It's virtually impossible to create normal character names that haven't been used. I am sure there are loads of Linzi Hugheses and Michelle Hamiltons.
But one of the characters in my novel "Money Can't Buy Me Love" (coming out in September with Secret Cravings Publishing) is an obnoxious footballer who plays for Manchester United. Obviously he has to be fictional as I am going to have him do all sorts of distasteful things and he is not a very nice person.
I initially gave him the name of Shane Long as I thought of a hilarious play on words on his name, which you will have to read the book to find out. Came home, told my husband all about it, said, jokingly, “I hope there isn't a real footballer with the same name.”
My husband said, “Oh I think he plays for Reading.”
Obviously I thought he was kidding at first but played along and looked him up - and guess what!
So, then I decided on Sean Long, only to discover that he plays Rugby for Hull:
Next choice was Seamus Long - surely this one had to be available. But apparently Seamus Long plays football for Waterford United in Ireland:
So unless I went with Sherlock or Sheridan, or change it entirely and lose the joke, I decided to go with Shaun Long and hope that Sean Long doesn't sue me :o(