At a book signing a couple of weeks ago a fellow author said jovially, "Well I see the main character in your new book is named Lydia Birn."
He leaned forward and winked at me several times. "Soooo--do you think anyone will figure out the similarity between your name and the lead character's? OH let me see...who MIGHT Lydia be modeled after in real life???"
I attempted to explain to him that at this stage of my life I bear a much closer resemblance to the character I named Abby than to Lydia, but he was still wagging his head and winking and I decided to ignore him.
Naming book characters carries with it a similar weight of responsibility to that of naming one's children, and I blush with the realization that giving my lead character a similar name to my own echoes past naming patterns. My husband's name is John, our son is Jonathan. My name is Linda, our daughter is Melinda. Since my husband is John Born IV I actually feel I was quite the rebel to call our son Jonathan rather than John, and I have lengthy explanations as to why Melinda's name has nothing to do with my own. No one ever believes me so I've stopped trying to correct the idea that I named my daughter after myself. You would think I'd have learned something from all the years of teasing I've endured for naming my daughter so that her name sounds as though I was literally trying to create a mini me: ME---Linda.
I've always had the name "Lydia" in the back of my mind as a name for the lead character in my novel and that was that, to have changed her name would have been like learning to call my best friend by a different name. I chose the last name Birn because I once had a child who called me "Mrs. Boin." I thought this so sweet that I wanted to include her darling foible in my book with no changes, and giving Lydia a similar last name to my own accomplished this. I needed a German surname, and Birn has Germanic roots. And so Lydia and John Birn are the lead characters in my book.
That's all the explanation I have. Lydia Birn is who she is and I can't change her now at this late date (unless my editor says I have to that is...).
If you'd like to see a brief characterization of the lead characters in The Children Are Tender, click here.