I do a TON of research when choosing character names; and not just for primary characters. I put a lot of thought into names for secondary, and even ‘walk-on’, characters. I do this because, as a reader, I’ve always been heavily influenced as to the characteristics and demeanor of a character by the name that the author chose. In real life, a middle school bully might be named Johnny Johnson (I speak from experience), but that name would rarely fit for a work of fiction. But, obviously, research becomes all the more critical when choosing names for stories set in unfamiliar parts of the world and also in historical settings.
For the inaugural novel of the Sons of Kalev series (I sure hope it’s a series!), the story deals predominantly with two cultures: Hebrew and Egyptian. It took only a little research – and a bit of logical deduction – to understand that, after 430 years of living in Egypt, the Hebrew culture would become, at least partially, diluted by the dominant Egyptian culture surrounding them day after day, year after year. So, at the start of the story, I will have Egyptian characters with Egyptian names integrated seamlessly within the an Egyptian world, and Hebrew characters with Hebrew names, integrated into the same Egyptian world with varying degrees of acceptance of that world, much like the Jews have been since the time of the Babylonian captivity.
That being said, my novel starts with eight primary characters, all from a prominent household in Memphis, the Egyptian capital – five Egyptian and three Hebrew:
Nebnakht – A palace scribe in the service of Pharaoh
Ankhti – His wife, a socialite
Abdkadjed – Their first-born son who is learning to be a scribe, like his father
Pamunedes – Their second son, an officer in Pharaoh’s army
Khaba – Their third son, a devotee of Ptah, the patron deity of the city of Memphis
Mered – Of the tribe of Levi, master of servants of the household
Kalev – Of the tribe of Y’hudah (Judah), servant of the house
Ahuva Bat Aset – Of the tribe of Gad, maidservant of the house