Historical Research and Character Names by Scarlett Valentine
First let me say, thanks for letting me visit today. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. And thanks for asking me to talk about two of the things I really enjoy about the writing process — naming characters and historical research.
I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for names. The more unusual they are, the more I like them. One of the most important parts of plotting stories, at least for me, is having just the right character names. Historicals demand dated names and the best place to find them is to look at historical documents and texts. Sometimes, names also come from a person’s description. One such story is about an Irish boy called Luan who entered into monastic life. When he went to have his tonsure shaved, the cleric who did the barbering said, “Fair (fionn) is the hair (barra, meaning crop) of Luan.” Another cleric replied, “Let this be his name.” Over the centuries, Fionn Barra became Finbarr.
It’s stuff like this I find fascinating. And it’s all part of the historical research that goes into plotting a story. You wouldn’t want to name a 12 century hero Dweezil since the name didn’t come into existence until the 20th century. However, it sounds like a wholly appropriate name for a 25th century hero, doesn’t it?
Let’s do a little research on the name Bedwyr from Awakening—
The name Bedwyr can be found in old Welsh texts, some of the oldest references dating back to the 5thth century. But it was around the 9th century when the name Bedwyr Bedrydant, or Bedwyr of the Perfect Sinews for his lanky disposition, showed up in legendary tales. Bedwyr, along with the likes of Cei (Kay), Ywain (Ewain/Owain), and Erec, was a legendary Knight of the Round Table—Bedwyr being the Welsh version of Bedevire!
Sir Bedevire was not only a hero in his own right, but he was the only Round Table Knight who knew where King Arthur was buried. The term grave-knower has become synonymous with the name Bedwyr—literally, knower of Arthur’s grave.
When I first saw the name and read the meaning behind it, I instantly thought, “This is my hero.” He’s his king’s right hand man, a mighty warrior, and the ultimate tortured hero. He’s a grave-knower, not of Arthur’s grave, but because he’s the most feared man in all Wales due to his prowess on the battlefield—kill or be killed, and he’s not ready to die.
Further research revealed things like dynastic marriages, families at war and a string of bastard children to King Owain’s credit—twenty-on documented children by two wives and a handful of concubines. Historians assume there are probably many more children by this king, so it wasn’t unreasonable that my Bedwyr could have been one of them.
Another fascinating fact I learned why researching—Owain gave his sister, Susanna, to Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys in 1130 as part of a dynastic marriage. When they went to war again in 1149, it was as brothers-in-law as much as political opponents. But for nineteen years, Susanna had helped keep the peace between the two men.
Researching history can dig up some very interesting facts, indeed. So next time you’re looking for plot elements for your story, don your archaeologists cap and grab a trowel because your next plot element could be just under the surface.
Thanks for stopping by to meet me and learn a little bit about Awakening and Bedwyr. I’d love to hear some of your stories—what’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across and what does it mean?
“What’s a little bondage between friends?”
Available now – Awakening, book one of The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series
Ysbail of Ellesmere is a pawn in her guardian’s war. For decades there has been unrest between the marcher lords and Owain Gwynedd ap Gruffydd, King of Gwynedd. The most recent war had been the bloodiest she could remember in her eighteen years. Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys, and his allies lost untold numbers of men at the hands of Owain’s soldiers. When a settlement of truce is presented to Madog, it’s at Ysbail’s expense. She is to marry Bedwyr ap Owain, one of King Owain’s bastard sons, and his most notorious henchman. If all the rumors and stories she’s heard are true, she knows her marriage will be rife with horror and fear.
Since proving himself worthy with his sword, Bedwyr fights at his king’s side. He’s shed oceans of blood and sent untold numbers of men to their graves. He’s become what his name foretold—the grave-knower. He’s afraid of nothing, least of all death. All men fear him, including those who fight at his side, and sometimes even his own king. Terror of him lives within women’s hearts; only the bravest of whores accept him into their beds. And children weave their own tales of the monster they hear him to be, embellishing the details to their own gruesome degrees.
When King Owain informs Bedwyr that he’s to marry Ysbail of Ellesmere as part of a peace settlement with Madog, Bedwyr is furious. A man such as Bedwyr can only survive on the battlefield. For without love, hatred will send a man like him to the edge of insanity. Then push him over. But when Bedwyr sees Ysbail for the first time, blood-thirst turns to blood-lust, and he vows to show her that she should have no fear of him.
Scarlett Valentine is the alter ego of award-winning romance author, Kemberlee Shortland. Together they write Erotomance — Erotic Romance.
Originally from Northern California, Scarlett has spent the last fourteen years living in Ireland. She’s traveled extensively through Ireland and Wales. When she’s not writing, she can often be found castle hunting.
Scarlett’s stories cross subgenres to explore hetero, gay and bisexual relationships in a series of stories that include time periods from historicals and contemporaries, futuristics and science fiction, paranormal and suspense, and more.
Awakening is the first book in The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series and is available 2 November 2011 though Tirgearr Publishing.
COMMENT TO WIN! Scarlett is giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, plus she will occasionally give “surprise” gifts to other commenters on the tour. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The other tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2011/10/virtual-book-tour-awakenings-by.html