A Rose by Any Other Name

My very first review in a major publication (AlphaOops, Publisher’s Weekly) had the wrong ISBN for the book. This caused more confusion than I thought it would, and I discussed complained whined about it to a mentor of mine. His response was: “Listen: it could be the worst review in the world. As long as they get the title of the book right, trust me, it doesn’t matter.”

In that regard, I am so glad that I’ve been blessed with titles like “Enchanted” and “Hero.” Even “AlphaOops” has been spelled right every single time.

Alethea MermaidWhich is a good thing, because my name has been butchered up and down the internet for years…and it’s only gotten worse.

My name is Alethea Kontis. Here’s how you pronounce it: http://www.teachingbooks.net/pronounce.cgi?aid=18395

I have a YouTube channel, on which I state my name at the beginning of every single video. It’s right at the top of my FAQs. More importantly: IT’S SPELLED JUST LIKE IT SOUNDS. Like most foreign names, you just pronounce every letter. Since its origin is Greek, there really is no “correct” way to spell it in English, since the original version uses a completely different alphabet.

My name is also on the cover of all my books. It’s the first thing I check, every time I get a proof.

And still, my name has been misspelled in well over 50% of the reviews for my books. It is often corrected by the author, once someone points to it, but that doesn’t fix the URL, which no one wants to change for fear of losing the links people have already posted in ignorance. So I am forced to share links on Facebook and Twitter that call me “Althea” and “Alathea” and “Athena” and everything else in between.

The worst by far, however, is the audiobook of AlphaOops: H is for Halloween that Scholastic did for their Book Club. Yup: “Ala-theya.” You’d think a professional operation like Scholastic would CHECK FIRST. My little sister demanded a recall. I had a vision of policemen prying CDs from the hands of sobbing six-year-olds and decided I could live with it.

Friends who have known me forever will suddenly stop pronouncing my name correctly for no apparent reason. There’s a line of politeness which I try not to cross too far when correcting them….and after a while I’ll give up on that too.

Yesterday, a bank manager returning my call addressed me by “Olivia.” Hadn’t heard that one in a while. Dude…you’re the BANK MANAGER. Look up my account first, maybe?

“Alethea” is a beautiful name. It means “truth.” It’s been used in many books over the years (and not always because I was the inspiration for it). Writers and artists love it.

They just can’t pronounce it.

Those of you writers in the lagoon today — how do you choose what names to give your characters? Do you perhaps consider how it might be mangled or made fun of in the schoolyard? (Kerri Mermaid mentioned some of these in a post last year, which might help.)

Have you ever found a character in literature that you loved…but realized you were pronouncing completely wrong? How do you feel about pronunciation glossaries in the backs of books?

But most importantly: How badly has YOUR name ever been mangled?