This one started with the fireplace. Then, of course, I had to have something to go in the rest of the room. Well, I was reading lots of wizard stories those days (Crystal Cave, the Earthsea Trilogy, Lord of the Rings) so, yeah. A wizard would have a fireplace like that. But then I had to fill up the bottom of the picture. A Wizard sure as hell wouldn't have, like, an Irish setter snoozing by the hearth. Okay, how 'bout a dragon?
I immediately knew that the dragon's name was Benshai. But the wizard's name remaind a mystery until one night when my friend Kelly was visiting. I tossed a book about raptors at her and said, "Find me a name for a wizard." (All wizards have names of raptors, right? Merlyn? Sparrowhawk? Okay, nevermind about Gandalf. Wild datum....)
She leafed and studied, and a while later piped up, "How about Bataleur?" ZING! Only later did I happen to run across the term in an encyclopedia (I never actually looked at the entry Kelly had found in my book) did I find out that the word is French for "juggler" or "magician." Goose-bumps, man, goose-bumps.
--25 August 1997