We have a very special guest blogger today, Wendy Nelson Tokunaga! Her debut book, Midori by Moonlight, just came out and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’ve read it. It rocks. It’s about a young Japanese woman lost in translation in San Francisco as she finds herself and her American dream. Not only is Wendy an awesome author, but she is also such a sweetheart that she’s giving away a signed copy of her book Midori by Moonlight today! All you have to do to be entered to win is post a comment today. So, without further ado… here’s Wendy…
It happened again. I just got an agreement letter from my publisher that allows me to extend the deadline for turning in my second book from January1, 2008, to March 1, 2008 (Yay! Every bit of extra time helps!) and my name is spelled incorrectly in three places, including where I have to write my signature: Wendy Nelson Tokunga. Tokunga, with a crucial missing "a," and which sounds to me like the name of a small African nation, instead ofTOKUNAGA.
But for me changing my name seemed glamorous, like show business, when a Norma Jean Mortenson could turn into a Marilyn Monroe. I also like the trick it plays on people to see a blonde, American Caucasian woman with a Japanese name. Since my marriage I have always gone by Wendy Tokunaga (and surprised many a job interviewer who expected to meet a Japanese-American). But my agent advised me to use Wendy Nelson Tokunaga for my debut novel, MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT, so there wouldn't be any confusion about my ethnicity, especially since the book is about a Japanese woman who escapes the confines of Japan and comes to San Francisco to pursue her American dream. Still, people get confused anyway.
My husband was correct, though. Having a name that is hard to pronounce and doesn't go with your face is a double whammy. It always presents a problem with the checkers at Safeway who are trained to address their customers by name without fail via their "Club Card" in a policy of forced "neighborliness."
"Don't worry about it," I say, as someone who doesn't like to spend any more time than she has to at the grocery store.
"Sorry! But you sure don't look Samoan!"