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12 Books in 12 Months

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haggis

How To Name A Character

I often come up with character names ahead of their personalities.  Not always, but often.

But when someone else comes  up with your character for you, it’s a little bit harder to name them.  I am in the process of writing book five, and before I started I had a suggestion from the lovely Arielle Bosworth (click her name to go to her blog) that “your protagonist should be a talking sheep who is also a wizard. It could be amazing.”

She went on to explain, quite rightly, that “sheep are entirely unrepresented in the fantasy genre.”  And if I don’t rectify this glaring omission, who will?

However, I had to then come up with a name for this character.  So I thought about it a bit, and decided perhaps I would gain some insight from looking up ‘sheep’ and ‘wizard’ in other languages.  This is what transpired:


I googled the Latin first.  Dead languages are pretty fantastical, after all.

In amongst all the adverts I found my answer – ‘Ovis Aries’.  Naturally the first two names that came to mind that sound a bit like these were ‘Ovid’ and ‘Archie’ – both of which could work.  Ovid, Roman poet who was very popular in the middle ages, unusual first name which could mark him out as special; and Archie, short for Archibald, a fairly old fashioned name meaning ‘brave’ which this sheep will have to be in order to complete his quest.  Whatever that is.

There was only one thing for it – I had to appeal to the internet for help.

And Twitter spake unto me saying:

And I thought ‘hm, the ideas I have for this are less mystical and aloof and probably more suitable for ten year olds.’  So I went on the facebook page to see whether they were in agreement.

And although the writing was rather small you could see that the Ovid tally rose ever further.

So, for the time being at least, that is what my wizard sheep is called – Ovid Archibald McHaggis.  One wonders how characters were named before the days of the internet.

How do you name your characters, other writers?  Do you have a set process, or is it a bit ad hoc, like me?  And do you ever change a character name half way through writing and then have to go back and check them all?

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Burns Night

Today I have mostly been researching Roman Feast Days that might have given Caligula an excuse to organise a party or three, and watching MTV Classic – easily the best of all the MTV channels, it turns out.  90s hour is particularly fun.

Some of the festivals include:

January 15th – Festival of the Ass

This was not a tribute to bootylicious Roman ladies, but a commemoration of the time the goddess Vesta was saved by a donkey.  Oh come on, you remember that story!  She was the daughter of Saturn the fertility god?  Known for her chastity?  In lieu of rohypnol a shady character by the name of Priapus decided to try and do the nasties with her whilst she was asleep?  But a donkey brayed and woke her up so she escaped?  Surely everyone knows this….

February 15th – Lupercalia

Celebration of the she-wolf who suckled Romulus & Remus. A load of priests got together in a cave, sacrificed a goat, and anointed the Lupercii – young blokes – with the blood. Then some other priests wiped the blood away, using milk, like the wolf would have done I suppose.  The boys then skinned the goat and ripped the hide into strips which they tied around their waists.  Oh, did I mention they were topless?  Well they were.  Then they then got pissed and ran around Rome whacking everyone they met with these goatskin thongs.   As in the aforementioned strips of hide, not the pants favoured by Sisqo.  Young women who got in the way were thought to be blessed, especially in terms of fertility and procreation.  Go them.

June 11th – Matralia

To celebrate the goddess Mater Matuta, her statue was decorated with garlands by single women or women who had been married once.  They also cooked her cakes in clay pots.  Those are the best kind of cakes, don’t you think?  One female slave was allowed into temple on this day, and as part of the festivities she’d be ritually slapped on the head and then chased out of the building.  BANTER.

Compared to his peers, you have to wonder whether Caligula was actually as eccentric as they say…

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