Okay, I'm a name freak. I adore finding out what first names mean and layering that into my stories and characters. It makes me happy.
When it comes to surnames, I'm a bit less sure of myself. I don't know what they mean half so well -- I'm actually not even that fussed, so long as it doesn't have an obviously off one -- and I don't always know if they sound as good as I think they do. Or if I am using the name of someone I know. (Yes, I once accidentally created and killed off a character that turned out to be a girl from my English class.)
But while working on my current WIP, currently called Miss Snitch, I spur of the moment needed a surname for my character, and I hadn't thought of one yet, and the first name that came to mind was Chen. Not sure why, except that it's very common around where I am.
But Chen? What was I thinking? First of all, if my character's name is Jen Chen, I'll kill her myself. Why would I ever do that to someone? Second of all, she's not even Asian. She's a Caucasian, a brunette. Weird, I think so.
A second character needed a surname. The first name that came to mind: Lin. I know what you're thinking, what's with all the Asian names? Honestly, I don't know.
David Lin. Actually, I kind of like that for his name. I have no objection to the character being Asian, as long as he gets to keep having green eyes.
I think we can all see by now that I tend to pick surnames mostly at random for my characters, unless there's some sort of abiding theme I'm going for, like I did in the Thief Book when class indicated by name. While I'm sure Freud would have some interesting things to say about the name's I've chosen, I choose not to delve into that area of my mind. Who knows what I could find back there.
How do you go about picking surnames for your characters?