I stopped by Seventh Sanctum to test drive their latest online name generator, Extreme Fantasy Names, and about laughed myself into a stitch over the results:
Actually I like extreme character names if they're single words (Machete Lanceknight might be really silly and over the top, but Song and Reaper by themselves aren't bad at all.) I also don't mind if an author uses extreme names that seem ridiculous to me because it's a personal style thing, and getting upset over it would be like me spitting on every woman who wears sunshine yellow (which I don't. I promise.) I'm also sure some of mine are just as laughable.
I gravitate toward unusual, rare and coined names, but I don't think the majority of mine are especially extreme. Still, I've been forced to rename five female protagonists and two males; the most common complaint has been that my female name choices aren't "pretty enough" and the male name choices are "too uncommon."
A bit of Darkyn trivia: if Jayr hadn't already been mentioned in Dark Need, my editor would have made me change her name to something else before the publication of Evermore. Another "it isn't pretty enough" situation. Still, despite its apparent ugliness, Jayr's name has (to my knowledge, anyway) never earned a single reader complaint.
The two extreme character names that are forever burned on my brain: Bellis Coldwine and Lovey. The first is one of China Mieville's characters, and while his Dickensonian approach to naming characters generally doesn't bother me, that one always crawls up the back of my neck like jabs of an ice pick. Every time I see it, I envision a barfly projectile vomiting a couple gallons of cheap Sangria. Don't ask me why, I just do.
I can't remember who had a character named Lovey, only that it was a romance novel. While it may not be considered by most readers to be all that extreme, my Pavlovian response to it certainly is. Lovey is what my least favorite relative used to call me during holiday visits as she was appraising how little I'd improved over the last year: Oh, lovey, that pixie cut is just not right for a girl with a big old face likes yours orYou should eat more, lovey, you're all knees and elbows. So every time I see or hear the name Lovey I want to go kick a nasty old lady in the shins.
How do you guys feel about extreme character names? Have you ever been tempted to christen a Chastity Solitaire or Machete Lanceknight in one of your stories? Any extreme character names permanently branded in your memory?