Trying to think of a name for the main character of a story I'm writing has been the source of much amusement this week.
To get a story onto paper quickly as part of NaNoWriMo 2008, I decided to write a tongue in cheek coming of age story which is based on my childhood. I used my own name to begin with but this week decided to change it. There is more than a little irony in this. With a name like Suzuki and being brought up in the UK where it is far from the norm, I’ve heard most of the motorcycle jokes that could be imagined and have sincerely laughed at the same jokes thousands of times (I’m easily pleased). Funnily enough though, this wouldn’t be a reason for me to change my name in real life, I’ve always liked it and it made me feel ‘international’ when I was a kid.
If there was ever a reason to change my name it would be because of the protests my Grandmother made before I was born. Oh, and possibly a drunken priest’s involvement in providing the most bizarre middle name ever thought of, but that’s another story altogether. My father had decided, before I was born and probably before I was even conceived, that his first born would be a son named Ryoma after his hero, Ryoma Sakamoto.
Sakamoto was a merchant class samurai turned rebel (from what I understand) who went on to become a key player in the changes that led to the opening of Japan in the 19th century. Apparently, to many, he is a hero and visionary. So why did my Grandmother object? Well, Ryoma was not just famous for his deeds but also for the way he died; he was assassinated at the age of 33. My Nan predicted that the same fate would befall me when I reached that age. Obviously this was not taken seriously by anyone. Well almost anyone, because when I approached my 33rd birthday it’s funny how against all reason, doubt can creep in. It’s a bizarre thing to know something is irrational but to still worry that a couple of ninjas would come somersaulting through your office window at any given moment to end your life in an attempt to prevent me leading a revolution of some kind. And yet, I watched the windows for months expecting just such a thing. Sometimes they would be soldiers with machine guns, sometimes barbarians with huge broadswords, but mostly just your common or garden ninjas.
Well I reached 34 without a single incident and found myself breathing a sigh of relief and a little sad at the same time. It would have been fun to dodge blades and bullets for one day in the office, perhaps in the middle of some sort of boring meeting during which I would desperately try not to fall asleep through.
After telling you all of that, I still don’t know what to name my character in my book. I'm sure it will come to me soon.
Causes Ryoma Collia-Suzuki Supports
World Wildlife Fund
British Heart Foundation