Elisena—I googled it by accident once, and found out elisena’s a plant species. (The spiderworts) I thought it was a variant of Elizabeth, which it may indeed be. I used to work in retail advertising, and looked at Women’s Wear Daily tear sheets for inspiration. Someone names Elizinha got photographed at some gala, and I lifted the name.
Esdragon was supposed to be Estragon, the French name for tarragon. I spelled it wrong, and decided I liked it. Calandra is Greek, it means “lark”. I used to read name dictionaries regularly, keeping lists of those I thought would work for my invented world. Allaire is certainly from a “What Shall We Name the Baby” book.
Polassar is named for Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Narbopolassar. And any resemblance between the big guy and Yukon Cornelius (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) is something I didn’t notice till years later—but I did begin writing The Ring of Allaire just after Christmas, in January 1978. Reynaud was probably inspired by a Thomas Canty pencil drawing titled “Reynardine”.
Valadan is a name I thought I coined. Turns out it really is a surname. I was after something that I would like as much as Ursula LeGuin’s dragon-names in A Wizard of Earthsea, something that would echo “valiant” in the reader’s ear. So far as I know, I’m the first to use the name for a horse—and Valadan has been mentioned in an article in Horse Illustrated about how to choose a good name for your horse. A thoroughbred named Valadan also raced at Philadelphia Park—though he was a brown gelding and not a black stallion, he was foaled after Prince of Ill Luck appeared, and I feel strongly that there’s no coincidence involved. Someone once asked permission to name an Arabian filly Kessallia—I don’t know that it ever happened. That one could have been a handful!