My own experience with a different surname really drove this point home to me quite dramatically, and here's the story: I grew up with a Russian-sounding surname which no one could pronounce, so I spent the first 25 years of my life spelling it over and over and over again. But then, when I was married to my first husband whose surname was Taylor - hey, presto! I was suddenly very popular and well-liked, and even received compliments such as "nice name!" from a complete stranger when I introduced myself on the phone while at work!
Nowadays, I'm happy with my second husband and his name, Underwood, which I gladly use because it's much easier to spell and pronounce than my maiden name!
With this in mind, I always consider the names of my characters very carefully, and it was an extra challenge because the setting is fantasy – or alternate history at best, so a common name like Bob or Jane just wouldn’t do. We all have a mental image of what a Bob or Jane would look like, just as we connect an image to most other words and names. A name determines our identity, so it's a big deal to create a character and a name to make a whole new identity with whom the reader can identify.
Sometimes, certain characters have actually determined the outcome of a sub-plot due to their own individual view of a matter, and many times, when I’ve had to consider the next steps in a story and how each character would be affected, would they feel and react, I’ve been shown several alternate paths the story could take. So I really must give some of the credit to the characters who have come alive on the pages of RHUNA!