Five Secrets of Toxic Revealed: What’s in a Name?

Are you wondering when Rancid, the sequel to Toxic, is going to be released? (If you aren’t, you should be!) I am in the middle of the final edits and waiting for the cover to be designed. I know it’s taken a long time, and I apologize for that. In the future, I am focusing on getting books out much quicker.

But for now, while you wait, I thought I’d share a few of the secrets of Toxic with you.  When I wrote it, I didn’t just pick names out of a hat. Names of people and places were carefully selected to give you clues.

While I can create plots in my mind as easily as some dribble a basketball, I have an agonizing time making up names and languages. Everything I put together looked like some baby babbling and didn’t have the feel to it that I wanted. I ended up using a mixture of Hebrew and Gaelic languages.

#1 – Eltiria

The hardest thing I had to do was to give a fantasy world a name. Thankfully, I seem to have deleted all of my first attempts, or I’d have to share with you. I remember that something like Patria was one.

I settled on Eltira for a couple of reasons. As you probably know, El comes from the Hebrew, and it means God. Tiria was a challenge. I forget, but I think I was skimming Welsh words and came across this spelling for earth. I may have just rearranged from the Spanish terra. Either way, I chose this name because it means God’s earth.

#2 – Foehn

When my Mom who found this wonderful name, I couldn’t be more pleased. In Toxic, Foehn begins his journey down the mountain and seeks out adventure. As you know, he briefly visits each of the three main characters in the beginning. As he keeps looking for what he’s searching for, he is entrapped by the antagonist.

Foehn or föhn is a German word for a type of wind that occurs on the downwind side of a mountain range. It is very similar to our Chinook winds. Since this wind comes off the mountains, I couldn’t have found a more perfect name.

#3 – Belial

This name comes from the Hebrew language. As far as I saw in my research, belial means “worthless.” One source said that is was used to refer to the good-for-nothing men – for example, men who would induce worship of other gods, men who oppose God’s anointed, and men who stir up contention. Sound like anyone you read about?

For me, it was most interesting to find this name in 2 Corinthians 6:15.  Paul asks, “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” Wow! (Note: The Greek spells it Beliar.)

I couldn’t have found a better name for my antagonist!

#4 – Archippi

I don’t use the term pegasus in my book because Pegasus is the name of the actual horse in the Greek legend. It’s not a term for a flying horse like it’s used today. Besides, I wanted the idea of horses with wings, but I didn’t want to connect to a Greek legend.

Taking the idea of arch as being chief (think of archenemy), I combined it with the Greek word for horse, which is hippos. In case you didn’t know, the h of Greek is silent. Together it makes a chief horse, and that is a perfect name for flying horses that can talk!

 #5 – Kai

I first thought of Kai because I love the Welsh language. Something about the name caught my eye and stuck with me. However, as I researched the name, I knew I had to use it! Here are some of the meanings that I found in different languages.

  • In Burmese, Kai means “strong” or “unbreakable.”
  • In Chinese, Kai can have several meanings, including “triumphant.”
  • In Japanese, Kai has a number of meanings, including restoration, recovery, ocean, or shell.
  • In North Germanic languages, Kai means keeper of the keys. In Germanic languages, it means safe harbor.
  • In Welsh, Kai is a popular name normally spelt Cai, from the Arthurian legend of Sir Kay.

But it wasn’t until I was teaching at a writing seminar that I had a lady who had spent many years in Hawaii. She shared with me that Kai in Hawaii means ocean or ocean water. God works in very interesting ways!

 There are many more meanings behind the names in Toxic. Until next time, can you guess where Alyn comes from and how it connects to my all-time favorite books?

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