The naming of characters is a difficult matter
(Look, I couldn’t resist the T.S. Eliot reference, I’m only human.)
To be more serious, the names of characters are something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I got a great reader question about it this week, and that makes it a wonderful time to share some of how I do this.
To be honest, there’s a lot of staring at my list of names and sighing a lot. But I also have established patterns that help me sort out what I’m doing with the names.
(As a note, links to character names in this post will go to their WorldAnvil pages so you can see where they appear most easily.)
Lords & Ladies: A guide to the land magic
Are you curious about the land magic? Carillon’s background? What it means to be a Lord in Albion?
Did you know there’s a new novella out? It’s my treat if you sign up for my newsletter. (Feel free to unsubscribe when you need to, of course. But I hope you’ll stick around, at least for an email or two that will let you get all the other treats I share with my newsletter subscribers.)
Ancient Trust is all about what happens when Geoffrey Carillon inherits the title on his brother’s death. It has quite a lot about the land magic customs at Ytene. It also led to some interesting questions from a reader.
(I love reader questions. Sometimes I haven’t settled on my final answer about something. But I’ll let you know if you ask something I can’t answer yet. Or if you ask something that’s too much of a spoiler for something that’s coming out in the future.)
It got me thinking, how do the Lords of Albion engage with the House of Lords? Is attending Westminster an additional responsibility for Carillion? Do Albion peerages result in having the right to sit in the House? And what about the women? How does the Land Magic recognise women?
These are great questions – and also some that I haven’t quite found the right place to get into text. Let’s take this one by one in an order that should help.
Welcome to Schola!
I had a fabulous time working with the map designer who did my previous two maps to do a map of Schola.
A little bit more… (topics and magic in Albion)
Today in our ongoing tour of the authorial wiki, a bit about some other topics. Today, we’re taking a look at the topical pages, which come in two groups, Magic and Topics.
People together (groups and organisations)
Welcome to the next stop on the tour of the authorial wiki. Last time we talked about characters, so now it’s time to take a look at groups and organisations.
There are a number of common group connections in Albion – notably related to the Five Schools, but also secret societies and professions. Read more about the professional and social organisations in general over here.
We’ve talked about extras, maps, and timelines in our tour of my authorial wiki. Now it’s time to talk about characters. Every point of view character has a page. (That means everyone who’s been the point of view in a novel, novella, or extra…)
Maps: The place where it happens
Time for stop 3 on our tour of the authorial wiki, maps! Today we’re going to look at two sets of maps, one for Albion as a whole, and one for Trellech, the main magical city. My maps are by Michael MB, who did a fantastic job taking my sketches and making them usefully informative.
Timelines: Who, what and above all, when!
Welcome to the next stop on our tour of my authorial wiki (public version). Today, I want to talk about timelines and finding out when particular events happened.
One of the reasons I like WorldAnvil (the software I use for the public wiki) is the chance to create maps and timelines. With books ranging across the 1920s, a few Edwardian titles, and a couple during or just after the Great War, being able to put the books in order is key. I’ve currently got five different ways to get timeline information, read on to learn more about them!
Extras, get your extras!
What’s an extra?
Now and again, I write something extra. It can be a few thousand words, or thirty thousand.
It can be a bit of backstory I need to write out to keep going in the book. Or something that happens after the book ends that affects future events.
Sometimes, I just want to spend a little more time with those characters.
Other times, it’s a chance to get a bit of a story from someone else’s perspective.
I share these extras with my newsletter subscribers. And now I’ve got an easy way to let you know what extras there are (and what they cover).
Check out the Extras page on my authorial wiki for a short summary of each available extra. Click through on the title for each one to learn more about it. Scenes from the extras are also on my books and extras timeline.
Getting copies for yourself
If you’re already getting my newsletter, starting on June 3rd, 2022, there’s a link at the top of every newsletter that will let you download whichever extras you like without putting in an email address.
If you’re not already on my newsletter list, you can get all the extras here. You’ll need to enter your email address for each one (or sign up for one, get the first newsletter email, and then use the link there to get the rest. Up to you!)
I hope you’ll stay around on my newsletter for news about what’s coming soon, more extras, and a few links and snippets of information from my writing that week. I send an email most Fridays. But if that’s not for you, it’s fine to subscribe and unsubscribe as you see fit.
Threading characters through books
One of the things I love most about writing about Albion is being able to weave people through different books.
Sometimes this is in a big way. All the books in the Mysterious Charm series deal with people who are friends or allies or co-conspirators (as the case may be) with Lord Geoffrey Carillon.
But sometimes it’s more subtle.
Take Farran Michaels, for example. He first appears (if you read the series by number, which isn’t chronologically in time) in the first chapter of Goblin Fruit as one of the young men apprenticed to the auction house. He turns up later in Magician’s Hoard as a representative of the auction house (he’s now a more senior apprentice).
But how did he get there? And what’s with his particular gift for materia and objects? That’s where Seven Sisters comes in. While it’s his uncle who’s the hero of that book, Farran’s present for much of the action.
I love being able to tuck those little touches in. Albion is a sizeable community, but it’s not huge. With only a few more academically focused magical schools, people who went to those schools tend to know each other. Others interact in significant but small professional communities.
And, as an author, it’s a lot more fun to do a passing mention of a character I’ve already gotten to know in passing, rather than Random Standin#42.
Readers new to the series with that book should be able to follow everything, but people who’ve read and remember other books in the series should get a little bit of extra amusement, seeing a story from a different side.
It’s also a fun way for me to introduce characters who will be relevant in later books I’m already planning to write. You’ll be seeing more of a couple of guests from Carillon’s dinner party in On The Bias down the road, for example.
There is of course, one place right now where that’s a little trickier: Goblin Fruit and On The Bias. It’s very hard to disentangle Carillon (Lord, investigator, and Pavo breeder) from Benton, his valet. However, I also enjoyed the chance to see a bit more of Benton’s very real skills and talent, and to learn more about why Benton has chosen that role and service for some very good reasons.