[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have author Jeffe Kennedy guest post on the site today. Take it away, Jeffe!]
One of the things about writing fantasy is that the story is, well, literally not of this world. Especially the kind of romantic fantasy I write, which is alternate world. That means I get to make everything up.
Thing is, though—even though I’m a huge fan of the MSU method (Make S**t Up)—I still have to ground everything in a world readers already understand. Cuz, if I wrote a book in an entirely alternate world language, no one’s going to get far reading that. So, what I do when I need to name a person, place or thing in my fantasy world, is Google it, then modify the word in some way.
You know how authors always joke about how an investigation of our Google searches would make us look crazy, if not criminal? Um, yeah.
While writing THE ORCHID THRONE, I saved a bunch of links for things I Googled.
Like the ancient Greek to English dictionary and the Irish Gaelic dictionary. There’s also the Elizabeth Golden Age images, orchid images, and—of course!—Origami Maniacs.
But the real rabbit hole of a search came in when I went to name my hero’s favorite weapon. See, Conrí has been working in a mine since he was boy, and when he leads a rebellion of prisoners to escape, it’s not like he had a sword handy. What he does have is basically a bag of rocks. He makes a bag of fabric salvaging from the clothing of other prisoners who’ve died, gradually fills it with rocks he can collect when the guards aren’t looking—and there you have it: a heavy, blunt weapon he swings with devastating effects.
So, what is that kind of weapon called?
I Googled everything I could think of.
Sling No—because you hurl rocks out of one.
Mace No—that has a shaft with a heavy thing on the end.
Flail This popped up because people Google what’s the difference between a mace and a flail. Turns out that a flail is a mace that has the head attached by a chain rather than to the shaft. Who knew? Also: not what I was looking for.
Incidentally, the same search taught me that a morning star is a medieval weapon consisting of a spiked ball mounted on a shaft, resembling a mace, but with spikes! A mace has, at most, flanges or small knobs. Go figure! Also: still not what I was looking for.
Okay, time to get serious. I flexed my fingers, juiced up my Google-fu and went for more elaborate search strings.
“What is a bag of rocks called?” All landscaping stuff. Surprisingly many images of piles of rocks.
Changing to “sack of rocks” yields lots of explanations on what “dumber than a sack of rocks” means.
“Bag of rocks as a weapon” Did you know some schools have had to ban students bringing bags of rocks as weapons? Me neither. Also, apparently Crown Royal bags are excellent for this purpose.
“Improvised weapons rocks” is even worse—more than you ever wanted to know about rock-throwing.
People, I went to every medieval weapons website I could find. The Google, it had failed me.
Then I went to my medieval weapons-enthusiast friends. (Right? We all have at least one.) They all had great suggestions for fancy weapons names. Nothing for what I needed.
You know what I finally did? I named Conrí’s weapon a bagiroca. Sounds pretty good, huh? One of my beta readers asked me, with a puzzled frown, “Is this word basically ‘bag of rocks?’”
Yes. Yes, it is.
About the Author:
JEFFE KENNEDY is an award-winning, bestselling author who writes fantasy, fantasy romance, and contemporary romance. She serves on the Board of Directors for SFWA as a Director at Large.
Her most recent works include Prisoner of the Crown and the upcoming Exile of the Seas, from her high fantasy trilogy from Rebel Base books, The Chronicles of Dasnaria, in the same world as her award-winning fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms. She is a hybrid author, and also self-publishes a fantasy series, Sorcerous Moons. Her books have won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015, been named Best Book of June 2014, and won RWA’s prestigious RITA® Award.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and on Twitter @jeffekennedy.
The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy, out today!
In the Forgotten Empires magic is forbidden, dreams are destiny, and love is the greatest power of all…
A PRISONER OF FATE
As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Lia will do anything to keep her people free―and her secrets safe―from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world―a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…
A PRINCE AMONG MEN
Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Lia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes―nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?