For today’s Indie Author Spotlight, I have a Guest Post from Luke Taylor author of newly released Vault of Dreams, and a Giveaway. Enter below to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card + an ecopy of Vault of Dreams. If you’re curious about my thoughts on VoD , read my review here.
I have always been inspired by names.
Such contain threads of commonality, nationality and universality that transcend the ages of history and yet still somehow possess rights of individual personality and originality. I must reference Shakespeare’s “…what is in a name…” with creative license, because when living the everyday inspired existence of a writer, I encounter names that demand, if not at least a second thought, a definitive right to print.
Let me explain.
When I was a young writer, I remember buying a brand new Play Station Two, and the only game we were able to purchase with it was Fifa 06.
For clarification, Fifa is an international soccer game and I have always loved international soccer and continue to watch it as much as possible (for anthropological studies and sporting enjoyment in equal measures) and not only did I enjoy the game but was taken aback by the bank vault of strangely beautiful new names I’d never seen before.
List upon list of foreign names, new spellings, consonant groupings; worlds of meanings within worlds contained by the digitzed face that represented a character, an idea, a nationality, a history, a race, a set of skills, a way of thought, a personality type, and on and on.
In a name I saw a facial tic, a way of holding a pen or removing a jacket; a penchant for black coffee and english muffins with bitter marmalade. Voices, hairstyles, walking gaits. Love of pets, trendy apartments, a fear of heights, superstitions; hopes and dreams.
All within a name.
So subsequently I furiously began to craft lists separated by distinguishing factors, keeping in mind that a certain genre or style of project merited the choosing of one name over the other. Sci-fi stories were as quick to steal names as crime thrillers, and suddenly my lists were full of crossed-out lines, as if these commodities had been purchased in auction by higher powers.
Heavily invested in study of the French language at the time, I was particularity drawn to the French names and attempting to pronounce them authentically. I recall writing a police procedural with a character named Jean-Remy Mezaque; and suddenly, without any real knowledge of the French culture, the plot of my burgeoning police procedural began to suffer under the weight of an existentialist detective in a gray world of ambivalent co-workers, secret government societies, and psychological investigations.
All of this came from the set of French names I’d been working with.
For another example I’d crafted a semi-medieval sci-fi western on Mars in which the protagonist was sort of a cross between Leona Lewis and Daniela Ruah. I gave her the name Jone. Joan is a form of John, perhaps one of the most common names of modern times, yet, Jone perfectly captured the ethos of her character. She was alone in her journey to find her way off the planet, alone after losing her parents, alone for having been born on a space ship in orbit, alone in siding with the underdog against the corporations regulating planetary life like medieval robber barons (the names of which I’d re-tooled from real companies whilst watching the stock market ticker on CNBC.)
Without her name, Jone didn’t really exist to me; her addiction to the painkiller Nocona and her ability to fix anything. But carrying such enigma in those four letters, she strode out of the swirling sulfides of red dust and detritus into my mind, demanding that I write her adventures worthy of that by which she was called.
In summary, I’d encourage you writers of any genre to think about every name you come across, even that of inanimate objects or corporate entities, animals and far off lands.
For what is in a name? For me, I guess just about everything.
So, with all that said, let’s dive into the names of the eight-member ensemble of Vault of Dreams.
Also, I should say this is more of a teaser than anything, because I don’t want to reveal any of the secrets of the story. Hopefully it just whets the appetite to meet these amazing characters face to face and let them take you on a journey you won’t soon forget.
I found all these names on a list of Celtic names and I read every name on the list and the names of the characters stuck out to me. I began to think about the names, and how they would appear on the scene, how they would introduce themselves, how they would represent everything they were by the strength of their name.
First is Aerlyn. Pale and lithe, a woman born near the sea with a troubled past, she has transformed herself into a woman of the shadows. To me, Aerlyn is such a feminine name, very graceful, and though she is a tough girl, her name evoked to me soft and soothing thoughts, thoughts of silence and sunsets on the sea.
Next is Ultan. A fierce and powerful warrior, Ultan “Skölhammer” had to convey a certain type of authority and masculinity, but also the fact that he was the ultimate warrior of his people, and there was no badder badass on the planet. A man in serious conflict, his name carries serious weight, no matter what situation he’s in.
