Several people have said they love my author's name - Dakota Douglas. That got me thinking about names.
For starters Dakota Douglas isn’t my real name; it’s my pen name. I chose it because I love the Black Hills of South Dakota. Also the word Dakota in the Lakota Sioux language (which I am learning) means friends/allies. Douglas is my grandmother’s maiden name. When expecting me, my mother was convinced I was going to be a boy. So convinced that she bought baby clothes mostly blue (a traditional baby boy's colour). When I came along, my parents weren't going to fork out for pink or yellow (traditional baby girl colours), so I got to wear blue. I can't remember, but I imagine many a person cooed over my pram and tickled my chin, saying "Oooh, what a lovely boy". That's probably why I grew up to be a Tom Boy.
My given name is Linda. It means pretty in Spanish, but that was no consolation, There were five Lindas in my first year at high school, so I didn’t feel very unique. I tried to call myself Belinda to be different. It sounded exotic; like a Russian spy, famous ballerina or mysterious baroness. You see how my imagination worked even in those days. Sadly, no-one bought it and they still called me Linda.
It turns out that Linda was second to Mary as the most popular name given to baby girls in the year I was born (a ton of chocolate wouldn’t prise the date from me, though you’ll be able to hazard a guess from the following info). Crooner Jack Lawrence had a hit in 1946 with "Linda" and the name became all the rage. For six straight years, from 1947-1952 it was the number one female name in America. And its popularity obviously spread across The Pond.
Other top favourite baby girl names in the UK in the secret year of my birth were Deborah, Patricia and Susan. The top five boys names were Robert, James, Michael, John and David. All plain, standard English names.
Since joining social media and connecting with so many people, I’m amazed at the variety of unusual names people have, particularly in America. Eloisa, Saffina, Ciara, Seyi, Tara, Wanda, Netta, Kieran, Nadia, Rena, Sade, Kayla, Winslow, Arken, Jananifer, Taren, Autumn, Merry, Misty, Rhiannon, Zanesh, Chantilly, Lilach … to name a few. What I would have given for one of those growing up. All so exotic sounding and conjuring up visions of wonderful characters.
In England there’s been a tradition of giving your baby a name influenced by celebrities, popular Royals and sports stars of the time. According to the Office for National Statistics, the most popular names in England and Wales in 2011 were Harry and Amelia, replacing Oliver and Olivia the year before. Whereas Harry came 709th in the pecking order of names given to babies in the US in 2011 and Amelia was number 30.
More than 7,500 baby boys were named Harry last year in England and Wales. The reason is thought to be down to the continued popularity of JK Rowling's boy wizard, a singer in UK boy band One Direction and the appeal of Prince Harry’s cheeky grin. But the experts are scratching their heads to think of recently famous Amelias that would propel Amelia to the top.
Now it seems that times are changing. The 2011 top 20 list contains lots of surprises. The girls’ list includes Lily, Ava, Isabella, Evie, Mia, Poppy, Isla, Ella, Isabella, Freya and Daisy. And the boys’ list features Alfie, Jacob, Ethan, Riley, Noah, Oscar, Mohammed, Max and Dylan.
The five new entries for boys in the UK’s top 100 are Tommy, Blake, Frankie, Elijah and Jackson. For girls, Bella (down to Twilight, I’m guessing), Willow, Elsie, Kayla, Francesca and Lydia are all new to the top 100.
As an author, I can indulge my love of great names, by giving my characters interesting monikers.
Names play an important part in my debut novel; a fun fantasy for children called ANTics. All the characters have names that described their personality and their names all end in ANT. The story revolves around three young ants - ExuberANT (Zube for short), BrilliANT (nicknamed Brill) and HesitANT.
Zube is high spirited, impulsive, with a cheeky grin and quick wit. Brill is clever and often has to haul Zube out one scrape or another. HesitANT is a victim of bullies, timid and shy. Their archenemy is a smelly, evil spider called RepugnANT (nicknamed Puggy). The trio go from one heart-pounding adventure to the other as they flee Puggy’s clutches. Along the way they encounter a variety of characters – a beautiful butterfly called ElegANT, a friendly worm called PleasANT and a bully called TyrANT.
If you're interested, you can find out more about ANTics on my ANTics page.
* For you Lindas out there, this is a site with info about the origins of the
name and other cool stuff : http://tinyurl.com/ap9q2y4
Everyone else can find out info about their name from the A to Z list on the
Thanks for reading and don't forget to keep reaching for the stars.