Sorry for the radio silence. I've been busy, busy and also had to fit in another hasty trip to South Africa.
I thought I'd share with you this piece in The Guardian newspaper about Twilight loving parents naming their offspring after characters in Stephenie Meyers' books. I was wondering how many other authors can command this kind of loyalty of their readers.
My name too, was literary inspired. During her pregnancy my mother read War and Peace and loved it. I was named after Countess Natasha Rostova, a beautiful woman who is also a delightful dancer and singer. My mother was an opera singer herself and I'm guessing she was hoping I would be blessed with the same silver vocal chords as my namesake. Sadly, no. The fictional Natasha also has men driven to teeth-gnashing distraction by her beauty and falling in love with her left and right. No wonder my mother succumbed to wishful thinking.
When I was in my twenties I tackled Tolstoy's massive tome and was amazed on two accounts. First, I was greatly impressed by my mother's stamina. In the first volume of Tolstoy's massive tome, Natasha is only a thirteen year old girl but then goes through many -- and I mean many -- trials and tribulations before - gasp -- finally ending up happily married to the novel's main hero. I know this novel is considered a work of towering literary genius, but I have to be honest: if it weren't for the fact that I was reading the book that inspired my name, I doubt I would have made it past the Battle of Borodino.
Second: I realized my mother has a weird penchant for desperately tragic tales set in Russia. We're talking revolution. Societies imploding. Armies perishing in the snow. After finishing War and Peace my Mum moved on to Boris Pasternak's doomed Dr. Zhivago and it became a toss-up whether I would be named Lara or Natasha. In the end Natasha prevailed because it means "nativity" and as it turned out I was born on Christmas Day (six days late). It was obviously meant. Aaw.
One of the lovely things about being a writer is that you have the freedom to name your characters. Well, most of the time. In Keeper of Light and Dust I wanted to call my heroine Katrina and nickname her Cricket. My American editor approved but my British editor most emphatically did not. She complained that there were too many creepy crawlies in the book already: a) my villain's alter ego is "Dragonfly" and b) my heroine keeps a chameleon as a pet. I like Katrina and wanted to stick with this name, but in the end decided to opt for the name Mia instead. Katrina without Cricket would have turned into Kat and we'd still have a problem.
The greatest fun I had with names was in Season of the Witch. Minnaloushe and Morrighan Monk: don't you just love the alliteration? I've adored the name Minnaloushe ever since I read Yates's wonderful poem, "The Cat and the Moon" and had long waited for an opportunity to use it in one of my books. But I had a problem: "Black Minnaloushe" is a tom not a tabby. Minnaloushe is a man’s name.
I finally decided to simply ignore this awkward fact. To my mind Minnaloushe sounds utterly feminine, gorgeous and voluptuous. In fact, wouldn't it be a lovely name for a little red-haired baby girl somewhere? (Hint.) She'll hate you for it, of course, and will have to endure cruel taunting on the playground but it will be worth it once she's all grown. What guy won't fall for a woman with a delicious name like that?
So let me know if any of you has succumbed to the temptation of naming your little one after Harry (Potter), James (Bond) or Anita (Blake). BTW the other name my mother liked was Amber, after the busty, ambitious courtesan in Kathleen Winsor's Restoration novel Forever Amber who starts out as a village girl and becomes a Duchess. More wishful thinking.