Saturday, 4 April 2009
Here I go Again.... Catherine Johnson(but not that one)
This week I shall be mostly talking about names. I'm not sure if my new lead characters' name is fixed yet. I keep changing my mind which is not a good thing. I find that once I am completely sure about the name the character flows quite easily. People grow into their names, in fiction and in real life. So until I am sure I am a bit like a foal in the wind, skittish and unsettled.
My own name has been very easy to grow into. It's one of those dead common names that you could find - I bet - anywhere around the English speaking world. There are loads of other writers with the same name, an autism and animal behaviour expert (she does the books with Temple Grandin), a TV and Media lecturer and academic and of course Catherine Johnson, dramatist and writer of Mama Mia. I am not any of them.
Every month, every few days when the film came out I would find emails either from school headmasters in Denmark who want to do a shortened version for their end of year concert, sloppy BBC researchers wanting me to appear on Front Row (a few seconds of excitement there), or tourists from Idaho who are 'passing through your London' and would like the opportunity to take me out for lunch at the Ritz.
Up until this year I used to receive some fees due to the other Catherine Johnson, last year she recieved my advance (don't worry we swopped).
I suppose I could change my name, but I've had the same one for over forty years now and I'd find it hard to change. And anyway, names mean a lot. My parents gave my brother and I dull, heads-down, names. Names that wouldn't get us noticed any more than necessary. I think this was because they'd both had screaming look-at-me names that meant every time they introduced themselves people always said 'What?'.
My Dad's first name was Sturdee, named after some obscure British Admiral, my Mum's parents decided to go boldly and make up a brand new name for her - Erinwen Mai (in case you're wondering it means white plum of May in Welsh). No one ever got that right either. So I can see why they did it, and although I used to hate Catherine,(never, never call me Cathy) I feel utterly at home with it now.