the bitterbynde trilogy FAQ

Question: “Huon” is a tree found in Tasmania, while Huntingtowers sounds like the crater lakes at Mount Gambier and “Tamhania” sounds like “Tasmania”. Is there anything else in your books that reflects real life?

Reply: ‘Yes, there are many obscure references throughout “The Bitterbynde”. “Huon” is also a name from myth and legend. The landscape of Arcdur borrows from the granite hills region in central Victoria (Australia) near Kyneton, and the Windships are inspired by the great dirigibles of the early 20th century.’

Question: How do you pronounce names such as Imhrien, Rohain, Tahquil, and all the other Faêran names in The Bitterbynde?

Imhrien = IMM-ree-en
Rohain = Ro-HAIN
Tahquil = TAH-quil Sianadh = SHAN-ad (This is how CDT pronounces it, but the Irish Pronunciation site tells us that dh (broad) = gh as the g in Spanish “abogado” or Greek “avgolemono”; usually silent except at beginning of words; see a textbook on this!)
Muirne = MUR-nee Diarmid = DER-mot
Nevertheless, many of the names used in The Bitterbynde are not derived from Irish Gaelic.

Question: At the end of The Ill-made Mute, Thorn says to Imrhien,’….caileagh faoileag.’ What does this mean?

Reply: Caileagh’ is a variation on cailin, which is ‘girl’ in Irish, and faoileag is very similar to the modern Irish word for seagull, ‘faoilean’, so the term means ‘seagull damsel’. In fact, these words are borrowed from the Scots Gaelic which is similar to the Irish.

Question: I was wondering how you would pronounce ‘caileagh faoileag?’
Reply: You would say “coil-loch fwill-ag” with the emphasis on the ‘coil’, and equal emphasis on the ‘fwill’ and ‘ag’ bits. The ch sound is like the German, or Scottish, gutteral ch sound, so the loch part is said just as the Scottish say ‘loch’. In Irish the tendency is to pronounce every letter individually as the word is being said, so each vowel is pronounced very briefly on its own, if that makes sense! Therefore, ‘coil’ is really more like ‘cor-ill’ and ‘fwill’ is like ‘fa-o-ill’. Difficult to get the tongue around at the best of times, but beautiful to hear. (With thanks to Fergal and Brianne for advice on the Irish language.)

Question: ‘Dear Cecilia, I am an eleven year old who just started reading The Ill-Made Mute. I’ve read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and I heard your books were like it, so I got it. I already like it (even though I’m only on page 14!) and I was wondering if there’s going to be a movie produced. I hope it does! From a big fan, Hayley Payton’.

Question: Many people have been talking about making The Ill Made Mute into a film. How soon do you think this will happen and where do you think the ideal surroundings for shooting the movies will be?

Reply: I am fortunate in that my work is represented by well-known producer Vince Gerardis, the man responsible for bringing Game of Thrones to our screens. As for potential locations for filming, New Zealand’s south island springs to mind, but there are also many fairytale settings throughout Europe and Asia. Modern CGI techniques can create stunning settings out of thin air, too.

Question: If the Bitterbynde Trilogy were made into a series of movies, who would be your choice for actors, soundtrack music etc?

Actors: For Thorn and Morragan I’d choose Tom Mison, or actors with a close resemblance to Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye in “The Last of the Mohicans”. Ian Somerhalder would also be great.

Accents: In the books, the way people speak (or don’t speak!) is very important, as it helps to define their background. The Faêran speak with lilting Irish accents, the Icemen with Scandinavian, the Feorhkind with several varieties of English accents depending on their station in life. Urisks and many wights have Scottish or Manx or Cornish accents depending on where their legend originates, and Ashalind’s people have a Welsh inflection.

Music: I like most 21st century movie soundtracks. Favourite composers include Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman.

Question: What colour are Imrhien/ Rohain’s eyes?

Reply: Green

Question: You say in the books that Imrhien/ Rohain has a peculiar accent. Could you describe it more fully for me?

Reply: Have you ever heard a person from South Wales speaking? That’s Imrhien’s accent.

Question: I hope answering this doesn’t give away too much about The Battle of Evernight, but I was wondering what ‘Lhiannan’ meant. Morragan addressed Ashalind by this name in Book 3, and I don’t think it says anywhere what it means. Is it his secret?

Reply: “Lhiannon” means “sweetheart” in Irish Gaelic, and also in the Faêran language.

Question: What is the correct usage of the term ‘Faêran’? And did you invent it?

Reply: Yes, I did invent it. It first appeared in print in 2001, when The Ill-Made Mute was published. Since then, the word ‘Faêran’ has sometimes been mistakenly confused with the Old English ‘faran’ – ‘to frighten’. The confusion arose due to the normal dictionary practice of using phonetic spelling. The phonetic symbol ‘æ’ represents the short ‘a’ vowel sound, as in ‘sad’, so the word ‘faran’ is shown in dictionaries as ‘færan’, to ensure that it is pronounced properly. In the International Phonetic Alphabet, this letter is called ‘ash’.

Wikipedia: ‘Æ (minuscule: æ) is a grapheme formed from the letters a and e. Originally a ligature representing a Latin diphthong, it has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of many languages. As a letter of the Old English alphabet, it was called æsc ‘ash tree’ after the Anglo-Saxon futhorc rune which it transliterated; its traditional name in English is still ash.’

As for the correct usage of the term – it can be used as a collective noun or an adjective. For example, no one is ‘a Faêran’. They must be ‘one of the Faêran’. To get it wrong would be like saying someone is ‘an English’. An artefact can be of Faêran make, but no one speaks ‘Faêran’ – they speak ‘the Faêran tongue’ or ‘the Faêran language’. Ideally the written word should include ê (e-circumflex) – i.e. ‘Faêran’.

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