From: Anonymous

So how are you supposed to pronounce all those celtic names–and why did you make them unpronouncable in the first place?

One part at a time. I wouldn’t dream of telling you how to pronounce something. I can tell you how *I* pronounce the names, but you paid for the book, you’re the one doing the reading–say them any way you like. I pronounce “Echraidhe” as Eck-RAVE, “Aoife” as EE-fee, “Uaithne” as WAITH-nee and so on. Standard Celtic pronounciation.* Second part: I didn’t set out to make them unpronouncable. I had originally intended to make the tribeswomen Mongolian (as you can probably tell from things like: yurt, fermented mares milk, herding lifestyle, clothes etc.). When I was writing Ammonite, though, I couldn’t think of any Mongolian names, so I stuck in celtic ones as place holders until I could go off and do some research, but once I’d finished the book, I found myself unable to change the names–the characters had claimed them. Oh, well.

While we’re on the subject of names, one person wanted to know whether the name Lorien (Lore, from Slow River) was lifted from Tolkien. The answer is that I don’t know. I’ve read LoTR several times, so I suppose it could have been–but it wasn’t a conscious steal. I’ve also been asked “Is there any chance Vine and Ash in the book are named after Melissa Vines and Amanda Hill?” The answer is no. Vine got her name from something that happened in her past, when she got the scars on her back…but that’s another story.

Generally speaking, there is no significance in the names I use. I just pick something from a phone book, or make it up. I had one English Professor ask me earnestly if the Kurst (a rather sinister ship in Ammonite) was a reference to Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness. I felt a bit mean disappointing him.


* I didn’t know at the time that there’s no such thing as ‘standard celtic pronunciation’. There’s p-celtic and q-celtic and, well, all kinds of ways to say stuff. I don’t know the date of this one but my guess is before 1998, otherwise I’d be talking about horrible mispronunciations of Aud. I’ve assigned an arbitrary date of 11/15/1996.