This past weekend I came across a couple of instances in which I wondered how it is that sometimes that people come up with names for characters that they create. The first instance was in Grimm Fairy Tales Myths and Legends. The first story arc is based around Little Red Riding Hood, whose actual name in this continuity is Britney Waters. Britney is a common enough name in recent years, but the part I found interesting was when a reporter showed up whose name was Miley Spears. Of course there is no way of knowing for sure (except if I could ask the author) but it seems to be a pastiche of the names Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus. The second thing which got me thinking this was an issue of Heart Throbs, a romance anthology from the 1970s, which contained four stories. In three out of the four stories the main female lead was named Kathy or Cathy. This comes down to editing and maybe poor planning, but the overuse of the name was still notable for the lack of coordination among the authors and editors.
With that in mind I though I might mention how I choose names for when I write fiction. One of my major sources these days is websites for baby names. These quite often have relatively detailed descriptions of names (some even have suggestions for choosing fictional names.) When I check a name I usually look up other famous people with that name just to see when it was popular and who made it popular. In the case of foreign names, I usually go another route, and one coincidentally which is available right now. With almost every nation in the world collected in one place, I find that combing through the names of athletes competing at the Olympics can be a good source of names for foreign characters. That having been said though, my routes for name choosing are not the only options. I am sure other have their own, and I would be interested to hear them.