The H is silent…

So, in my last post I alluded to the fact that I worked on some cover ideas, and that ended up adjusting things in my books.  So I thought I would spill the beans.  Especially since I now have the titles (or at least the titles I want for the books) worked out.

This series revolves around the wars and interactions of three races which I initially named: Rhunes, Dergs, and Freys.  When I told my wife the titles she looked puzzled.

“Derg? Is that D-h-e-r-g?”

“No,” I said, “it’s D-e-r-g.”

“Hmmm…” she said,” it doesn’t sound right.  Too short.  Can it be Dherg?”

“If you feel strongly about it.”

So I started laying out the books and Robin was right I really liked the symmetry between Rhune and Dherg.  For some reason I put the titles in all caps and showed her covers for RHUNE, DHERG, and FREY. Robin immediately noticed that Frey stuck out as it had only 4 letters verses the 5 of the other 2.  So while she looked over my shoulder I changed it to  FRHEY.

“I like it,” she declared, “but…”

“But what?”

“Well, can it be FHREY” then it would be symmetrical with the other ones.

Visually we both loved the way the three looked one after another.  “Too bad,”  Robin declared finally, “They look good, but no one will no how to pronounce them,  and most people will misspell them.”

Considering I’m constantly seeing my debut series referred to as Riyra or Ryria, as well as the actual Riyria, I knew that FHREY would be a problem.

My daughter, who is dyslexic, cam home from work just as we were deciding the naming fate of the last book.  I asked her to read the titles.  She rolled her eyes and gave an exasperated sigh. “You know that I have  no clues when it comes to phonics.”

“Don’t worry about that, just give it a shot.”

She struggled and came out with sounds that were nowhere near the actual renunciation. Well except for the first one, which I’m sure she has heard my wife and I talking about from time to time.

“How would you say it if I told you the ‘H’ was silent?” her mother asked.

“Oh, that’s easy…roon, durg, fray,” she said without pause.

“That’s good enough for me,” Robin said.

So for now, I’m running with it – and have gone through my 70,000+ words and performed a global search and replace. Later I pointed out to Robin that this causes a problem.

“How so,” she asked.

“Well one of the places that exists across both series is Dahlgren.”

“No,” she says, “It’s not a problem.  The ‘H’ is silent in it as well.  It’s just one of the cases of a word that morphed over time and between cultures.  At the time of  The First Empire that place is called Dhalgren. In the time of the second empire the humans have changed it into Dahlgren.  And in another two thousand years it may become Dalgren.”

“Good point,” I concurred, and went off to adjust my map.

And so, there you have it.  A little exercise in creating the covers of the books has ended up becoming a part of the language of this world and a convention for naming things.

No one but those reading this post will probably ever understand the evolution of this, but from here on out, every time I’m on a podcast or talking to an audio producer who is struggling and fumbling, a smile with creep to my face and I’ll save them from their flailing with a simple, “The ‘H’ is silent.”

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