Call Me Candy

I’ve written Monster Meditations on the significance I give to naming characters in fiction, but lately I’ve been confronted by my own name. Let me back up a bit. My given name is Candida. Pronounced with a subtle accent on the first syllable and the ‘I’ in did sounding like ‘did’—as in “that’s what they did” and not deed.

When I was growing up it drove me crazy when people pronounced it in the Spanish fashion with a long E sound (Candeeda) and a bit of an accent on that syllable. Now that I have many Latin American friends and have enjoyed travels in Spain, I’m fine with the Spanish version. At least there it’s a normal—if not common—name.

My parents named me after the George Bernard Shaw heroine with a slight detour into mystery fiction via the Patricia Wentworth my mother was reading when she was pregnant with me. The protagonist’s name was Candida and that reminded mom of seeing Marlon Brando in the Shaw play as the romantic, young poet in love with the slightly older, married woman named Candida.

The name has been a challenge for most of my life.

Although I enjoy the play and it looks great when I sign it, Candida is not without inherent problems beyond the awkward pronunciation issues. First, my folks found it hard to use such a big name for a small child. I was called Candy for as long as I can remember. Then, since the play is not one of Shaw’s most familiar works, my name is rarely recognized as a tribute to Shaw. The exception to the rule is the periodic smile from an out-of-work actor or playwright working at a New York theater ticket booth.

Scientists and doctors get caught up in the “candida” of yeast infection fame. This is NOT great on a blind date with a chemist. I can assure you of that. My parents also insisted that they had zero knowledge of this connection to my name.

Lately people have started calling me Candice (or Candace). This is particularly annoying as it is NOT my name. Most of these misnomer incidents started with my late mother’s friends—it’s hard enough reading letters of condolence, having the wrong name on them makes me itch. Would Vera enjoy being called Mira? I don’t think so.

For most of my life I shut the name problems down with a simple, “Call me Candy.” Am I too old for that now? Nah… call me Candy!

The Patricia Wentworth that started it all. I found a copy in the book room of a mystery writers conference & gave it to her on Mother's Day that year.

The Patricia Wentworth that started it all. I found a copy in the book room of a mystery writers conference & gave it to her on Mother’s Day that year.



  1. Nothing is more irksome than when people call us by names that aren’t even ours. My name issue is a bit different. I am only Jeri Lynn to my closest family members, but every time I’ve been hired for a job if my name is printed next to my middle name people always want to call me by that. Then I have to spend the next few months insisting, “Just call me Jeri.”

  2. Ugh, ugh, ugh!!!! My mother was reading a book in which the heroine was ‘Andrea’ so that’s what she lumbered me with.

    Now Andrea isn’t bad in Hungarian – on-drey-o [like the ‘o’ in ‘off’]. It’s soft, rounded, flowing. Even in Italian it’s not bad, if you ignore the fact that -on-drey-ah- is a male name. But in English? Ann-dree-yah….
    I have always hated my name and would seriously consider changing it by Deed Poll if it did not involve spending the rest of my life buried in paperwork.
    ‘Just call me Meeks.’

    • Candy Korman

      When I was growing up I had a friend who kept changing her name. I don’t know if she kept doing it as an adult—or if she ever went as far as a legal change when she grew up—but her name was Beth Anne and she was Penny, Penelope, Buffy and then Buff at different points in elementary school through high school.

      Maybe in one of your identity bending futuristic stories, you could create a society where people routinely change their names?

      I’ll call you Meeks or A.C. when I recommend your books.