Guest Post: World-building Names by Katharina Gerlach

Today, bilingual author Katharina Gerlach is touring for the release of her latest novel, Swordplay! I love Katharina’s detailed and unique worlds, so I asked her to tell me a little about how she planned her newest series, and she wrote this post about how she comes up with her names. Read on to find out more about the book, and make sure to go to the end for a giveaway!


Worldbuilding Names

Have you ever realized how important names in a novel’s world are? Take Harry Potter’s world as an example. The main character’s name is ordinary but not too blunt. It signifies how ordinary Harry sees himself. Brilliant Hermione, on the other hand, got a name to fit a character that’s unusually intelligent. What does that tell us about Ron? Yup, boring… but with hidden context. After all, Ron is really the shortened version of Ronald, and according to a baby name site, it means: Mighty counselor/ruler in Scottish. Another role fitting name, don’t you think?

In my world building, I didn’t worry too much about the meaning of the names since I knew I’d only partially be using names we would use today. My main concern was to make them sound French, since most of my magical terminology is based on French. Not all names adhered to the rule. Differences usually occurred when my Muse insisted on a name. (I can’t go against my Muse or she might decide to stop cooperating and where would I be then?)

Going in, I knew my main character’s name would be Moira, and I knew it meant fate. Interestingly, the baby site insists it also means ‘bitter’ and ‘merit’ – wow. My Muse totally surprised me there because it fit Moira like a glove. So I decided to check a couple of the other names she came up with, and do you know something, they have a meaning or an idea behind it too. I set aside the names I had chosen carefully, like Sabio (from the French savant = knowledgeable), Lavant (from the French laver = wash, rinse), Druidus (from the celtic word druid, magic user) and Excelsior (from the French excellent = outstanding). The others came to me through my Muse and I didn’t know their meaning until I looked them up, like Franka (from the French franko = free), Tord (from the Norse Tordis = goddess), and Bastide (from the French word for stronghold).

Interesting enough, my Muse insisted on surnames but never came up with one for Franka. Franka is Moira’s one and only friend and it bugged me no end that she didn’t have e surname. But whatever name I tried to stick to her, my Muse refused. Finally I realized she doesn’t need one at this point. If I think about my best friends, I’m not using their surnames either. With one I’d be hard pressed to remember anyway because she just got married. No, for BBF, the only name that really matters is the first name.

I hope I have provided an interesting insight into how a worldbuilding geek’s mind works (well, how MY mind works). If you’re interested in more of what I have to say, check out my homepage for the Blog Tour schedule. If you want to read a couple of mini-stories with the characters of the Gendarmerie Magique series, please join my mailing list.

Swordplay 259x400About the Book

CSI with magic but without the gore

Despite her obvious lack of magical talent, nineteen year old Moira Bellamie apprentices with the Gendarmerie Magique, the magic police. She puts all her effort into solving a burglary at the National Museum where antique weapons have been stolen, to keep the hard won job. Falling for her partner Druidus wasn’t part of the plan. When more and more people are murdered with one of the stolen weapons, Moira must tame uncontrollable magic, or the people she cares for will die, her partner first and foremost.

For lovers of Fantasy and Mystery from 14 years up

eBook on Amazon: German, English
and Smashwords: GermanEnglish

other retailers will follow

Paperback in  German or English on Createspace (Beware: postage), Amazon (no postage) will follow soon and can be found through the eBook pages.

catAbout Katharina

I’ve been telling and writing stories all my life, but only two year ago, with the success of eBook publishing, I became an Indie author. I never looked back. Sure, my manuscripts have found praise with traditional publishers, but no one had the courage to publish something they couldn’t neatly stuff into a labeled box.

Well, just like my books, I don’t fit one box. I’m the daughter of a forester and a studied forester myself. I’m sister to three brothers, and a mother to three daughters. I’m a tomboy at heart and simultaneously tidy and chaotic – I can’t be any different with my Muse (the creative part of me) dragging me in one direction and my Editor (the neat, logical side) pulling in another.

There are three things in this world I love more than anything: my family, stories (mine and those of others) and nature. The best thing that can happen to me is when someone I don’t know leaves a review for one of my books telling me how much (s)he liked it.

Giveaway for “Swordplay – A Gendarmerie Magique novel”


I'm an author, a blogger, and a nerd. I read and write fantasy.