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Guest post: Rainbow Rowell

April 12, 2012

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.”

Strained peace.

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.

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37 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth F permalink
    April 12, 2012 7:28 am

    This looks like it could be fun read. As for the Rainbow. I can relate a little bit. I have never met in person, face to face, another woman with my same real name. Although my name has become more common in the last couple of decades, I’m too old to have shared my name in normal social situations. I *always* loved having a unique name. But, then again, my name isn’t Rainbow! LOL.

  2. April 12, 2012 8:51 am

    I remember being in middle school and changing my name for one year to Caroline. I had all my teachers calling me that, but my friends still called me Heather. It was rather confusing, and when a teacher would call my name, sometimes I didn’t know who she was talking to! I think Rainbow is a really interesting name, but I can imagine that she would have trouble with it as an adolescent, but I am really glad that she stuck with it, because it’s wonderfully original. I loved this guest post!

  3. April 12, 2012 9:36 am

    Interesting thoughts shared on her name. I loved this post.

  4. April 12, 2012 9:37 am

    I loved reading her response on her name. I loved this post.

  5. April 12, 2012 9:56 am

    Great question. ‘Rainbow’ does sound like a pen name. I like it and understand why she wouldn’t change it. It’s kind of nice to be unique. While not unusual, my name is not real common either, which is nice because I don’t get confused with anyone else too often.

  6. April 12, 2012 9:58 am

    I think parents don’t give adequate consideration to the effect of a name on a kid!

  7. April 12, 2012 11:36 am

    Oh, I loved this post! I have a very common name, and didn’t always like it either.

  8. April 12, 2012 11:44 am

    I grew up with what can be called an “old lady” name and every now and then it bothered me. Whenever I met another Martha I always ask if they were named after a grandma or aunt (in my case an aunt), very rarely is Martha pulled out of the air for a name. Great post. I can’t wait to read this book.

  9. April 12, 2012 12:16 pm

    A very interesting name, loved the post.

  10. bookingmama permalink
    April 12, 2012 12:16 pm

    I have this book in my pile and I think I’d love it. Sounds like it will be a lot of fun!

  11. April 12, 2012 12:18 pm

    Rainbow’s certainly an original and lovely name! Terrific post, Kathy and Rainbow!

  12. April 12, 2012 12:40 pm

    I always wanted a more unique name than “Anna,” but I’ve come to terms with it over the years. Loved this post!

  13. April 12, 2012 12:56 pm

    I wonder if you are allowed to have a “down” day with a name like Rainbow. I bet everyone always expects her to be perky and happy 24/7!

    My daughter’s name is EMMA and her middle name is Kayden and she told me that when she turns 10, she wants to be called Kayden. What’s wrong with Emma? It’s pretty popular but it’s classic.

  14. April 12, 2012 1:44 pm

    I always wanted an unusual names. Alas, I can’t imagine actually changing it.

  15. April 12, 2012 3:08 pm

    As someone who was once one of four Megans in a middle school classroom, I can appreciate the value of a unique name — as well as the troubles that would cause growing up! Rainbow has a great sense of humor, you can tell, and I’m really looking forward to reading Attachments.

  16. April 12, 2012 3:18 pm

    I ADORED this post. The book sounds great (Hi, I’m the guy who reads your email. And also I love you) Sweet! Rainbow sounds like a wonderful, bright, amazing being … kinda like a rainbow.

  17. April 12, 2012 3:28 pm

    I can relate to this post a lot. Though Lucy is a more popular name now, when I grew up with it people thought it was very unusual. Glad Rainbow kept her name :)

    I’ve never heard of this book but it sounds awesome. Working in offices, the internet security team is always in the back of your mind when you are gossiping with your friends. But what a unique love story idea!

  18. April 12, 2012 4:19 pm

    I actually just picked this up a couple weeks ago, and plan to read it next!

  19. April 12, 2012 4:48 pm

    Oh…this novel sounds so good…I love the name Rainbow!!!

  20. April 12, 2012 4:55 pm

    I just finished reading this book myself and I have to say that it was absolutely amazing!!! I cannot recommend this one highly enough right now.

