Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be bringing to you all a guest post courtesy of Rosalyn Kelly debut author of the fantasy book Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains Book 1).
I actually have two posts planned from Rosalyn. Today, as I have just mentioned is a guest post (which is a really cool read). Then, in the next couple of days, I will have an excerpt from her book Melokai for you all to read.
Guest Post: Naming my babies – how I came up with the perfect names for all my little darlings.
I have a confession to make. My favourite part of writing my debut epic fantasy novel Melokai was coming up with the character and place names. I’m very attached to every character I’ve created, every town I’ve named or race I’ve brought to life, and am as proud of each of them as if I’d just given birth to a new baby. And, well, naming those babies is important (and fun) because they will be stuck with those names forever and you don’t want to call a baby ‘Hercules Horatio’, when ‘Phil’ suits him better.
I enjoyed inventing character names SO MUCH that I had to delete a load of named characters from my first draft because my oh-so-honest beta reader said, “Seriously, babe, why name this character when he doesn’t even speak and is only in chapter five for one brief scene?” My beta reader was right, of course, but I’d just got carried away.
And here’s why.
Whilst I was writing the first draft of Melokai, I read the informative Genghis Khan: The man who conquered the world by Frank McLynn and it provided me with no end of interesting, old Mongolian names and places, ancient Indian, Chinese as well as Middle Eastern, people and locations. Just opening the book to any page provided endless name inspiration. For example, from a random page, look at these gems: Alaqai Beki, Ongud, Barshuq, Arslan, Kereit. I see those names and immediately imagine the person who could belong to them, get all excited and want to write them into a story or scene.
I named my characters in all countries apart from Fertilian with unusual, not typically Western, names because these places are not based on the Western world. These old Mongolian names certainly helped in that regard to spark my brain into putting letters together that are a bit awkward and don’t come so naturally to English speakers. Example: Peqkya (pronounced Peck-key-ah). QKY in a row – eek!
The characters in Drome were given more Arab influenced names which were inspired from my time living in Dubai, UAE. Most of the names have the heavy sounds found in Arabic, such as the ‘gh’ sound which sounds a bit like the ‘r’ in French and comes from the back of the throat like a gargle.
I had a lot of fun thinking of the old European surnames for my Fertilian characters, such as Iddenkinge, Doddy, Berindonck and Littlehales. My sister proved to be a great help with this and suggested out of the ordinary real-life names to me which she came across whilst working in Auckland, New Zealand. Chattergoon was one of hers – there are people out there in this world with this awesome surname! I needed a name for a fierce, reserved, able Lord of Fertilian who has a tough, dangerous job and Chattergoon was just right, because this man is not a chatterer and is definitely not a goon, and I felt the contrast was striking, and therefore memorable.
I also used the names of my family and friends, twisting them to fit in my world. So, Becky became Zecky. However, it’s important to note a disclaimer to said family and friends that because a character bares their name (or a passing resemblance), it does NOT mean that the character is based on them in any way! They could share their name with a villain or a dubious character or, in fact, the heroine.
And in terms of naming places, that was just as entertaining.
The scientific name for the Arabian camel is Camelus dromedarius and the name I decided on for my desert land and people was Drome, with the people called dromedars and the language they speak dromedari. The capital city I named Parchad, from the word parched, which best describes the conditions of the desert.
In contrast, the country of Fertilian is known for agriculture and its perfect crop growing landscape. I was looking for a name that would be memorable and linked to this country, so called it Fertilian for fertile lands.
Because there are many places, peoples and countries in Melokai, I choose names that were obviously linked to a specific country. For example, in Peqkya, where the children are not named by their parents but by the efficient Mothers who care for all children, female names all end in -ya and male names in -az. They are allocated on a rolling basis, so a new baby simply gets the next name on the list. No one has a surname because parentage is not important to Peqkians. Similarly, the wolves all have names with two Rs in them e.g. Darrio, because I imagined the wolves to make this sound, as in a growl ‘grrr’.
There’s much advice that suggests picking a name that sums up the character’s personality, for example a Mr Ratz, which implies a shady, sleazy, underground thief and villain, or Summer who is a breezy, carefree, happy, likable young college student. I didn’t do this in such as obvious way as I wanted the personalities of my babies to speak for themselves, and for their names to be subtler. Melokai has a more gritty, realistic feel than some high or heroic fantasy, so calling the witch something obviously witchy, like Mildred, wasn’t appropriate.
I can’t wait to start naming all my new darlings coming in book two and book three of the In the Heart of the Mountains trilogy – but perhaps this time, I won’t get so carried away, because killing your perfectly named darlings (even if it is just the unmemorable, mute guard who stands in the background for one scene) is actually pretty hard.
Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains Book 1).
She thinks it’s the end, but it’s just the beginning.
“Trouble will come from the east. A wolf will claim the throne.”
Legendary warrior Ramya has successfully reigned over Peqkya as Melokai for twelve years. Prosperous, peaceful, and happy, her people love her… or so she thinks.
But Ramya’s time is up. Bracing herself for the gruesome sentence imposed on all Melokais who have served their purpose, she hears instead a shocking prophecy.
Is the sudden appearance of a mysterious cave creature from the east the trouble the prophecy speaks of? Or is the threat something darker, more evil? And what of the wolves… does the ferocious war with their kind mark the end for Peqkya?
