Friday, April 4, 2014

What's In a Name? Part 2: The Major Female Protagonists

[artist unknown]
Wow! It's been a busy week here writing! Lord willing, by tonight or tomorrow, I should be halfway through the first draft (which is always the tough part for me) of the current novel I'm working on. I must keep the storyline under wraps for now... but hints will be coming soon, I believe! Please continue to keep my writing in your prayers, dear reader! I am truly grateful for you lifting me up before our Father.

As promised, here is part two of this post series on the meanings of the names in The House of Mercy. The female characters seemed more difficult to name for a very simple reason: there were fewer female than male names in post-Roman Britain. Add to that this problem, too: Many female names are variations of one single root name, which normally isn't a problem in "real life." (For example, my own name, Alicia, is a variation of "Alice.") But when I'm trying to ensure that you, the reader, keeps all your characters straight in the story, I have to name the characters in a way that distinguishes them one from another fairly distinctly!

So, let's dig into the what, how, and why of naming the female protagonists in The House of Mercy.



Of course, I have to start with Bethan. You know, the novel originally revolved completely around her story; that was in the first draft, which was written in a journal-style many moons ago. ;-) Here is the shocking tidbit: I did not name her Bethan until the almost-final draft. And yet, now, I can't imagine her with another name and have to think a bit before remembering what her other names (there were several) were. Bethan is a mainly-Welsh form of the Hebrew name Elizabeth, meaning, "God has promised.'' (It's pronounced BEH-than.) In The House of Mercy, Bethan comes to understand her God's integrity and His trustworthiness to care for her, and to rely on Him alone.


Another Welsh name, Tarian means, "shield." I chose her name because of the connotation its meaning had for me, rather than the denotation. Her character reminds me of Tolkien's Shield-Maiden of Rohan - spirited, somewhat willful, sensitive, and frightened that she will be "locked in a cage" (as Eowyn says) by her own choices and those of others in control of her. Yet, the Lord Christ displays that He is her shield and her exceedingly great reward (see Genesis 15:1). By the way, Tarian walked into storyline herself; I didn't expect her, but I did find her intriguing! (There is more to her story, as well, I think...)


Pronounced EN-ya (a relief for those of you who have been pronouncing it to rhyme with "pain!"), the name Aine finds its root in the Irish goddess of prosperity, summer, and sovereignty. The meaning given differs depending on the source, from "white," to "lucky," to "splendor," and "desire." In The House of Mercy, Aine longs (or "desires") to be filled with happiness, romantic love, and security, as well as to rule her own destiny (much like a goddess). Yet, she finds that all her self-directing ways of fulfilling these desires end in heartache. Aine lays herself down at the foot of the mercy seat and is filled with Christ, made white by His blood, and becomes blessed indeed.

If you missed the first part of this series on the meanings of names in The House of Mercy, you can find that here. Next, we'll be tackling THE VILLAINS! :-) I love the villains ...


A question for you, dear reader: Did you have a favorite character is The House of Mercy? If so, what about that character made him/her your favorite?

1 comment:

  1. My favorite characters: Calum--for his inner struggle and for the mercy, kindness and love that he shows to Aine, and probably Bethan--for her strength of character through the Lord--I also like Fiona a great deal. :-)


Thanks for commenting ... Feedback is always helpful! {All comments are moderated and may take a short while to display.}