Stories for a rijny day

March 7, 2015 at 11:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

    Tigers die and leave their skins; people die and leave their names.
    ~Japanese Proverb

My name confuses people.


I love the way it looks, with the two tittles hovering perfectly symmetrical over the bottom strokes, as though they could, if they wished, just reach over and hold hands.

See, a tittle. Even the dots above an i and a j have a name.

The first time I held a book and saw Rijn Collins in the index of stories, I remember placing my hand over my chest. I didn’t speak. I thought that if I could feel my heart hammering, could feel that thump against my palm, it was proof that I was standing at the book launch with my elated friends and straight whiskey and highest heels and not, as I suspected, still asleep and dreaming.

The day I see my name down an actual spine will be pure gold.


So the problem’s not how my name looks, it’s how the hell to pronounce it. This is especially important given that I’ve been working with ABC producers to adapt my stories for radio. Go on, have a go at pronouncing it, don’t be shy: we’re the only ones here.

Lean towards your screen and try it.

While my last name is Irish, my first is Dutch, so don’t feel bad if you’re frowning. It’s pronounced ‘rain’, and is the Dutch word for the Rhine River. There.


The night I met my boyfriend, he added me on Facebook to send me an invitation to a gig the next night. And I felt a little thrill when I saw his surname: Proudfoot. I couldn‘t have written it better myself.

The students I teach come from multicultural backgrounds, and often have an English nickname. In the ten years I‘ve been heading a language class I‘ve taught Biscuit, First, Melon, On, Off, Lotus, Golf, Zero, and Bong, amongst others.

When I asked the latter if he knew what a bong was, he gave a Beavis and Butthead laugh that told me, oh yeah, he knew.

Naming characters is a challenge. If you’re planning on throwing them into a short story, you’ll probably have your own process for this, if you name them at all, that is. But a novel…well, if you’re going to commit 70,000 words to someone, you better get it right.

My novel has just gone through a complete shakeup, including rewriting the first 30,000 words. I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to eat three plums counter-clockwise, set a snakeskin on fire, and do the Nutbush in my bathroom. Just in case I jinxed myself, you see (not that I’m superstitious…no, not at all).

So I’m in the process of renaming some of the characters. It’s not helping that it’s set in Iceland, where choices must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee (itself going by the rather fabulous moniker Mannanafnanefnd). And here I thought naming my short stories was the tough part.

poison berries

I secretly love that, though. Scrolling through my titles, I can see I‘ve had great fun plucking words from the air and stringing them on my story necklace. If you haven‘t read these, pour a glass of pinot and feel free to take a peek.

And then they all ate poison berries, and died
The old man with birds for hands
Elvis would so
I like your deer‘s moustache, and other Lithuanian tales
Early dog violet
Shelter for the shipwrecked
True, False and Floating

And the title of my novel?

Well, I’ll let you know…just as soon as I do.


  1. Leith said,

    I’m new to Pinot but your stories are as ageless as camp fire mulled wine.

    • inkymouth said,

      Camp fire mulled wine….in a tin mug, held over crackling flames. Yes, please!

  2. Dorie Mol said,

    Dear Rijn, I LOVE your stories and your particular writing style! Keep doing it, Gall!

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