Wondering how to pronounce one of the Gaelic character or place names in Wyldwood? Interested in knowing if a character or place was inspired by a real-world location or person? Wonder no more! Here is a quick rundown of some of the big ones (this is just Part One; Part Two will be a separate post.)
Saorsa Stuart: Saorsa's name is pronounced "Sore-shuh" and the name means "freedom". Her mother, Maria Stuart, who was imprisoned when she gave birth, named her daughter for what she hoped her child and she would one day have: freedom. Saorsa's middle names are drawn from common female names used around that time period in the Stuart family.
Maria Stuart: Sadly, Bonnie Prince Charlie had no older sister in real life. The name Maria was used a lot in the Stuart family (being a version of "Mary", a VERY common name for girls in Christian-dominated Europe.) Maria's middle names, which she reveals in Circle of Three, are also pulled from the Stuart Family Tree.
Duncan MacLeod: I wanted Duncan and Vika to be from Skye (for reasons that will be revealed later), but didn't want them to be of the MacDonald Clan, so therefore I picked the MacLeod Clan, who also had ties to the Faerie Realm (please see the upcoming post on the Faerie Flag). Duncan gets his first name from the character Duncan Hunter in the TV series Shetland, which is a marvelous series if you love detective stories that just happen to take place in the Shetland Islands. I also loved the tie to Shakespeare's Macbeth, and that the name means "brown warrior".
Alexander Scott: I went family tree diving for this one. I have two Alexander Scotts in my tree, and his middle names come from other family members as well. I also loved that Alexander means "defender" which, let's face it, is how he sees himself when it comes to Saorsa. It also had a nice tie in to Alexander the Great, Aristotle's greatest pupil, which worked well with another character who is an Aristotle fan in Circle of Three.
Father Andrew: Anybody know actor Graham McTavish? I am a HUGE fan of his. C'mon, you know him: he's been in everything you love (and you love it why? BECAUSE GRAHAM MCTAVISH IS IN IT.) He's been the The Hobbit, and The Witcher, and Outlander as Dougal MacKenzie, for crying out loud. He's even been in Kung Fu Panda. My friends got me a Cameo video message from him for my birthday a few years ago which was FANTASTIC, and a co-worker of mine ran into him in a pub in London and says he is the NICEST PERSON EVER. Isn't it great when your favorite actors turn out to be nice??? Well, long story short, when I was writing Wyldwood - when I write, the characters just show up and I can see them, and where they came from I have no idea - but when the priest I needed ran out of the church in my head in Wyldwood, he WAS Graham McTavish. And I went, "Yay! What do you want to be called?" And he said, "Father Andrew" in that booming Graham McTavish voice of his. So, the part of my brain that generates love for Graham McTavish just....named him. He's the only one like that. Yay Graham!
Vika MacLeod: When I told a dear friend of mine of many, many years that I wanted to try writing a novel, she volunteered to edit it for me. Not only is she the best-read individual I know of on the planet, but she is killer at editing as well. I decided to model Vika on her as a thank-you, and thought Vika would be a one-time character. But it turns out I LOVE writing Vika, and many of my early test readers of the novel loved her too (I've even been asked to consider writing a Vika spin-off series), so she had grown into a major character. I wanted a Gaelic name that sounded strong and was very unique, and I love that the name Vika means "from the creek" in Scotland, as Vika's first lesson and last test for Saorsa involves crossing a body of water. In Latin the name means "victory" or "conqueror", which fit as well. I love the way "Vika MacLeod" rolls off the tongue! Hidden in Vika's dialogue are many inside jokes to my editor friend from me (one of these is the reason why the monkey Verrückt makes an appearance- by the way, "Verrückt" means "crazy" or "insane" in German, which my friend speaks). Vika also uses expressions my friend uses and her sarcastic side is definitely a hallmark of my editor friend.
More on the way!