Guest post: Rainbow Rowell
I’m really excited to welcome Rainbow Rowell, the author of Attachments, here today! Since I have a fairly common name, I asked her what it’s like to grow up with an unusual one. I just love her delightful response.
I don’t ever remember liking my name.
There must have been a year or two when I didn’t think anything about it beyond, “Those are the two syllables people use when they’re about to give me mashed bananas.”
And then there was probably another year of, “Those are also the two syllables people use to describe those lovely stripes.”
But after that, for decades after that, I’ve been stuck in a nonstop state of, “You named me what?”
“You can change it when you’re eighteen,” my mom always said.
“I will,” I always replied. “Just you wait. I’m going to change it to Sarah with an H.” (“Sarah with an H” was my “Anne with an E.”)
“Fine with me,” my mom said, exactly as carelessly as you’d expect from a woman who named her firstborn “Rainbow.”
Well. I turned 18. I made it all the way through school with this ridiculous name, and then when I could finally change it, I realized that there was no way I ever would.
Everyone in my life already knew me as “Rainbow,” and if I asked them to start calling me “Sarah” now, they’d laugh at me. It would be like trying to give myself a nickname.
So I made peace with “Rainbow.”
As a writer and newspaper reporter, my name always starts out a liability. Everyone – and I mean, everyone – assumes that it’s a pen name. So then they assume I’m the sort of person who wants to be called “Rainbow”. . .
I’ll give you a moment to compose a mental picture of that person. (I always imagine Sunshine Dore, the flaky blind date in Harold and Maude. http://www.myspace.com/video/mystery-hole/harold-and-maude-sunshine-dore/1481462)
This was awful when I was just starting out as reporter in rural Iowa, trying to get sheriffs and county attorneys and hog farmers to take me seriously.
And I sometimes wonder if my name slowed down my attempts to get an agent when I was first shopping around Attachments.
But what I’ve found, after living with an unusual name for so many years, is that usually ends up becoming an asset.
It distinguishes me in people’s minds. They don’t know any other Rainbow’s – so I get my own slot in their brains. My name seems to give me permission to distinguish myself. It’s like people already expect me to be different and quickly accept my quirks.
And I accept them myself.
When your name is “Rainbow,” you never get to blend into the crowd. Once I got over that painful, grade-school desire to be anonymous, this became very freeing. If I can’t blend in, I may as well be who I am.
I’ve been writing a newspaper column for The Omaha World-Herald since 1997, so around here; almost everybody is over my name.
When I finally did get an agent, I asked him if he thought I should go by “R.S. Rowell.” I was worried that people would see Attachments and think that my book was filled with sunshine, unicorns and Froot Loops.
But he said no. “It might turn some people off,” he said, “but at least it stands out.”
Story of my life.
About the book:
Beth and Jennifer know their company monitors their office e-mail. But the women still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers at the newspaper and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can’t seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.
When Lincoln applied to be an Internet security officer, he hardly imagined he’d be sifting through other people’s inboxes like some sort of electronic Peeping Tom. Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can’t quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can’t help but be entertained-and captivated- by their stories.
But by the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you.” After a series of close encounters and missed connections, Lincoln decides it’s time to muster the courage to follow his heart . . . even if he can’t see exactly where it’s leading him.
Written with whip-smart precision and charm, Attachments is a strikingly clever and deeply romantic debut about falling in love with the person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Even if it’s someone you’ve never met.