The main character in the Ticking series of books is named Skypilot.
Writers of fiction cower at one of the unwritten rules, this one in a loud voice from above and accompanied by thunder: “Of thy main characters, [insert clap of thunder here] thou shalt make-up but a single weird name”.
For Ticking, I wanted a name that is odd, different for my protagonist; something that reflected his religious family background, a connection to Classic Rock and the choice that his progressive missionary parents made when he was born.
A “Sky pilot” is a member of the clergy, especially a military chaplain who blesses the troops – like in The Animals 1968 song of the same name – prior to battle.
As mentioned in Ticking: A Tale of Two Time Travellers, Sky was not the only one in his school with a different name. Some recent, actual names for babies include: Aoife (for a girl, pronounced EE-fa), Cookie, Peaches, Sugar, Dove, Elon, Falcon, Lark, Oak, Sable, Cub, Lion, Coyote and, of course, Sequoia.
Game of Thrones fans selected Oberyn, Rhaegar, Margaery and Daenerys, the spellings of which will frustrate teachers, coaches and aunts completing birthday cards for years to come. Other parents chose to honour authors, like Hawthorne, Sinclair and Whitman. I am not sure as to the current popularity of “Vann” as a given name, but my upcoming trip to the year 2036 will reveal its future popularity.
The trouble with time travel (how could there be more than one?) is that, upon arrival, you must be able to converse. Zac and Sky speak only English and a bit of French. Their travels are generally restricted to those places in which inhabitants speak these languages. And, the further back in time they travel, the less recognizable these languages will be.
Alim, with his family background, was able to provide an exception, teaching the guys Aramaic.
Aramaic, an ancient language of the Middle East, is still spoken by some, mostly Jews and Christians, in parts of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. It was the common language of Jesus’ time in the Middle East. Jesus – or Yeshu as he would have been called – spoke Aramaic.
Aramaic is written from right to left, with all the letters representing consonants. Virtually all modern Middle Eastern writing systems and many Asian systems can be traced to it. Aramaic itself has different dialects – like Targumic and Syriac – with Jesus speaking the biblical version.
At its apex, Aramaic had spread to become the lingua franca of the Persian empire.