Spelling the Spells

Hello! This is Christopher Russell, Megan O’Russell’s husband. Megan and I have reached the end of her first series: The Tethering. This is a journey on which we embarked when Megan saw—in her mind’s eye—a boy waiting in a window. She had to find out why he was there. That led to the first book in the series, and it all just gushed forth from there.

Throughout the four books, I have been Megan’s chief spell linguist and co-fight choreographer. The fight choreo was pretty straightforward. I was involved in the martial arts from the time I was two-years-old until about eighteen and have since worked in the theatre, where I have performed dance and fight choreography in multiple productions spanning more than a decade.

But as I said, that was the easy part. Being the chief spell linguist was much more time-consuming, required much more creativity, and involved a lot of research. J.K. Rowling, for instance, took her spells pretty much directly from the Latin. In order to do so, she had to make sure the spells not only matched the desired effect, but that they also sounded good when spoken aloud. Think about it. How easy is it to hear the word “lumos” in your mind? It just rolls of the tongue. As does “expelliarmus.”

With that in mind, I set to creating a language that was not quite as married to the traditional Latin while still sounding good to the reader and achieving the desired effect of the spell. For example, the first spell Jacob learns as a combative spell is “fulguratus.” This is a combination of the Latin words “fulgur” meaning “lightning, thunderbolt,” and “impetus” meaning “attack, violence.” I combined the two, making “fulguretus” but then decided that replacing the “e” with an “a” made the spell sound better. That’s how “fulguratus” was born.

And that’s how I created the vast majority of spells in the four books of The Tethering Series. There were also a few spells made up of Irish Gaelic for the centaurs, a more mystical race that draw their magic directly from the earth beneath their hooves. And there was one spell that was a phrase written in English jumbled up “darthera undolfa ebghodt.”

I hope that, if you haven’t already, you get a chance to read about the boy in the window. His journey is one of love and life in troubled times—a theme to which I believe we can all relate, especially amidst current events.

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