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Old Oct 17 2009, 06:50 AM   #2
Kaelar of Kolmar
Lanen's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Body in Scotland, head in Kolmar
Gender: F
Fan of: The Ship Who Sang
Now Reading: Winds of Change and Shaping
Default Re: Who is Elizabeth Kerner?

Hiya Litwolf - thank you for the kind comments! I tend to agonize over names - I guess every writer does to some extent - and it really cheers me to hear that I get it right now and then.

As for where they come from - hmm, that's a tricky one. Maran Vena came to me in that form when I was 14 and thinking about my own mythology, only just being created and very Tolkien-derived at that time. (25 years later I met a German gal called Maren, and was disappointed to realise that it's fairly common in Germany!) The name of her daughter Lanen Kaelar came to me later, but again, in its entirety.

Many of the other names are just slightly unusual variants of standard names - Willem, Walther, Marik and Jamie are Will, Walter, Mark and James, just from different countries.

Vilkas, as a name and a character, has existed from a very early stage of my development of Kolmar (I even drew a portrait of him way back then, and I can't draw!). He hasn't changed one iota since that time, except that he acquired his patronymic ta-Geryn when Aral got ticked off at him. I first "met" him when he was a lot older and less angst-ridden. Varien - and yes, I was worried about having two "V" names for major characters! - just appeared as a use-name for the changed Akhor when I wrote the end of Song in the Silence.

As for the Kantri names - they are from deep inside my poor mad mind. Akhor's true name showed up in its entirety, believe it or not! For many of the others, I would get the use-name first, and then had to play around with various syllables (out loud) until the true name sounded right. Also, Kantri names tend to grow with time. Shikrar's full true name used to be rather different, but after so many centuries of teaching, the "Hadre-" (teacher) particle became attached to him for good. And I don't mean this literally (honestly, I'm not crazy), but I find that if I listen to what my characters are telling me about their names and their personalities, I am likely to come up with something that has more depth than my conscious mind would have hit upon.

As for other minor characters, I sometimes dive into my Anglo-Saxon and Middle English sources - dictionary, glossary to Sweet's Anglo Saxon Reader, glossary to Early Middle English Verse and Prose, that kind of thing. I tend towards northern names in any case - Anglo-Saxon, Middle English, Old Norse, Finnish - but I tend not to use them unchanged. I'll alter an ending, or shorten them, or just use a generic name and give it a twist.

Heh - one character from Redeeming the Lost, Chalmik, was in fact based on a person I met online. I used to frequent a board called Imladris, now the Council of Elrond. We had chatted a lot over the years, and he challenged me to put him in my next book. On a whim, I did. His username on the boards was Mik, so I just found a particle that went with it and Chalmik was born.

Placenames are a bit different - Elimar has, I suspect, elements of Elsinor (where Hamlet hung out!) and Shalimar and goodness knows what else from my subconscious. Rowanbeck, where my dear Will is from, is just a slightly older way of saying "stream with rowan trees on the banks" - lots of old British placenames are descriptive in nature, and I find this works if you can, as it were, disguise it a bit. Use an older form or an obsolete/archaic form (e.g., using "beck" instead of "stream" or "river" - yes, I know they mean different things, but hey, a little poetic licence here!) to get across a feeling of antiquity. Eynhallow, on the other hand, is a straight lift from a map, there's a tiny island in the Orkneys called Eynhallow, and the moment I saw it I knew I just had to use it. Steven and I stayed in a B&B just across the water from it this summer (I'd never seen it before). The name of the Trollingwood came, again, from a real place - somewhere in North Carolina, I think - though its origins in Kolmar are entirely different!

I have no idea if any of this will be of any use to you or not. The only thing I do that you might not is to say the names aloud when I think I have them right. That keeps me from making too many mistakes. Usually.

Heh - thanks for asking, and I hope I haven't bored you to bits with the answer.
That which you do by act of will you must answer for.
-from Winds of Change and Shaping, by Elizabeth Kerner
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