Tuesday, May 27, 2014

PUYB: Francesca Pelaccia's The Witch's Salvation - Guest Post

Characterization through Names in The Witch’s Salvation

A name for a fictional character isn’t just a name. It’s a personality, a history, and sometimes a future. Here’s the rundown and the rationale for the names of the major characters in The Witch’s Salvation.

My heroine Anasztasia is a Hungarian name meaning resurrection. The actual spelling is Anasztázia but the second “z” made the name too severe- looking. Also, the accent was irrelevant for English speakers. The name alludes to Anastasia of the House of Romanov, the last imperial dynasty to rule Russia. It was regal-sounding but more importantly could be shortened to “Annie” an everyday and endearing Anglo name. In The Witch’s Salvation, Anasztasia always tries to do the right thing. She is a kind-hearted urban princess, who is uncomfortable with her royal status and heritage. But she comes into her own, experiencing a “resurrection” on several levels. The name was perfect for her.

Matthias is the Anglicized form of the Hungarian Mátyás. Matthias is a borderline genius, wildlife advocate, and sports enthusiast, who rejects his nobility and his stuffy royal family. I named him after Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary from 1448 to 1490 and a military commander, who introduced the Renaissance to his kingdom.

Matthias’s middle name is Stefan, which in Romanian means “crown.” At the beginning of the novel, Matthias doesn’t suit the integrity and significance of his names. However, by the end of the novel, Matthias grows into their nobility.

The secondary characters in The Witch’s Salvation were given names either for their root meanings or historical significance. Anasztasia’s grandfather is Constantin, which in Romanian means steadfast. Constantin is the prince of the House of Senesti and an unmovable force of tradition. Matthias’s grandfather is Alexandru, the prince of the House of Barbat. In Romanian, his name means defender of mankind. The name “Alexandru” is as formidable-sounding and looking as the name “Constantin”. These two princes were rivals in history for the Wallachian throne, but they are mirror images of honor, pride and nobility.

Strigoaică is a female witch in Romanian folklore. I changed the name to “Strigoaic” and applied it as a generic name to a girl who has lost her real name and yearns to reclaim it along with her humanity. Hence, the witch’s salvation and the title of the novel.

Andrei is a major character in the historical section of the novel. In Romanian, the name means “warrior” and that is exactly what he is. Friar Gavril also appears in the historical section. Gavril means “man of God”. The reference to Gabriel the Archangel is intentional. Renata is a Gypsy but I gave her a Hungarian name that means reborn. Renata has been raised away from her clan. She is also almost killed when my hero and heroine show up and save her, giving her another chance at life.

A name for a fictional character is part of his or her personality and role in the novel. I find that once I have assigned the right name to a character, I can think and write from his or her point of view and to stay in character. Sometimes, it works in reverse. I can only assign a name to a character once I know his or her background information.

About the author
The Witch's Salvation is Francesca Pelaccia’s debut novel and the first book of The Witch's Trilogy. A teacher and now at long last an author, Francesca has written in other genres but enjoys creating and writing time-travel fantasies. Francesca blogs on the craft of writing especially as it relates to genre and reviews books. Currently she is working on the second book of The Witch’s Trilogy entitled The Witch’s Monastery. Visit Francesca at www.francescapelaccia.com.

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About the book
A witch who demands humanity.

The immortal families who denied her of it.

Two mortals commanded to right the wrong.

That is the fate of the urban princess Anasztasia and the renegade prince Matthias, born shockingly mortal to two immortal families. If they go back in time and restore the witch’s humanity, she will grant them immortality. She will also break a 550 year-old curse that imprisons Matthias’s family in their ancestral homeland and exiles Anasztasia’s family from it.

But to make their lives their own, the heirs must return to the most dangerous day in their families’ past, Easter Sunday, 1457. This is the day Vlad III, aka Dracula, massacred nobles.

How can Anasztasia and Matthias reverse the past when their families won’t speak of their sins? How can they refuse when the witch owns their lives?

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