    Oh, and I feel her pain. My name is “Jonita” and nobody really knows how to pronounce it or spell it, depending if you are seeing it or hearing it first. But I have grown to love its uniqueness :)

  21. April 12, 2012 5:58 pm

    This is wonderful!! As a “Jennifer,” I always hated my name because it was so omnipresent and boring. Funny how you always want what you don’t have. The book is fantastic too!! I really enjoyed it.

  22. April 12, 2012 7:07 pm

    I’ve heard this book is great. I need to check it out.

  23. April 12, 2012 7:12 pm

    I just tweeted this…I finished “Attachments” by Rainbow Rowell, a wonderful, quirky, romantic laugh out loud hilarious book! do yourself a favor & read it!

  24. April 12, 2012 8:31 pm

    I have not even heard of this one yet, but it sounds fantastically fun! and what a great response from Rainbow about her name….I too would have thought it was a pseudenym if she had not said differently

  25. stacijoreads permalink
    April 12, 2012 8:41 pm

    I read about this one and liked the idea but not once did I double take on the author’s name!!:)

  26. April 12, 2012 9:09 pm

    I loved this post! I have a fairly common name and I felt the same way, because no one else in my elementary school was named Leslie. I can’t imagine now being named anything else. (Well, except Lu, but I didn’t give myself that nickname either. And I wasn’t very happy about it at first!)

  27. April 13, 2012 1:52 pm

    Kathy, what a great question to her. Rainbow I loved your response, genuine and funny. I totally get it and then at 18 realising i’m unique. I’m sure you will still get judged over your name thinking you gave yourself the nickname :-) I love unique names and noticed it immediately, didn’t consider it a pen name though.

  28. April 13, 2012 1:54 pm

    I forgot to say, I really enjoyed Attachments, gave it a 4. My review if interested. http://teawithmarce.blogspot.com/2012/03/review-attachments-by-rainbow-rowell.html

  29. April 13, 2012 3:04 pm

    I agree with a name like Rainbow the author is unforgettable. I also think that in the literary field it may be a plus.

    Kudos to the author for an entertaining and insightful guest post!

  30. April 13, 2012 3:34 pm

    I enjoyed reading this guest post and have the book on my TBR list.

  31. April 13, 2012 5:25 pm

    This is a great guest post. I think “Rainbow” is a unique and different name. I can understand it being difficult during younger schoo years when everyone says they want to be an individual but they really want to be like everybody else! It must be a special name to her mom, too!

  32. April 13, 2012 8:18 pm

    Great post! I like unusual names and I think her name suits her. I also really want to read this book. I’ve heard some great things about it.

  33. April 13, 2012 9:25 pm

    It’s hard to find people who LOVE their name with no complaints. Most want it less popular, some want it more. It’s hard to find that name that is just right. I know it’s something Jason and I struggled with in naming Gage. As for Rainbow, well, she will definitely have the only rainbow slot in most everyone’s brains ;)

  34. April 13, 2012 11:46 pm

    Kathy, thanks so much for welcoming me on your blog. (And thanks, everyone, for giving my book a shot.) This was actually a really fun subject for me to think and write about. I gave my two sons unusual names — so I must not think it’s a bad thing after all …

  35. April 14, 2012 9:43 pm

    That post just made me go deja-vu! I can’t even begin to say how many times I’ve considered changing my name simply because no one could ever pronounce it right! But then, like Rainbow, people didn’t know too many people by my name, so I was usually remembered vividly, ha! Loved this post, and I have Rainbow on my shelf, so I can’t wait to read it.

  36. chrisbookarama permalink
    April 17, 2012 7:45 am

    I wondered about her name when I read the book. I really enjoyed reading it. I had issues with my last name growing up since everyone I knew had a Mac in theirs and I didn’t. I really wanted to be a MacSomething too.

  37. April 18, 2012 10:32 am

    I can see where a kid would have an issue with a name like Rainbow. Not only is it unique and un-blend-in-able, but it has an enforced cheeriness that no one could ever feel ALL the time. I have a name that was popular in the sixties- my mother loved it but it was so trendy that 4 other girls in my Kindergarden class had the same name. It’s also a name that sounds dated and nobody gives their children these days. I gave my kids classic names that we hoped wouldn’t go out of style. They like their names but secretly wish they were a bit trendier.

    LOVED Attachments when I read it last year!!

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