I don’t know about other writers but I usually give a lot of thought to what I name my characters, particularly the main characters. Now that I’ve finished the Hallowed Treasures Saga, and the final book in the trilogy is off to my beta readers, I thought I would explain the rationale behind some of the names. And while there are probably around two hundred named characters in this book, most of whom were given names for a reason, these are some of the more important characters to the books:
The Princess had several names before I finally settled on Eluned (pronounced Eh-lee-ned). That happened when I realized the book had become a Quest for the Thirteen Hallowed Treasures, and I wanted the Princess to be named for one of them. That was easy. Naturally, she would take on the name of the Thirteenth Treasure: The Ring of Eluned or Eluned’s Ring and Stone: When it is placed on one’s finger, with the stone inside the hand and closed upon the stone, the wearer is invisible.
I decided that I wanted “the stone” to be a moonstone; I also decided I didn’t want the stone affixed to the ring as it gave me a little more latitude with its use.
Early in “The Path to Misery” Jabberwock explains his name to Eluned. He recites to her the poem, “Jabberwocky”, by Lewis Carroll, comparing himself to the Jabberwock in the poem:
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He renames himself Jabberwock the Bandersnatch because the poem reminds him of the genocide of his breed. In actuality, his name is Hiurau the Janawar.
Bonpo explains his name in “Death’s Dark Shadows”, the final book in the Hallowed Treasures Saga. He takes on this new name after he is exiled from the Kingdom of Dziron by his people, the Yeti, for causing the death of a human (all of which is learned in “The Path to Misery”.
Bon is an older religion which exists alongside Tibetan Buddhism. Bonpos, as followers of Bon are known, go to Buddhist temples, but turn their prayer wheels in the opposite direction from Buddhists. I chose to call him Bonpo because my husband was reading “The Snow Leopard” by Peter Matthiesson while we were hiking the Appalachian Trail, and we used to joke that southbound through hikers were “bonpos”. That is, they hiked against the natural order, so to speak.
Because Bonpo could no longer live as a Yeti, I saw him as going against the natural order of his fellow Yetis. What his real name is and why he chose Bonpo will remain a secret until after the publication of “Death’s Dark Shadows”.
Gwrhyr (pronounced Goor-heer) also explains the meaning of his name in “Death’s Dark Shadows”. Basically, I chose it because means something along the lines of “translator” in Welsh, and for those who know Gwrhyr, you know that he speaks most of the languages of the Thirteen Kingdoms.
When I created the character of the gypsy, Chokhmah, I pictured her as the wiser, older woman, who helps Eluned begin the transition from girlhood to adulthood. Because I already had some Romanian Jewish gypsy music that I listen to and really like, I decided to make her character part of a more Hebrew-like Roma community—thus the name, Chokhmah, which means “wisdom” in Hebrew.
I don’t actually remember why I chose Yona because when I came up with her character, I was also creating eleven other characters that were attending a dinner party at King Arawn’s castle in Prythew. I actually came up with the character of King Hevel of Adamah first (see below) and since his name was Hebrew, I decided to let his fiancée have a Hebrew name as well. In this case, I chose Yona, which means “dove” because “The Dove” was my trail name while through hiking the Appalachian Trail, and I already liked the character at this point although I didn’t realize then how important she would become.
This character doesn’t appear until the second book, “In Lonely Exile.” Choosing his name was easy. It means “little wolf” in Irish. And, if you read the book you’ll understand the inside joke. Faolan is pronounced “fway-lahn”.
Queen Njima of Naphtali is mentioned in the first book because Eluned would really like Yona to meet her, but she doesn’t appear until the second book. The inside joke here is that Njima means “dove” in Swahili. And that’s all I’m giving away.
The Three Kings
King Arawn of Annewven:
King Arawn (pronounced aroun like in ‘around’) received his name because Arawn is the god of the underworld, terror, and war in Welsh mythology and resides in Annwn (Annewven in this case). As I was listening to King Crimson’s “In the Court of the Crimson King” while writing a large part of the first book, I decided to make him the “Crimson King” as well. Pretty much everything in his kingdom has ties to Welsh mythology.
King Hamartia of Simoon:
Arawn’s right hand man, so to speak. Hamartia is from the Greek and means to “miss the mark” or “to err”.
King Hevel of Adamah:
Hevel is also Hebrew and is difficult to define, but I was thinking of Ecclesiastes 1:2 when I chose it. It literally means “breath”, but in this case it means: meaningless, hollow, futile, useless, vain, which King Hevel clearly is.
Queen Fuchsia of Zion:
While she never actually appears in the book, Eluned’s great grandmother is important because of her books and because of her life. She hid her romance novels in the window seat in the room that becomes Eluned’s bedroom. It is both because of these novels that Eluned reads repeatedly, and the fact this woman ran away from her life as a queen to become an actress, that Eluned wants to experience adventure.
I gave her the name Fuchsia in homage to the Lady Fuchsia in the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. Originally, Eluned had this name and her looks are somewhat based on Peake’s Fuchsia.
Is there a name you wonder about?
It is finished. What began with the idea of one character in college (more than thirty years ago) and progressed to the concept of a Princess discovering the world beyond her father’s kingdom about ten years later, before morphing into the concept of a Divinely-inspired Quest to gather together the Thirteen Hallowed Treasures, has finally come to an end.
From The Path to Misery to In Lonely Exile to the final book in the saga, Death’s Dark Shadows, it needed more than 380,000 words to tell the tale.
The photo above shows what it took (for me) to accomplish writing a fantasy set in a post, post apocalyptic world over the course of more than three years of travel set within Thirteen Kingdoms.
Dozens of notecards detailing characters, food, lodgings, details about each of the Kingdoms and the Treasures, among other things, were absolutely essential. I also made calendars to keep track of where the characters were and how long it took them to reach their destinations.
In Death’s Dark Shadows, I was able to maintain continuity by checking facts against the books that had already been published. I even went so far as to make notes and drawings in Eluned’s leather-bound journal.
Hopefully, Death’s Dark Shadows will see publication in the late spring (it’s still in edits). And now I will turn my attention to the possibilities of what I will write next: Romantic Suspense? Historical Romance? Or a series of books for 7- to 12-year-olds?
In Lonely Exile: Book II in The Hallowed Treasures Saga is now available at Amazon for 99¢. Click here to see the book at Amazon.
About the Novel
A princess and her eclectic companions continue their quest to collect 13 mythical treasures in this epic-fantasy sequel.The book begins with Yona stealing the Hamper of Gwyddno Garanir as the remainder of her compatriots await her arrival in Favonia. From there, the Quest continues to the Kingdom of Dyfed as they search for Nyx, the unicorn wearing the Halter of Clydno Eiddyn. From Dyfed, they travel to the Kingdom of Naphtali where the must search the ruins of the previous capital, Kamea, for the Crock and Dish of Rhyngenydd the Cleric. As their adventures continue, they add two more companions to the Quest.
Kirkus Review said:
“the series continues to stand out for its foregrounding of friendship,
diplomacy, and exploration over gory sword fights.
A delightful reunion with old friends, sure to leave fans of strong female heroines craving the final installment.”