Monday, December 7, 2015

Guest Post with author Jessica Dall

Etymology by Jessica Dall

I’ve always been interested in etymology. Learning where (and when) words originated has appealed to both the writer and the history buff in me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have more than one instance while writing my newest novel, Raining Embers, where I wished I was writing something contemporary rather than set in a fantasy world based loosely on the High Renaissance—it would have saved quite a bit of time trying to find period-appropriate words to use.

While I probably spent more time than was healthy going through etymological dictionaries to check words while working on Raining Embers, a few words/phrases I would have liked to have been able to use still come to mind:

1. “Cavalier.” Circa 1580, cavalier wasn’t too far outside the time period, but as it didn’t come to mean something more pejorative—as I meant to use it—until the seventeenth century, it seemed like a little too much of a cheat to work properly in the narrative.

2. “Train wreck.” The urge to use train wreck was entirely metaphorical (as there, of course, weren’t any trains running around the setting) but since trains didn’t exist, a character using the phrase even metaphorically wouldn’t have made much sense. As other “period” replacements (wagon wreck? Horse wreck?) all seemed a little too forced, the phrase shrunk to just “wreck.”

3. “Asylum.” While the word was in use much earlier (in the sense of seeking sanctuary somewhere) the idea of an asylum being a "benevolent institution to shelter some class of persons" (such as an insane asylum) wasn’t in use until the Enlightenment. Therefore, after some research, I went with the older term “fool’s tower” when mentioning someone who had lost their mind being sent away.

Of course, as with any “historical” story not actually entirely in period speech, some liberties had to be taken now and again (all right, “expensive” is placed in the 1620s, not the 1520s…) but by staying away from jarringly anachronistic words, the time period feels a little more concrete—even if the story isn’t written in Early Modern English—and that makes it worth all the extra headache.

About the author:

Jessica Dall finished her first novel at the age of fifteen and has been hooked on writing ever since. In the past few years, she has published two novels,

The Copper Witch and The Porcelain Child, along with a number of short stories that have appeared in both magazines and anthologies.

In college, Jessica interned at a publishing house, where her “writing hobby” slowly turned into a variety of writing careers. She currently works as both as an editor and creative writing teacher in Washington, DC.

When not busy editing, writing, or teaching, Jessica enjoys crafting and piano, and spending time with her friends and family. She can most often be found at her home in Maryland with a notebook and her much-loved, sometimes-neglected husband.

About Raining Embers:

Palmer Tash always follows the path of least resistance. He has an unusual disability involving his hearing. But in theocratic Latysia, being different isn’t a good thing, so he conceals his problem.

Brier Chastain’s malady is even more debilitating, and she often must take to her bed for long periods. Her days are spent in meaningless pursuits as she awaits an arranged marriage.

When Palmer and Brier are kidnapped on the same night, they meet and discover that their so-called disabilities are actually budding powers. They are the incarnations of Order and Chaos. With their country on the brink of war, the two must step into their predestined roles and learn to take control of their own destinies.

No comments:

Post a Comment