Showing posts from January, 2021

Boghildur and Biggi: Icelandic names

Which brings us to names.  The Icelanders have a unique approach to naming people.  It ranges from the simple Jón Jónsson, a boy’s name, to the more complicated Boghildur Dögg Skarphédinsdóttir, a snappy girl’s name.   The system works as follows.             Your ‘last name’ is your father’s name, plus ‘-son’ if you are a boy, and ‘-dóttir’ if you are a girl.  There is no surname in a conventional European or American sense.    So I would be Michael Andrewsson, since my father’s name was Andrew.  My sister would be Mary Andrewsdóttir.  My grandfathers’ names were Claude and Conrad, so my parents would be Andrew Claudesson and Elizabeth Conradsdóttir.    This seems noble is some ways: our parents are honoured and my sister and mother have names which respect their sex – there is something fundamentally illogical about the English name Jane Johnson, for example.  But our tight little family of four all end up with different last names, which can be a little weird when we try to check in

My Detective: Magnus or Magnús

I described the beginnings of a plot for my first Icelandic crime novel in an earlier post: The Problem .  What if Tolkien had been inspired by an Icelandic saga?  He probably had been inspired by an Icelandic saga.  So what if he had been inspired by a lost Icelandic saga that someone had found?  And that someone had been murdered.  And my detective had to sort it out. Now I needed a detective. Inventing a detective Creating your detective is probably the most important step for any writer when beginning a crime series.  You want the man or woman to be interesting to you as much as the reader.  You want him (I decided on a man, perhaps because I am a man) to be sympathetic, strong, independent, intelligent.    But to create drama he needs flaws: traits that will get him into trouble.  He needs personal problems.  He needs to be in conflict with family friends or colleagues.   Given these requirements, you can see how writers have created detectives who are middle-aged, divorced, with