by Patricia Gligor
What’s in a Name?
Shakespeare’s Juliet said: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
The Juliet rose is the most expensive rose ever developed. (Photo: David Austin Roses)
Although the heavenly Juliet rose can be purchased for less than the $5 million price tag listed above, it is known as the “£3 million rose” because that’s how much it cost famed rose breeder David Austin to create the apricot-hued hybrid over the course of 15 years. It debuted in 2006 at the Chelsea Flower Show and took the floral world by storm not only for its blushing beauty but because it was the most expensive rose ever developed.
What’s in a Name? According to several researchers, it’s not simple. They claim that a name can have an effect on everything from your school grades and career choice to who you marry and where you live.
“Your name can influence the assumptions other people make about your character and background, and thus the chances you are given in life,” says Richard Wiseman — a case in point, he’s a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire.
“It can also be a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. If your name sounds intelligent, successful and attractive, you are more likely to act those things.”
Whether or not what those experts say is true, names are important; they represent who we are. So, for authors, choosing the name that will appear on the covers of their books is a big deal.
When my first novel, Mixed Messages, was accepted for publication, my mother asked me what name I planned to go by, what pen name I was going to use. “Maybe,” she said, “you should choose a name that’s easier to pronounce than Gligor. Don’t most writers do that?”
Her questions reminded me of an article I once read. It was an interview with the actress, Jacqueline Bisset. When the interviewer told Jacqueline he’d heard several variations on how to pronounce her last name and asked her which was correct, she replied, “Biss-it, like kiss it.” I think that answered his question.
The names we choose for the characters in our novels matter too. They’re especially important in character-driven novels, like the books in my Malone Mystery series. So, I try to select names that “feel” right for my characters, names which seem to fit them. I have a Name Your Baby book and I look up the meanings and derivations of the names I plan to use before I start to write their story.
Now, back to the answer, I gave my mother. While I don’t see anything wrong with using a pseudonym (sometimes a writer has a good reason to do that), I prefer not to. Why? Because Gligor is my family name; it was my grandfather’s and my father’s name and I’m proud to have it. As far as the pronunciation goes: Gligor rhymes with tiger. Not too hard to pronounce, after all, is it?
Is there a story behind your name or your character’s name?