My name is Jeannie...and yes, I write about genies
I often get asked about my name. “Did you pick it because you write about genie?” So, I’m going to answer it once and for all here. The short answer is NO. The long answer is much more complicated.
It started before I was born when pretty much every female in my family since before time, okay, at least until my great, great grandmother on several sides, was given the female name for John. Since I’m an American, my family came from all over the place, so the form ranged from Johanna to Jeanne.
My parents were rather sensible, as were my grandmother’s parents, and gave me the middle name of Jean, like my grandmother. She was Mary Jean and I was Sarah Jean.
Sometime in college, my grandmother started going my Jeannie. The main reason was that Mary was the most popular name of her generation. Also at the time, she worked for a lady cleaning her house. This lady referred to my grandmother as her magic Jeannie. This was also about to be the time of the show “I Dream of Jeannie.”
Then I come along.
I’ve always been fascinated by Middle Eastern fantasy. It wasn’t something you saw too much. Just in Disney’s Aladdin or in a book of fairytales that had some stuff about genies. So I made up my own stories in my head. Grandma Jeannie was always fond of those stories.
Still, no one called me Jeannie.
I would also like to note here, that I don’t generally write about genies. I write about Djinn, mkay? We’ll cover that in another post. Cause there is an important distinction.
So, when did I decide to start going by Jeannie? And why?
In college, just like my grandmother. And because there were too many Sarah’s, just like my grandmother. I was in a class of 7 people and 3 of us were Sarah. It was a journalism class that required us to have a byline, so the teacher pointed at me and asked what byline I would like other than Sarah.
Jeannie. I sounded like my grandmother as I said it.
It was in print. It was final. People started talking about Jeannie and her articles. And before the end of my freshman year, 75% of the campus knew me as only Jeannie. By the time I graduated, I don’t think anyone knew my name was Sarah.
Now that my grandmother has passed away I feel even more of a need to carry on with the Jeannie name. She’d be proud. She’d also be proud of my writing.
While I know that she won’t be physically there for my book launch on Sunday, I know she’ll be there in spirit. Phoenix Rising, my first book, is dedicated to both my Grandma Jeannie and My Grandma Gladys. Both of them died over a year ago. Gladys read it herself, while I read Phoenix Rising to Grandma Jeannie while in hospice. She got to hear the ending.
I live in Athens, Georgia, with my son, my husband, and an ever-revolving list of exchange students, who are a never-ending source of entertainment and writing material.