It’s my husband, Jay. He keeps asking me why I don’t use my proper name when I’m writing. According to him (and the US Passport office, and Social Security), my name is Gabi Coatsworth Wilson. And he could do without the Coatsworth part. That’s because Coatsworth is the name of my first husband.
Here’s the thing. When I divorced my first husband, I kept the name Coatsworth, because my maiden name (was I ever a maiden…?) was Grajnert. It was a German name that had been Polonised over the years from Greinert to Grajnert – same pronunciation, different spelling. No-one in England could pronounce it when I was growing up, and Coatsworth was such a relief – it sounded so British, and people knew how to say it.
Then I moved to the US and married Jay – sorry, William J. Wilson, and the world became more complicated. At first I was thrilled to be Mrs W.J. Wilson. But my kids’ teachers insisted on calling me Mrs. Coatsworth whenever they called me to report some new piece of erratic behavior. I think Jay was quite glad that the Wilson name wasn’t being tarnished as a result.
Then I got a job at British Airways. I’d applied as Gabi Coatsworth because that was the name on my resume, and I had a reputation of sorts. Jay complained:
“You’ve got the job – why don’t you tell them your real name is Wilson?” he said.
I checked the British Airways telephone book for the USA. There were 12 Wilsons in it already. And no Coatsworth. So that decision was easy.
When I started writing, Jay was thrilled. No more resumes, he figured.
“Now you can be Gabi Wilson,” he pointed out.
I had something to point out to him.
“Wilson,” I explained, “is near the end of the alphabet. I don’t want my bestselling novels to be shelved so low that people will have to crouch to find them. It’s so…undignified.”
“On the other hand,” I continued, “Coatsworth comes near the beginning of the alphabet, and will be shelved higher up. Besides,” I said and this clinched it for me – “I’m only competing with Elizabeth Coatsworth. She wrote children’s books and died in 1986, so essentially I’ll have Coatsworth to myself.”
Since then, my husband has continued to remind me, rather sadly, that I am his wife, and should be proud to have his name. I am proud. Honestly. But have you googled Gabi Wilson recently?
Here she is – multi-talented, piano, guitar and a great bluesy voice. And she’s about 14…. She’s fabulous too. But I could never hope to compete with her….Listen to this: http://youtu.be/BsXOuT5oF5w
So, a veritable child prodigy. But I don’t despair. People will have to crouch down to find that book…