Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A question of identity

by Carola Dunn

When I speak to an audience of readers, the question I hear most often is: "Where do you get your ideas?" The second most frequent is: "How do you pronounce your name?" That's much easier to answer!

Carola--just like Carol or Carolyn or Caroline. NOT Ca-Roll-a, let alone Corolla, Crayola or any similar trademark. However, I do forgive people who say it wrong--the first four or five times.

The next thing people say is "I've never heard it before. Did your mother make it up?"

No, she didn't. If I remember correctly (which I frequently don't), she once told me she named me after a favourite book called Life as Carola, by Joan Grant.

This is one of an interesting series supposedly describing one of her own incarnations, as was her first book, Winged Pharoah, set in ancient Egypt. I read and loved Winged Pharoah, but I could never quite bring myself to read Life as Carola--altogether too weird!

I've met several Carolas, too. My godmother had a cousin called Carola. After I left school (Friends' School Saffron Walden), I understand another Carola arrived there. When I lived in Carlsbad, California, I had a call from a lady called Carola who'd read about me in the local paper. And in Eugene, where I live now, the head of the area's forestry service police turned up at a book-signing, not because she was interested in the book but because her name was Carola. So we're not common (Heaven forbid), but I am not alone.

I've met a Carola in at least one mystery series: Robert Barnard's Charlie Peace has a daughter of that name. And another mystery connection--this is an old poster for a phonograph, owned by Larry Karp, author of The Ragtime Kid.

Here are some other Carolas:

Carola's Parotia Bird of Paradise. Do check out this link and see them dance.

Historian Carola Oman, author of one of the best biographies of Nelson ever written, or so I understand.

Another queen: A Swedish princess who became queen of Saxony. There's a port in New Guinea called Queen Carola's Harbour, which I think must be named after her, but I couldn't get a picture of it. The Parotia may also be named for her. I like the look of her!

I just googled images of Queen Carola's Harbour and found a pic of me and several of my book covers! Also a painting by Paul Wyeth, on sale at Christie's, of his wife and daughters, Mrs Titula Wyeth, Carina and Carola in the Studio.

And then there's the Swedish singer Carola, who won the Eurovision song contest in 2006!

So, you see, I'm in good company, though I have to admit I don't know how any of these Carolas pronounced our name.

PS I hate to boast, but I just heard from my UK editor that according to The Bookseller:

"This week's number one [on The Accelerators list]... is A Mourning Wedding, Carola Dunn's 13th 1920s-set Daisy Dalrymple mystery [increase in sales 406%]. Publishers Robinson has just completed its mission of publishing all 19 books in the series, beginning with Death at Wentwater Court two years ago. Book 20, Gone West, hits shelves in February."
[And Die Laughing is at #5!]
The accelerators chart comprises books that have been out for at least two full weeks and have experienced the biggest week-on-week sales boost. All data derived from Nielsen BookScan

I'm not sure of the significance, but it sounds good!


L.J. Sellers said...

I think your name is lovely and unique...unlike mine, which is so common, it forced me to initials long ago.

Rose Maybud said...

I'm so glad you posted on how to pronounce your name--I'm dismayed to realize that I've been pronouncing it wrong all these years! But I love the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries, and the series in Cornwall too.

I thought my real name was unique--Taffy French--until I discovered there's a photographer in a Midwestern state with the same name.

Currently, I'm writing under my pen name, Rose Maybud, which I borrowed from a Gilbert and Sullivan opera.

Anonymous said...

Being a just plain Carol, I've always envied your unique spelling of a similar name. It looks lovely on the front of your books. Hah! Pronounced it correctly, too.

L.J., I guess that's why I use initials, too.

Carola said...

Rose/Taffy--what a lovely place to find a pen-name! My godmother was known to friends as Buttercup--not Little Buttercup but I assume it came from G&S!

There is, in fact, another Carola Dunn recently arrived on Facebook--besides my personal page and official and unofficial (FB created) author pages. I think Scandinavian--I messaged her but haven't heard back.

Marni said...

The perils of an unusual name! My first name is really Marnette--you can't imagine how that got slaughtered in school, most often by people using 3 syllables instead of two. Friends call me Marni, but I used M. K. Graff for The Blue Virgin~

Michelle said...

O.K., so it's Carol-luh? I wasn't sure if it was like the car.

Jackie King said...

Loved your post. I'm another person who has been mispronouncing your name incorrectly. Thanks for setting me straight.