The Wizadry of words

by | Feb 2, 2022 | Newsletter

Someone recently commented that even though they consider themselves well read, they needed to look up several words they came across in Hennessey’s latest adventure. It’s not the first time a reader has said this.
I get it. Works set in the era of One For Another and Dying Grass Moon are a great resource for interesting words. I often jot down those I think might be of use. After I have looked them up:

a) to find out what the heck they mean since they are strangers to me and
b) to see if they will fit a scene in one of Hennessey’s stories.

I get ridiculously excited when I find a particularly good word, and even more ridiculously excited when I can insert it in the perfect place. Talk about satisfying.

There are times, admittedly, when I get a bit lazy and think I know what a word means or how it is pronounced, but rather than work it out recognize it (names, in particular) through the story instead of finding out for sure.
And there are words I am familiar with in their guise as verbs, not nouns. Defile is a classic example. As a verb one meaning, according to my go-to, the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which, in many cases, handily has the year the word was first recorded as used it is ‘To treat (a secret place or object) shamefully or with great disrespect’. In its latter form it is ‘a narrow passage (as between hills, rocks or cliffs)’.

Let’s face it, words are a moving feast, but such fun!



It’s a bit of a thrill to see One For Another in the Top 100 of a category after a promo.(Even if it’s only for a couple of hours. Things move fast in the Amazon world).

andreajacka

Did you know . . .

  • Amity buttons were often set into the newel post of the main staircase in old houses. Made of whalebone, mother of pearl or ivory, these small buttons signified there was no lien on the house. Those newel posts weren’t just for support. Apparently, many are hollow and sometimes the original house plans were left inside them. There are even cases of love letters and other precious papers being hidden there.
  • Not only humans suffer epidemics. In 1872/73, equine flu swept through the horse and mule population of Canada and Central America. It was so severe America plunged into a depression. Everything drew to a standstill. Coal, produce and crops went undelivered. Men resorted to towing transportation and fire trucks. Henry Bergh (founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was instrumental during and after this time in improving the lives of our four-legged friends. Read more
  • Dogs can smell under water. We know canines have an amazing sense of smell, but there are dogs specially trained to locate people in rivers, lakes and streams (even if a body is deep in the water these incredible animals can find them).

On my bedside table at the moment is Wild Chamber, by Christopher Fowler.

A young woman is found dead in a small, locked private park in an exclusive residential area in London. Her missing dog, a face in the background of a photo taken of her minutes before she died, and subsequent murders send the team of the Peculiar Crimes Unit on a mission to find a killer.

I’d never heard of Christopher Fowler before I picked up one of his books at the library. (I’m a huge library user and pick books at random, generally going on the title – cover next. I’ve discovered some absolute winners this way)
Lo and behold I found a contemporary, quirky detective series set in London – stories that weave strange murders around that ancient city’s history.
The characters are unlike any I have ever come across, especially Arthur Bryant. The writing, like the characters is funny and original, the story-lines unusual.
This series has become a real favorite.
(The wild chamber of the title is an archaic term for gardens and parks).

Christopher Fowler

The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.
Maya Angelou

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