Please welcome fantasy author S.K. Randolph to the Blood-Red Pencil today.
While in college, I was introduced to fantasy fiction for the first time. I read and reread Tolkien’s Trilogy and The Hobbit, immersed myself in Narnia, and devoured everything I could find by Ray Bradbury, Ursula Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Patricia McKillip, Sharon Shinn, and the list goes on. This resulted in an ever-deepening desire to create my own world, to write fantasy.
In 2003, while on a sabbatical from Interlochen Center for the Arts, I began my first novel. Immediately, I encountered a stumbling block—naming my world/worlds and the characters that inhabited them. Always a lover of word games, I started playing with anagrams as means of achieving this. The puzzles, the acts of discovery, and the outcomes fascinated me.
First, I selected the word of origin based upon a characteristic of the place, object, or character to be named. For example, I needed to name a tower at the center of a forest filled with secrets—the Terces (Secret) Wood. Since the tower was mysterious and magical, I choose the word Enchantment as my springboard. Next, I reversed the letters . . . tnemtnahcne. This removed me from any preconceived notions about the word. Then I began to juggle the letters around. The end result had to look and sound right. In this case, I found Nemttachenn . . . Nemttachenn Tower.
Naming characters followed a similar process. In Book 1 of The Unfolding Trilogy, I needed a name for my antagonist. By clearly describing him and listing the characteristics of his personality, I came up with Demon’s Eyes . . . snomed seye. I preferred the words reversed (eyes demons), but the name still needed a little tweak to flow right. So I shifted the “s” from “demons” to “eyes” and christened him Seyes Nomed. The name fitted perfectly.
Although not every name is an anagram, the majority are. I always listen when a word pops into my head from that intangible, creative place from which ideas flow; but when I am stumped, I find my anagram game always provides an answer.
How do you create names for your fantasy stories or other novels?
S. K. Randolph wrote The DiMensioner's Revenge, Book 1 of the The Unfolding Trilogy that was published in July 2011. Book 2, The ConDra's Fire, is scheduled to be released this fall. She lives on a boat in Alaska.