Many cultures believe words have power. The bards sang stories. They made sure things were remembered and took these stories from one place to another. They could also lampoon someone and make them suffer.
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me …
Not true if everyone is laughing at you because of an easy to remember catchy rhyme that is passing through the village like wild fire!
When I set out to write King Rolen’s Kin I wanted a traditional fantasy story, but some of the words we use have been used so many times they lose their power. So I avoided prince or princess and used kingson and kingsdaughter. Both of these are based on the way people were described (and what is a name but a description?) in the Norse sagas. Unlike our society, in the Norse sagas a man might also be described by his mother’s ancestors as well, and I use this in KRK.
The other word I wanted to avoid was magic. It has been used so much it has lost its original awe inspiring power. It used to be out there, all around us, tied to the earth and to specific places where someone with the right ability could tap into it. So I came up with affinity. In KRK power seeps up from the earth’s heart. It affects animals and people. Some people are born with the ability to manipulate this power, they have an ‘affinity’ for it. So the term becomes, they have affinity. This way magic becomes something ‘other’ and powerful again.
What I look for in fantasy and science fiction is that the thrill of wonder. It can be associated with the future and the possibilities of where we will go as human beings, or it can be associated with the past and the powerful things our ancestors held to be important. There was a time when your word was your bond. You could not break an oath, or you would be known as an oath-breaker and no one would trust you.