Then there’s Morgance. To me her name spoke of unimaginable beauty, almost mythically so, magic and mystery and ambition. There’s secrets in her eyes, contention in her gaze, and a damn good reason for the fractured crystal of her soul. Delicate and gentle, sharp and deadly, she conveyed the dawn and the dusk and everything in between to me.
Then come along Nevan and Niles. Imperfectly inseparable, I really felt the names had a strong sense of compatibility, but also a long history. The combination of their names made me smile and think far happier thoughts than the aforementioned characters, and they are not strictly brought into the fold for levity’s sake, but really, gave me the hope of buoyancy and sanguinity like no other character names could. None even came close. The goal was to make them different yet harmonious, like a musical chord, and still so very Scottish and roguish and brave and fun.
Let’s not forget Finleigh! If Nevan and Niles are two notes of a chord, she is the third, changing the feeling of the chord with her adventurous sense of fluctuation, like a kite in the wind. I really love the name Finleigh, I don’t know why, I just like the way it looks and the way it sounds, and I like the fact that Finleigh spoke of the same ideals as Nevan and Niles to me, but in such a radically different way. When I saw the name Finleigh, I saw a sixteen year old girl sitting contentedly on the grass, a smile on her face, dreaming of some great adventure and somebody to share it with.
And Rhoswen. I really love her name, too, much like Finleigh, the way it looks and sounds. To me it spoke of a heraldic heritage and a sense of spiritual stature and authority, seasoned with a broken backstory. It was a contrast to Morgance, a shout to her whisper, redemption to her ambition, wool and leather to her lace and silk, might to her magic.
Last, but not least, there’s Uilleam, or Quill. I can’t say too much about Quill/Uilleam, other than he seemed to me to be a character incredibly rare to YA Fantasy or YA books in general. It’s an uncommon name for an uncommon soul, something that brought every other character together as the last whorl of the endless knot of Vault of Dreams.
There are other character names, too, and names of places and things, and hopefully none of them are unpronounceable, but really, I try to have names in every story and every genre that readers can say however they want to a certain point, so that they can feel like they’re making the characters their own, and VoD is no different, with multiple interpretations and so many POV’s to latch on to or to learn to hate, I really hope it’s a book for everyone and that somehow, someway, these characters and their lovely names speak to the reader in a way they’ll never forget and will be able to live on in their hearts and dreams.
His Latest Book
Title: Vault of Dreams
Author: Luke Taylor
Publication Date: July 31, 2016
Albanland. Emerald hills and ice blue lochs, bordered by Nørds raiders and the haughty monarchs of South Angle, each dynasty eager to seize lands weakened by a civil war in which a usurper has risen to seize the cloven throne.
Morgance, Faer Princess of the Night.
And by her side, the fearsome Ultan Skölhammer, sworn Guardian of the Crown.
But Rhoswen, rightful heir to the throne, princess in exile, leads a final uprising from the depths of the forest, an uprising that twists together the lives of the most unlikely companions.
A notorious thief accused of a crime she did not commit.
A baird apprentice searching for the meaning of life.
A pair of brothers who can’t seem to stay out of trouble.
And a gypsy bound to the ancient artifact known only as the Vault of Dreams.
My name is Luke and I write books and music.
Inspired by the action and adventure of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, I wrote my first books when I was 7 and passed them around to my fellow classmates. Fully illustrated and poorly stapled, they were well loved, and sequels were often in high demand. My mother read epic fantasy trilogies to me when I was young, and it stuck. Whenever I write, I just write what I see, as if watching a movie. My mind is a high-definition DVD player and I promise to never run out of material.
In high school I studied film, wrote hundreds of songs, and wrote five novels that nobody will ever read.
So then I took a break and decided I would never write again.
But then, one day, I did. The book, Evening Wolves, won two awards and changed my life.
My style is cinematic and character-driven. I write YA Fantasy and Sci-Fi standalones, Mysteries, and Epic Fantasies. Yes I will accept your friend request. Don’t be afraid to ask me a question.
I read a lot, too, mostly YA Fantasy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Mystery, and I write reviews. Check out my shelves to see if I’ve read a book that you enjoyed. I am passionate about my favorite books and favorite authors.
Thank you so much for your support and for buying and/or reading my work. I put everything I have into every book and I’m so thankful to be able to do so.
My newest book, Vault of Dreams, will be available on July 31st on Amazon in ebook and paperback.
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- a $10 Amazon Gift Card + an ecopy of Vault of Dreams
- open internationally
- ends Aug 13, 2016