reid (male) and Kendall (female). Admittedly, Kendall is a unisex name.

Kendall’s brother’s name is Kyle while Reid’s brothers are Ryder and Reece. Okay, yes, Reece is another unisex name, but Ryder (which means knight, btw) is squarely in the male category.

Kyle’s love interest is Nichole (squarely feminine) but Kendall’s best friend and boss is Taylor (female, but admittedly unisex). There are plenty of secondary and tertiary characters with gender-specific names- Chris, Jason, James, Lara, Kiley, Madelyn, Cassandra, Madison, Helen, Roger, Lois, Ernie, Scott…. and only one more unisex name I can think of- Skylar. I’ve used Skylar (traditionally spelled this way for a female and Skyler for a male) for a female character who is secondary here and will be the protagonist in another story.

So… What’s your take on this? I didn’t name a boy Sue or a girl John- I’ve used unisex names, and honestly, I didn’t think they were terribly unusual. While I’m not planning to change the character’s names, I’d love opinions on this.

I have another series rattling around in my brain (and laptop) focusing on Taylor’s family, the Jamiesons.  The naming tradition in the Jamieson household is occupational names, so I have Booker (Dad) and his kids Hunter, Carter, Tanner, Sawyer, Walker and Taylor (Taylor is the only girl).  So, yes, they’re (marginally) unusual, but there’s a reason behind it.  What are your thoughts there?

Thanks for sharing (and “listening” to me rant!)

~HB