Friday, January 05, 2007

Charissa: What's In A Name?

My dad just sent me the coolest thing. (Thanks, Dad!) I always knew Wikipedia was awesome, but now they've outdone themselves. There is actually an entry on my namesake.

When people ask me where my name comes from, I tell a short story. "My parents used to be in to reading books about knights and sorcerers, and when my mom was pregnant she was reading a trilogy of books called the Deryni Chronicles. Charissa was actually a character in the first of the three books, Deryni Rising. She was an evil sorceress who assasinated the King and tried to take the throne, and she was killed in the first book." This is usually followed by, "Are you serious? Your parents named you after an evil sorceress?" To which I reply, "Yes, they did. But she was hot. That's something."

This conversation has repeated itself numerous times over the years. It's completely true and apparently very shocking to strangers. I love my name as much as I love the story about my name. It's just so me. Oh! So what did my dad send me? He sent a Wikipedia page all about Charissa of Furst, the character with my name.

Feel free to click through and read about her... I think it's fascinating. Unlike some people, I wasn't named after a favorite aunt or distant cousin. In fact, my mom will clarify that I wasn't actually named after Charissa in Deryni Rising, either - she just liked the way it looked and sounded. Either way, I feel an attraction to her... she has my name as much as I have hers. There aren't many of us out there, and when I was growing up there were many, many less.

Unfortunate fact: The author meant for Charissa to be pronounced "Kar-ISS-a" What a shame.

There's a paragraph in the book that describes how Charissa looks physically and reinforces her title as "The Shadowed One." I've always liked how the author describes her because she was petite and mystical. I just went looking for my copy so that I could quote it, but, alas, it must be in storage. Damn. Oh, and yes... that's Charissa on the cover of the book image above. That's probably about five seconds before she got herself killed. Fabulous.


Blogger Jamaila said...

The author of that series, Katherine Kurtz, was my mom's best friend in college. I see her every so often when she's over here for conventions and things -- she lives in this fabulous restored castle in Ireland, it's awesome. Although she told me last time I saw her that now that their son is grown up they are thinking of moving back to the states.

January 06, 2007 1:15 AM  
Blogger cherylann said...

that's a pretty kickass story of how you got your name. when i asked my parents they just shrugged and replied "we just liked it"... sheesh... my parents were boring!

January 06, 2007 3:25 AM  
Anonymous Mom said...

Oh, Charissa,

I can't imagine why your friends always thought it was odd how we gave you your name! It had nothing to do with the fact that you would smile and say, oh yes my mother named me after an evil sorcerous who died as soon as she tried to kill the young prince.

It is a beautiful name. It means Charity. If I had the chance, I would name you that again. I love the name. I love the author, I understand she has a new book out. I think I will start over with her books and then read the new one.
Jamaila, thank Katherine Kurtz for me for putting Charissa's name on her web site along with the other children who parents used her book as a source.

Be careful on your trip Rissa, we love you.



January 06, 2007 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think every now and then, you should sign your "full" name, "Charissa Aymarine Festilliana Furstána-Festila-mac-Tadhg".

How cool would THAT be ;)

Love, Dad

January 06, 2007 9:37 AM  
Blogger Charissa said...

Jamaila: That is the coolest thing I have ever heard. I am shocked and almost jealous that you know her... in my head she's always been like a distant aunt to me because of my name, which sounds crazy but is still the truth. There's something to be said for six degrees of separation, I guess.

CA: Thanks - my mom got on me again this morning because she swears she didn't try to name me after an evil person... she just liked the name is all. :)

Mom & Dad: I do love my name. And I am very thankful that you were open-minded enough to give it to me. It's still a fun story to tell, though. There aren't too many "original" Charissas out there I think because people were hesitant about naming their kid after evil. (Not MY parents! Haha.) Most Charissas now probably don't know where it came from because the name finally made it into baby books in the last ten years or so. And Dad, I am almost tempted to sign checks that way now... you know, just to see if banks even look.

January 06, 2007 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Mom said...

Well, Charissa
It's a good thing you weren't a boy, we were gonna name you Adolf.



January 06, 2007 11:03 AM  
Blogger Summer said...

I was named after a comic strip character... Steve Canyon's wife. Of course, nobody our age knows who that is.

January 06, 2007 9:21 PM  
Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

Sometimes I wish I'd been named Gwydion.

January 06, 2007 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey - sorry this is really random - just happened across your page: did you know that there is a character called Charissa in 'The Faerie Queene' by Spenser (an English writer) which was written in 1596? In this epic poem Charissa symbolises the virtue of love...

January 09, 2007 2:34 PM  

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