A Surfeit of Archies


Ask any author. Naming characters is a solemn task. Some of us agonize for hours. Days. Consider and cast away dozens of names till we are satisfied.
Sometimes the name drops from the sky and flutters down onto the shoulders of our protagonist or antagonist or bit player and it is JUST RIGHT.

So when an ex-punk rocker showed up in the book I’m writing, I needed a name that would suit his pierced, tattooed, working class Brit persona. It came to me out of the blue.




No, this is not my Archie.


Archie Bunker

This isn’t my Archie either

The more I wrote about my Archie the more I liked him. His name buried itself into his psyche and mine and now whenever I write—or rewrite—a scene with this particular character, he is the personification of all things Archie. The name has shaped the man.

Well, too bad. I’m going to have to perform major surgery and remove “Archie” from Archie and give him a new name. It is all the fault of a 7 pound infant born in England.

I blame his parents. Prince Harry and Meghan, in spite of hundreds and hundreds of names available, chose my punk-rocker’s name and that has changed everything.

Don’t try to convince me to keep the name. I have my pride. Even though my Archie was named before the couple even got married, anyone reading the book (if it gets published. Please let it get published) will be reading it AFTER the world has fawned all over that other Archie. And will assume I got my name from little Mr. Popularity.

Am I bitter? You betcha. This has happened to me before. In my first book, my wonderful hero was originally named Tubal. After Tubal in the Bible. My publisher thought it was after tubal—a woman’s surgical procedure. (Note: my Tubal’s Biblical namesake was around thousands of years before the first woman had her tubes tied.)

I could see her point, though, and after agonizing and searching Scripture I came up with “Ezra.” But he will always remain Tubal in my heart.

So anyway. My Archie needs a new name. A great sort of Cockney or maybe Scots working-class kind of name. It has to be just right for him. He isn’t any happier than I am about this and we are both trying not to hold it against that newborn living in Frogmore Cottage across the pond. We assume him to be unaware that he just stripped my Archie of his name. Nay. His whole identity. Nothing suits my Archie as well as Archie.

So blessings to Baby Archie and his royal family. Maybe I will get literary vengeance if, when he hits 16, he wants to look like MY Archie.



Top Image by Mihai Surdu from Pixabay

12 thoughts on “A Surfeit of Archies

  1. Love this! Hilarious! I’ve had the same experience with naming a character only to have someone else “steal” it. On top of that, the only Archies I’ve ever known are the ones you’ve pictured here–the cartoon guy of Riverdale and Archie Bunker. So this 7-lb baby royalty has a lot of baggage weighing him down already. Maybe if he has a sister, she’ll be named Veronica? Or Betty.

  2. I hear you. I ran into a similar situation with the novel I’m writing, and I have no one to blame but myself, because I am such an ignoramus when it comes to popular culture. My protagonist is a college student, and one of her friends is a guy who has nine younger siblings. In the first draft of the book, all ten of the kids in that family had names that started with J. It wasn’t until I’d completed the first draft that I even became aware of what most people think of when you’re talking about a huge family whose kids’ names all start with J. Sigh…. I had to rename all of the kids, then go through the whole story (no small undertaking) and root out every mention of their original names and replace them with the new, improved names.

    For me, the name Archie brings to mind two characters, both of them creations of my favorite author, P. G. Wodehouse. One is Archibald Mulliner in the Mr. Mulliner series, and the other is Archibald Moffam in “The Indiscretions of Archie.” Both are hilarious, but neither one is someone I would name a son for. A dog or cat, maybe. 🙂

    • HA! I know the J family whereof you speak. Shoot! At least you didn’t have to go back and rename 17 kids. Or is it 19?
      Here I thought I was up to date on all my Wodehouse characters but the Archibalds must have slipped through the cracks. Time to haul out my books. (When we made the mistake of telling people we were naming our firstborn “Sam” we got a lot of “We had a dog named Sam” responses.)
      You will let us all know when your book comes out. Right?

      • No, no families with 17 or 19 kids, thank goodness. Renaming nine of them was bad enough (I let the one of the ten kids keep his original name).

        And if you haven’t read Mr. Mulliner’s stories about his nephew Archibald Mulliner recently, you really owe it to yourself to do so. They made me laugh out loud repeatedly, and heaven knows we need all the laughs we can get.

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