Posted by: Phil Anderson | August 18, 2013

Forbidden Secrets Revealed

Several weeks ago I posted a short story titled “Forbidden.” If you haven’t read it yet, you should do so now, since this week’s post has lots of spoilers. You can find it here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three

Last week I wrote about the Bible as a literary influence, and I suggested that it might help identify my inspiration for “Forbidden.” No one offered any guesses, so now I get to reveal “Forbidden” secrets.

First let me summarize the story: A husband and wife are forbidden access to a certain location. A neighbor suggests they ignore the restriction. They give in to temptation and are exiled as a consequence of their disobedience. They have two sons, one has unwavering loyalty to authority and the other is suspicious and jealous of his brother’s faith, which leads to violence.

When the story is boiled down like that, does it sound familiar? “Forbidden” is basically the story of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel. And I told it without mentioning a garden, or a serpent, or a forbidden tree… Or did I?

I enjoy making up names for people and places, and most of the time they mean things. As I develop the Kingdom of Theran, I try to create regional diversity; if everyone in a kingdom is the same, it’s not a very interesting kingdom. I decided to give the Fishing District on the southern coast of Theran a Mediterranean or Italian feel. It’s not specifically based on Italy, but I wanted the names to sound Italian-y. So I used the translation app on my iPod.

Adam and Eve, in my story, are portrayed by Prumo and Castella. Prumo comes from the Italian phrase primo uomo, which means “first man.” Castella is my variation on costola, which means “rib.” Their son Pregio is Italian for “virtue,” and Maelo comes from the word for “evil.”

Overlord Dolpus was created long before I wrote this story, so his name isn’t specific to his role here. As leader of the fishing district his name is a combination of dolphin and porpoise. His brother Bentay’s name was harder to come by. I looked up the Italian word for serpent and got serpente, which is not very subtle. Then I thought that as a former nobleman he could use the title “Sir” so I named him Pentay. But, because I already had too many P-names in Prumo and Pregio, I changed it to a B.

The forbidden island of Sapota comes from the Italian word saputa, which refers to knowledge of a secret. Prumo’s boat, Jardino, sounds like giardino, which means “garden.” The overlord’s ship, Siello, comes from cielo, which is Italian for “sky.”

The navy captain’s name is Melek. I wanted him to sound more foreign than everyone else, but still Mediterranean, so instead of Italian I used Turkish, where melek is the word for “angel.” His ship is still Italian: Spadafoco comes from the phrase spada di fuoco which means “sword of fire.”

So those are the secrets behind “Forbidden.” If there’s anything else in the story you’re wondering about, leave a comment below. Also, let me know if you think this behind-the-scenes information spoils the mystique or enhances your enjoyment.

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Responses

  1. […] allegories. We read my short story, “Forbidden”, and then talked about some of the symbolism I used in writing it. I got to discuss my ideas and where they come from, some of the writing […]


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