I’m often asked how I came up with names of people, locations, and objects that are present in Lord of Columbia and Neo Skyehawk. You have Sword of Stoicheion, Ddraigoch, character names, and more. Some of which I touched on in previous posts and others will be examined in future articles.
Coming up with unforgettable names was something I often asked myself as a kid when I played Pokemon games, wondering how the creators came up with names like Gyarados, Pikachu, and the other original 151 creatures which now number over 700 if I’m not mistaken.
When I researched how the creators of Pokemon came up with names, it was to play to the tastes of American and other English-speaking audiences worldwide, giving them “clever and descriptive” names.
Knowing this, I wanted to do the same with my own names.
For instance, Cain Riscattare’s name in Northern Knights displays irony. You have Cain, who in the Book of Genesis in the Christian Bible, committed the first murder in human history while Riscattare is Italian for redeem.
For those who’ve read Northern Knights, Cain’s personality fits his name. He’s an immature, arrogant hothead who goes out of his way to make life hell for those he doesn’t like or for anyone who annoys him. However, he’s fiercely loyal to his friends and family, doesn’t tolerate discrimination, sexism, or racism, and is the type of person who will invite an outcast into his circle of friends.
As stated in previous articles, Rand Jefferson, Cain’s mentor, is named after Rand Paul and Thomas Jefferson.
Savannah Rivers is based on a girl I met whose first name is after a city and last name after a river.
The most unique might be Ddraigoch, which is basically a combination of the Welsh translation of The Red Dragon, ‘Y ddraig goch.’
The most notable and common term is Stoicheion, which is the subject of this article.
The Classical Elements
For those who grew up watching Avatar, the Last Airbender, you know how important element-bending is to the series. And those of you who don’t know, the four elements mentioned are water, earth, fire, and air (wind in Lord of Columbia).
In The Last Airbender, only the Avatar has the ability to master all four elements while in Lord of Columbia, anyone born with ability can master the five elements, as I added Spirit to this mantra as well. Each character born with Stoicheion ability (about 1 in 25, while 1 in 10 are born with any type of ability) can master the elements, which I refer to as the Stoicheion elements, separate from those with ability in the Philosophic elements of metal, blood, and wood.
Those born with such ability begin by controlling one element before learning others, just as Aang had done in the Last Airbender, where his original element was air before learning water, earth, and fire. Only those whose original element is Spirit will likely control only one element, due to Spirit’s complexity, which I’ll dive into in a later article as many have asked me why this is the case.
Anyway, back to the talk of the Classical elements.
Basically, I wanted to pull a Pokemon and give… I don’t know about clever, but I definitely wanted descriptive and unforgettable names, especially for those who possess the ability to give the reader something to identify with.
That’s the Name!
Not only was it important to give a descriptive name that readers could identify with; I wanted a name that was memorable, one that would walk into a reader’s mind anytime they heard the word ‘element.’
Wikipedia of all places led me straight to the name.
While conducting initial research for Northern Knights, then under a completely different working title, I wanted accuracy when it came to element control and what to refer to the elements as a group.
Sword of the Elements just didn’t sound right, lacked creativity, description, and to be honest, was just forgettable.
Per Wikipedia, I read ‘the ancient Greek word for element, stoicheion…’
It was right there, sitting in a personal training office and awaiting my next client I gasped and said to myself, “That’s it, that’s the name!”
I went into my first draft and replaced ‘Sword of the Elements’ with ‘Sword of Stoicheion,’ and the rest is history.
The most common, and perhaps most mysterious unique name found in Lord of Columbia derives its name from Ancient Greece, where the classical elements also played a massive role.
Gaia, A World Quite Like Our Own
It was due to the Greek nature of the term ‘stoicheion’ did I decide that in Gaia, in which the entire world’s landmass is similar to our own landmass on present-day Earth, that the Greek-like region must play a massive role in both Lord of Columbia and Neo Skyehawk.
A bit of a foreshadow will come in Neo Skyehawk upon the release of Fighting the High Seas, and in Lord of Columbia’s Trilogy II, not only will the story take place in Columbia, but our characters will set sail across Gaia later in the trilogy, unearthing a mystery that is thousands of years old, a mystery that originates in the Greek-like region of Terrain, close, very close, to the Heart of the World’s Island, which is eerily identical to our own world island.
For that, I’ll leave you with this teaser quote:
“Who controls Eastern Europe controls the Heartland; who rules the Heartland rules the World-Island; who rules the World-Island controls the world,” – Halford John Mackinder, 1904.