Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Guest Blog with Maria V. Snyder


author of the Study Trilogy...
(click on pics for our review)

the Glass Trilogy...

and the sci-fi novels Inside Out and Outside In (coming soon)...

She joins us today with a guest post titled...

The Insider’s Guide to the Study/Glass Book Names

Since SPY GLASS has recently arrived in the bookstores, I wanted to take a more in-depth look at all the different character names.  Many of my readers want to know why I chose these names and how to pronounce them (sometimes I get emails from friends who are fighting over the proper pronunciation!).  And thanks to Ariel, I’ve a reason to sit down and go through all 6 books set in Ixia and Sitia. Don’t worry, I’m not going to list them all – we’d all be sitting here for days!

When I picked names for POISON STUDY – I wasn’t as organized as I am now.  I would pick a name when I encountered a new character.  However, searching for a good name when I’m in the middle of writing was time consuming and could derail me for days (yes, I know it’s thinly disguised procrastination). But I did pick the main characters right away.

How, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  My favorite baby book is From Aaron to Zoe, 15,000 Great Baby Names, by Daniel Avram Richman.  Not only are there a ton of names and their meanings, but they’re from all over the world.  I also get names from the newspapers, magazines, someone I meet, or online.  And sometimes I use reader’s names ;>

Before I start a new story, I decide what theme I want in names.  For example in MAGIC STUDY I wanted the southern characters’ names to have a nature theme.  Now a few don’t, but the majority do.

Okay – so on to the names!

(no theme ‘cause it was my first book and I didn’t know what I was doing ;)

Yelena – I did want a name that was different, but easy to pronounce.  I saw the name listed as one of the most popular names in Russia and when I looked up the meaning, I was sold.  Her names means “bright one” or “shining one.”  I thought since she started out in such a horrible place, she needed some hope.  I pronounce it Yeh-lean-a.

Valek – I made this up from Val Kilmer’s name.  Think of his character in the movie Top Gun – his call name was Ice Man – I don’t even remember his character’s real name.  I pronounce it Val-lick.

Commander Ambrose – for the longest time he was just The Commander. But when I needed another name, I named him for a coffee shop owned by a man I took a writing  class with. He was my partner for a couple exercises, but I can’t remember his name.

Ari & Janco – made up on the fly. I thought I’d change their names later ;)

Margg – named for an ex co-worker of mine who I hat…er…didn’t like. Her name is Margie.

Rand – named for my brother-in-law, Randy who is a butcher.

(nature & gemstone theme)

Leif – Norwegian and means “beloved” – not exactly Leif in this book, but I wanted a short name that started with an L because my son’s name is Luke and I didn’t want to use his name.  Also since I pronounce it Leaf – like a tree leaf – it matched the theme.

Irys – a different spelling of Iris – like the flower.  Her name had been Petal, but my editor didn’t like it – said it was too Disney so I changed it pronto!  Other flower names: Roze, Tula, and Violet.

Cahil – Turkish for “young, inexperienced and naïve.”  Need I say more?

Esau – I just liked the sound of his name – it’s Hebrew for “rough, and thick-haired.”

Bain – Gaelic for “fair bridge”  seemed a good name for a wise wizard.

Zitora – a combination of Ziva and Tori – two readers.

Perl – a different spelling of Pearl.  More gemstone names: Topaz, Opal, and in my other books there’s Onyx, Garnet, and Beryl (they’re mostly horse names).

Kiki – a real horse who I learned how to ride on.

Healer Hayes – named after my favorite doctor, Maria Hayes.

Goel – Hebrew for “the redeemer” – doesn’t match him too well, but I liked the sound of his name.

Moon Man – I had a friend called Mr. Moon (you don’t want to know why – trust me) and I thought it was a good name for a mysterious Story Weaver who coalesces from the moonlight.

Tauno – Finnish for “mighty in the world.”

Marrok – a form of Marcus, which is Latin for “war-like one.”

The Glass Books
(power, fire & weather theme)

Opal – she was already named in MAGIC STUDY, but her original names was Gale. My editor said it was too close to Goel so I had to change one.  Opal is not only a semi-precious stone, but the name of the lady in the Pickles comic strip (which I enjoy reading).

Kade – a friend of mine had twin boys she named Kenton and Kade. I liked them both, but when I looked them up, Kade fit with my theme.  His name is from Kadar, which is Arabic for powerful.  Perfect for my Stormdancer. (Kenton is an English place name).

Ulrick – comes from Old German and means ruler of all or wolf ruler.

Devlen  - is Irish/Gaelic and means brave/fierce.

Raiden  - is the name of the Japanese thunder god.  Other weather names: Nodin (Native American for “the wind”), Indra (Hindi god of storms), Varun (Hindi god of the sky and waters).

Aydan  - means little fire.  Perfect for a glassmaker. 

Opal’s parents are the names of my parents with slightly altered spellings – Vincenza and James turned into Vyncenza and Jaymes.  I needed to name them in FIRE STUDY and really didn’t think I see or hear from these characters again – which is why I’m always very careful…now!

I could go on and on about names as I have a million of them (or so it seems) in six books.  If anyone is curious about a name I didn’t mention, leave a comment and I’ll explain why I chose it!


  1. How did Dilana from Poison Study come about? Or Bavol in Magic Study? Or Jenniqilla?

  2. you can find a numerous of baby names in the below list... check it..

    Unique Baby Names 2010

  3. Well - I meant to check back here earlier...I don't know where the week went!

    I made up Dilana :)

    Bavol is Gypsy for wind and air

    Jenniquilla - is my daughter's name Jenna sort of mixed with Godzilla - when she was around a year old, she would crawl to my son's train tracks and start pulling them apart and try to eat the trains - so my son and I would call her Jennazilla. I tweaked it a little because I thought the Godzilla reference would be too obvious.


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