One of the things I get asked is how to pronounce the names in Half, or where I got them. Err, so I’ll admit that usually when I’m picking names for my characters, they’re mostly collections of sounds I like, that sort of… feel like the characters to me. If that makes sense at all outside of my writer brain. And that definitely happened in Half. But I did try to put some thought into the names, because some should really have at least some sort of cultural significance, or mean something. So, ahh…
Luca: Yeah… not one of the ones I put a ton of thought into. His name was originally something else—a Russian nickname, actually—and it just didn’t fit with the story. So I went looking for names that felt similar and as soon as I saw Luca, I knew it was right. I’m a sucker for boys’ names ending in ‘a.’
Kin: I’m pretty ashamed to admit this, but I found this by Googling something like ‘Japanese names starting with K.’ I read a lot of manga so I’m pretty familiar with Japanese names, but I wanted something short and simple and everything I was thinking of that might fit… wasn’t. I don’t know if Kin is actually a name used in Japan. It can mean a few things, including ‘silver.’ But that character is usually pronounced with a hard G sound—Gin. (Like the Ginza shopping district?) I’ve never seen Kin used as a name.
But… it fit him so well that I had to use it. And I like to think that maybe, when his mothers were picking out his name, his American mother liked the way Kin meant family to her—a family she made. True, this is a happy accident on my part, but… I’m sort of in love with the idea of it.
(Regarding pronunciation, the correct Japanese pronunciation would be something closer to Keen. I call him Kin in my head, and I figure most readers will, too. Either is fine. I figure he probably gets called Keen by his mother, Midori, and the Japanese fey, and maybe by Luca. But most people might call him Kin, like the English word, since that’s how it’s spelled. I don’t think he minds. *author gets way too involved in thinking her characters are real*
Riyad: Again, I don’t know if this is a name that would actually be used. It is the name of the capital of Saudi Arabia. It’s also an Arabic word meaning garden. It was perfect for Riyad. (For a long time, his name as I wrote was a collection of letters that weren’t even pronounceable. I just wanted to use them in his name.)
Midori: This is, as far as I know, a relatively common Japanese name. It means ‘green.’
Saben: This had a ton of thought put into it but doesn’t actually have a lot of significance. Saben’s name was originally Kenta, which is… a Japanese boy’s name. I just loved the sounds. But my editor pointed out that it might be better not to have two characters with names starting with the same letter, so it was a good option to change it. Saben is, I think, a boy’s name also. I like gender swapping names. It took me forever to find it, and I went back and forth with a lot of things, but ultimately, this suited her really well.