A surname can say a lot about a person.
By the surname on my birth certificate, for instance, a person could easily conclude that my ancestors are German.
They are. As a matter of fact, three of my grandparents are 100 percent German. The other grandparent is mostly German...and a little bit Dutch.
My father-in-law tells me that the only difference between the two is what side of the bed you roll out of in the morning. He's what you call a Heinz 57 -- a lot of Northern European, a little Scandinavian and a couple of fill-in-the-blanks.
His wife -- my mother-in-law -- is 100 percent Polish. Shortly after they married, my in-laws settled and raised their six children in the village where she grew up. Almost everyone there is of Polish descent. My in-law's last name sticks out like a sore thumb amongst all of the surnames ending in -ski in the phone book.
You'd never guess my husband is half Polish. (Not by his name anyway.)
I spend a lot of time thinking about surnames and how they relate to characters.
I nearly drove myself mad coming up with good Italian names for two of the characters in Long Road. After a long, drawn-out search, one ended up with Vacanti and the other ended up with Tyler.
Not very Italian, I know. What can I say? His mom -- Gloria (nee Baldassare) Tyler -- married into it. Just like my mother-in-law married into hers.
I find myself wondering about how authors chose surnames for his/her characters. Are they named after someone? Are their characters' names a amalgums of the names of people the author knows in real life?
I'm very curious.
How do you come up with the last names for your characters?