In my current story there was a country called Kelvar.
It is covered in dense forests and has a population of tree-dwelling people who have produced some of the most skilled druids on the continent.
Last week a friend of my mother saw a preliminary map of said continent lying on the table, read the word “Kelvar” and exclaimed: “You’re a Tolkien fan, aren’t you!”
Uhm, yes, I thought, I like Tolkien, but I would not consider myself a hardcore fan who can count off all the character names down to the horses. “Why?” I asked.
As it turns out, kelvar is what Tolkien named the fauna in his Silmarillion:
“Kelvar was a name used by the Vala Yavanna to refer to that part of her natural realm capable of moving or escaping, as opposed to the olvar which were rooted in place. The terms kelvar and olvar, then, refer respectively to animal and plant life, and are essentially equivalent in meaning to fauna and flora.”
The Silmarillion, “Quenta Silmarillion: Of Aulë and Yavanna”
I haven’t read the Silmarillion. The simple reason being that I read the Hobbit as a child, and Lord of the Rings as a teenager (multiple times), but back then the Silmarillion was not available to me. By the time I could get my hands on it, my fascination with Middle Earth had faded and I was reading other things. Even the movies only sparked an interest in the special effects and the costumes, because when I read it I imagined things looking differently and I liked my own version better.
Still, I should have googled Kelvar. I have googled character names before using them to see what sort of connections show up. So I hurried to look up all the country and city names I had made up, to see if they’re already taken or not.
Harrad, my northern city situated near a gigantic waterfall on the river Har, derives its name from the Har-Rad, meaning the Har Falls in the local language. To my embarassment there is a movie called “The Harrad Experiment” with Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith that promotes free love. Ooops.
Breon is a country whose army stands against a neighbouring nation about to invade the peaceful continent. I found the actor Edmund Breon, and a company called “Breon Security Systems”. Cool, I like the security angle.
Thankfully, some of my made up places weren’t in use elsewhere, so I could rest easy about Port Elion and the city of Tairakem.
Just goes to show – you can’t know everything in your genre, so google is your friend when doing research for your book!
Now I just have to come up with a new name for my forest country. Suggestions, anyone?