I like to play with words, to have fun with them. So when I started this story project I knew I wanted to use names that had some depth, that meant something, that incorporated word play.
The starting point for my names was my setting. It’s a small town. Matt Groening chose the name Springfield for his town in The Simpsons. Springfield sounds so generic it could be just about anywhere in the United States. I knew I didn’t want that. I wanted something unusual.
I tried things like Smithereens and Cahoots, but they didn’t really mean anything. They’re just words. And I realized that I also wanted something with a Christian influence, but not so blatant that it hit people over the head. Then it came to me, I’d call my town Pyonder.
“Pyonder?” you say. “What’s that mean?”
Well, Pyonder is a contraction. There’s an old hymn we used to sing in church when I was a kid that went, “When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.” But as a kid it sounded to me like,“When the roll is called a pyonder I’ll be there.” I had no idea what a pyonder was at the time. But it doesn’t matter now, I’ve found the perfect name for my town. I realize that very few people will catch the reference by just reading the story. But I’m okay with that.
What’s next? My protagonist. He’s the Mayor of Pyonder. So, what can I really say about a mayor? I wasn’t quite sure, but rhyming seemed like a good place to start. Quickly I landed on Mayor Prayor. To me that means he’s a man of prayer. I don’t know if there’s an actual word for someone who prays, because “prayer” is what we say when we pray, not who we are. So, I changed the spelling and once again, I came up with a name that has a religious significance, but not obviously so.
As I bring in new characters I’ll post something about the origins of their names. I don’t know how long I can keep this up. I’m sure that at some point this word play thing is going to fail me. But right now it’s working.