There is much to be said for elemental spirits in folklore. There are dryads for the trees, mermaids and sprites for the water and air, demons for fire and gods for thunder. But when you start to veer away from the elements into manmade territory, these myths and legends start to become more scarce.
In some cultures, ancient beliefs have interwoven with modern technology in fascinating ways. In Japan, the god of electricity, commonly translated as Raiden, is often thought to imbue modern appliances. There is also a belief in tsukumogami, or objects over 100 years old. These are said to receive sentience, or life of their own after this time passes.
Thinking about the term elemental, once you start leaving the realm of this, it’s hard to ascribe mythical properties to anything that has been produced. When thinking about what is naturally occurring, it occurred to me, that while very rare, it is possible for glass to be spontaneously, naturally made by lightning striking sand. And I thought one step further, that a resulting spiritual entity might be both rare and therefore highly sought-after.
However there is no word for a spirit of glass. Is it a sprite? Is it some sort of ghost in an object? What does it look like? These are all questions I have answered in my short story, “The Cult of the Hyalad,” in Transmundane Press’s anthology In the Air.
It turns out, creating a word is usually more of a crowd-sourced event. While many words are coined by individuals, (such as cli-fi or jabberwocky) they need to become part of general use before being considered words. So while I have invented a word that works for my purposes, unless others start to use it, it will remain endemic to my writing.
Etymology has always fascinated me, and while I am far from an expert in it, I wanted the word to be as correct as I could make it. I researched the roots of dryad and found it came from Ancient Greek, via various other languages to arrive in English. It literally means ‘oak’. I looked up the Greek word for glass which is hyalo- and comes from Egyptian, mashed it with dryad and presto, hyalad or what I roughly equate to glass nymph was born.
My story is centred in part around these creatures, but it is also a tale of witches, conjuring, casting off the shackles of Victorian womanhood and reveling in the unusual and arcane.
Adrik Kemp is an Australian author of speculative fiction, fantasy and horror tales. He identifies as queer, and happily lives in Sydney with his husband.
He has published short stories about aliens, mermaids, interplanetary pen pals, vampire cowboys, AI, ESP and much more. Notably, these have been published through Aurealis Magazine, Third Flatiron Press, Transmundane Press & Pride Publishing. He wants to explore as many varied worlds, situations and relationships as he can through words.
Adrik has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. He was honoured to be the winner of the 2015 OutStanding LGBTIQ Short Story Competition in Sydney, Australia.
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