Before Ramya can answer, she and her fearless warriors must first crush a catastrophic rebellion that threatens to destroy her and devastate her beloved nation.
If you love elaborate fantasy worlds and deep worldbuilding, perilously high stakes, magic, brutal battles, intrigue, and unique creatures and beings, then MELOKAI, book one of the epic new fantasy trilogy In the Heart of the Mountains, is for you.
Pre-order Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains Book 1) released October 10th.
About Rosalyn Kelly (taken from a non-exclusive Q & A).
Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I currently live in the New Forest in the south of England and have lived in Oxford, Manchester, London and the Middle East, in Dubai. I love exploring new places and have travelled extensively around the world. I’m an avid reader, paint with acrylics and enjoy hiking and being outdoors. Before writing, I worked in PR and marketing for ten years for a number of internationally known brands.
Q. Favourite speculative fiction author?
Hard to answer – I have so many favourites. I could list these out, but this answer would go on forever… Recently I’ve really enjoyed reading Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer series.
Q. Best book you have ever read and why?
Again, I don’t have one stand out book that I consider the best I’ve ever read. I could pick so many, for different reasons – for example ones that made me cry when I needed a good cry, ones that have massively entertained me, ones that have taught me something new, ones that make me think about them for days after, ones that stoked my belief in love and so on. Honestly, I can’t pick one!
Q. Favourite epic fantasy book and why?
Too many favourites. One trilogy that really stood out to me was Godspeaker by Karen Miller. The first book Empress was brilliant.
Q. Why do you write epic fantasy?
I love the escape from reality that writing about an imaginary world brings. It’s much easier to be inspired when you are creating your own world, and all the rules and nuances, than being restricted to real life. Also, there is a lot of rubbish going on in our everyday lives that I often like to invert or reimagine. I ask myself: What if it was all turned on its head?
Q. What are some of your influences as a fantasy author?
I draw on everything to be honest. Firstly, my childhood. I was extremely lucky to grow up with two sets of involved Grandparents who encouraged imaginative play and were great storytellers. I spent most of my early years romping around castle ruins or stately homes, on the beach daydreaming or exploring the New Forest and learning about its history and legends. I also went to a school that is famously haunted. Our family holidays involved culture and history, and I was always reading and escaping to my own made up worlds.
At school, I was really into theatre and was in the school play every year. I did an English Literature and Language university degree and then went into a PR and marketing career where I wrote almost every day and had to be continually creative to come up with innovative ways to promote clients.
Travel, exploring new places and discovering new cultures has filled me with a bank of ideas and inspiration, and I made sure I organised my life, my finances and my work to be able to travel for long periods at a time and really immerse myself in the country or continent I was visiting.
I’m definitely influenced by other fantasy books and films, as well as all kinds of fiction. One of my favourite (geeky) things is to read National Geographic and New Scientist as these magazines often spark ideas and the natural world is full of endless wonder. I think continual learning and passionate curiosity has influenced me more than anything. I’m happily devoted to finding out about new things.
Q. How do you define success as a writer? Sales? Fame? Creative satisfaction?
Success to me is a bit of all three of those things. I’m passionate about writing, and producing stories that I’m proud of gives me immense creative satisfaction. Then I want readers to love reading what I’ve written, and am happy to lap up any positive feedback that comes my way. And then of course, I need to eat and pay the rent so sales are a winner too.
Q. What are you currently reading?
I have three books on the go at all times – one on my Kindle, one audiobook and a paperback. I’m currently reading Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (paperback), The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French (ebook) and listening to the audiobook of Red Notice by Bill Browder.
TTBG Side note: The highest of fives to Rosalyn for reading Prince of Thorns!!! 🙂
Q. Any book recommendations?
Wow, too many. I recently read and adored Paternus by Dyrk Ashton. It’s a unique blend of urban, contemporary, mythical fantasy. I’ve been recommending that quite a bit to people lately.
TTBG Side note: Dyrk appeared on my blog a few months ago with an excerpt from Paternus that you can find !!HERE!!
Q. What is the first book you remember ever reading or being read to you?
I recall being read The Hungry Caterpillar and putting my fingers through the holes. I remember reading Angelina Ballerina by myself, carrying around the book and looking for ages at Angelina on the big stage and everything that was happening underneath and outside of it.
Q. You thank your mum in the dedication, can go into detail on what role she has played in shaping your work?
My Mum is an absolute superstar! She has helped me enormously by being my critique partner, my editor, my beta reader, my proofreader. She’s read every piece of creative writing I have produced including short stories, novellas, novels. She is an avid reader and was previously an English lecturer so she knows her stuff. Having her on hand to read my early drafts has been invaluable. And she’ll do it almost immediately for me. A lot of people rely on critique or writing groups, which might take time to reply or only meet once a month, and sometimes writers don’t have anyone to share their work with, so I feel very fortunate to have her.
Q. What are your thoughts on attending conventions?
I’ve been to lots of spoken word events and literature festivals, but I’ve never attended a dedicated convention – however that’s about to change as in October I’m going to BristolCon. I’m very excited about it. Can’t wait to meet fellow authors and readers and soak up the atmosphere.
Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
I’m active across social media and on my blog. Some links here:
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