Names & Context
I'm writing this post as I watch the Emmy Awards. I suspect that if one looked at the names of characters in television shows and books, one would find more similarities to the names of babies born when those shows were aired or books were published than one would if one looked at real life adults the same age as the characters. Partly, of course, because names from popular culture inspire parents in naming their children. But also, I think, because the writers naming those characters are living in the same world with the same cultural influences as the parents naming their babies.
It can be a challenge, in historical fiction, finding a name that's historically accurate but still appeals to modern readers. Victorian names like Gladys or Edith would be problematic for the heroine of a novel written today, even if that novel was set in the late 1800s or early 1900s when those names were in vogue. On the other hand, a name like Jessica can sound modern and trendy though it's the name of a Shakespeare character and could certainly have been used historically (I used Jessica for Malcolm and Suzanne's daughter, though it didn't make my short list for my own baby girl because it did strike me as too trendy).
Authors, how do you choose names for your characters? Do you consider cultural influences when the characters were born? Readers, what matters more to you in the names of characters, historical authenticity or names you can relate to?