I think one of the reasons characters come to life on the page is because of their quirks. I never start a character off with any idiosyncrasies but they quickly appear. Morrow, beautiful as she is, tends to stammer terribly when under pressure. And my very virile Irishman, Colonel Cassius McLinn, brings my manuscript to a screeching halt in strategic places, not to relieve himself, but to lose his lunch! He has a weak stomach. Not an admirable trait for a Revolutionary War officer but not that uncommon either, per old letters, diaries, and other documents. War was not pretty and the sights, smells, and impressions of the frontier could try the strongest stomach.
My next novel is unfolding in my mind more slowly than I like but right on schedule. I don't ever get another novel idea till the one I'm working on is almost done. I don't know how other writers keep 3-4 books going at once. I wish I worked that way. Call me a poor multi-tasker! My research for this next one is daunting as so little has been written on this particular apprenticeship/trade and the books available are upwards of $100 or so. Thank heavens for inter-library loan!
One of my first things I think about when creating a new book is character names - guess you have to name your babies first before you begin to live with them and really know them. And I like unusual names, if you hadn't guessed, like Lael and Morrow:) Roxanna stars in The Locket and that's a pretty tame name. I like to go over historical records and peruse names but they were usually very mundane or highly undesirable - Wealthy or Cotton or Ichabod or Hepzibah, etc. Many were Biblical. I recently came across the twins, Love and Mercy Minott, born in Massachusetts in 1702. Sweet! I'm not as fond of the names Submit or Silence. And in the case of my own family, you have two hundred years of William Blantons and then a Christopher Columbus Blanton pops up in the mid-19th century.
Hmmm...writing history is never dull! Do you have an unusual name or like any unusual names? If you're a writer, what's your favorite part about beginning a book?