Today I am excited to have Evelyn Ink, author of "Ill-Fated" and "Sticks, Stones, and Dragon Bones" stop by the blog to tell us a bit about her writing process!
On Writing Fantasy and the Invention of Words
One of the most fun things about writing Ill-fated was inventing words and place names. I have always loved writers who immerse you in their world with language (think of Tolkien’s use of Norse mythology and Rowling’s use of Latin). Whether they’ve invented new words, or brought back old, rare words with a twist, it definitely sets up the whole feel of a fantasy world; making it more vivid and real, or strange and surreal.
While writing Ill-fated, I tried to invent words that sound like what they are, but with a poetic touch. For a long time, I kept a journal of words I just liked the sound of, and then paired them up with other words to create names for things like types of trees, flowers, potions, or places. A few of my favorite invented words were: Idlerile for a stream androughrunnel for a river, moonbloom for phosphorescence, dayspell and nightspell, and some fun names for trees and plants like: gingerburn, sallow trees, poppyglums, androsedeads.
Finding a way to introduce words that have a more specific meaning (like drudge for a slave or servant) without slowing down the plot can be difficult, especially since some readers like everything explained and others are annoyed if the story is brought to a screeching halt each time a new word or a bit of history / backstory is explained.
As a writer you can pick a middle ground, but whether you realize it or not, you are likely favoring one side or the other. Sci-fi authors and deep fantasy writers tend to offer a lot of technical details and explanations, I seem to do quite the opposite. Perhaps my expectations are too high, but I think my readers aught to recognized the context in which the word is being used, and deduce the meaning. In most cases I feel like a slight misunderstanding is less vexing then a cumbersome definition, but this is a tricky line to walk, and I will say this, I certainly intend to add a word index in my next edition and maybe this will appease the more methodical readers.
However you choose to handle it, I feel that no matter the genre of a novel (steampunk, paranormal romance, sci-fi, etc.), taking time with your word choices, whether it be the place names, history, or the defining limits of a new realm, can give your book a literary edge. Place names are especially important because they set the feel and mood of the destination (Within Ill-fated a few of my favorites were: the Fiercehollows, the Iron Spine, and Deadroamer. There are many more, but I best leave some surprises for those who are going to read the book). First names and surnames, are also just as important (Would Lord Voldemort be as terrifying if his name were Terry?). In real life villains are named Dennis, and dreadful, dismal towns are called Point Place, but in a world where you can create an immediate mental image with just a name, why be dull?
Simultaneously, an unknown boy wakes up in the sunken hull of a decrepit cargo ship. Captured and mind-locked, the boy– dubbed “Sam” by the ship’s crew– must escape the infamous Bonesplitter and the dark schemes of one Captain Erastacus Oren.
All the while, Leila journeys out of Bainland. Crossing the wall for the first, she finds a world where magic meets machine. Aeroskiffs, daguerreotypes, and automatons merge with the earth-dolven magic of the South, leaving her to question, “What is sorcery and what is science?”
When Leila and Sam's paths cross, fate ties them together, sending them deep into the Ramble in search of the Wasteland Witches. Plagued by Sam's erratic memory and Leila's dubious rationale, they must outwit the Southland drudge hunters, and take on the dangers of the Ramble: sandwolves, bloodswamps, and the Kartivause – terrifying night creatures from the Shadowland.
Their friendship develops quickly, but as Leila’s quest unravels, Sam’s past is pieced together– and when Sam’s identity is finally revealed, Leila must face up to a bloody family history that could rip their friendship apart..."
About the Author: Evelyn Ink was formally trained to be a parachutist, but found it did not fit her longstanding desire to avoid heights and thus decided to study the much less vertically horrifying subject of English Literature.
Due to the web of conspiracy which surrounds Evelyn Ink, she rarely appears in public, but when she does it’s best to avoid her on account of her enduring history of social disrepute. There has been more than one regrettable event regarding bent cameras and shattered umbrellas.
It’s hard to say how old she is, but I would guess she was born well before you were. Her childhood home, deep in some unknown, but undoubtably pleasant countryside, was turned into a plastic bubblepuck factory forcing her family to move far into the Stonegrave Mountains. These Mountains were unfortunately chosen to be used as an experimental avalanche catastrophe (EAC) site and once again the Ink Family was forced to move. It seems ill-fortune struck again and again as they were repeatedly obligated to change locations: once due to a plague of urban badgers, a fracking sinkhole, and then again when a tuna factory’s waste disposal sight was established just outside their home.
As an adult she has continued on in this nomadic lifestyle, crossing oceans and continents when necessary. Necessary being: under the scrutiny of the press, unwarranted investigations, and an ill-timed anarchist fan base. Evelyn was quoted saying,
Mrs. Ink also prefers the term “vacation” to “exile.”
That said, Mrs. Ink continues on writing and publishing while in exile . . . sorry, on vacation, with her husband, who (name unknown) is thought by many to be both an anarchist and mad philosopher.
You may choose to follow Evelyn Ink on her blog, although due to her absolute terror of electronics and a crippling phobia of the social media (technical term: Socmephobia), her blog posts tend to be infrequent and erratic. Also, due to several post exile investigations and her current relocation program, she is generally prevented from giving specific information regarding her whereabouts (Though, by the hollowly echo and vintage-like hum of a rotary phone, I would suspect from our last conversation, she is somewhere deep underground).
This report was conducted by:
Mr. Edwin Riddle
Of Public Relations, Personal Investigates, and Subterfuge.