You may have noticed, I have an unusual name. I’ve heard over the years of a few other people named Shala roving around America. One lives in New Jersey, and has (or had) a furniture store named Shala II in Dallas. I know she lives in New Jersey and owns the store because when I was in high school, I was so excited about seeing a store with my name on it that I stopped in one day and asked who it was named for.
Just this past summer, I came across a yoga studio in San Francisco called Monkey Yoga Shala. When the Chicago winter gets me down, I like to imagine a much cooler and more physically fit version of myself running that studio and living a balmy life in San Francisco.
But though I’ve run into the odd retail business here and there with my name (and had my name used as nonsense syllables in countless pop songs), in all my years of reading and/or being read to, I have never, ever — not even once — come across a character named Shala.
Until this week. When it happened not once, but twice. Within a few pages of each other.
I’m reading Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer series right now, and in The Broken Eye (Lightbringer #3) two characters named Shala appear.
The first appears in a dream/backstory segment and is fondly remembered by the main character as a middle-aged room slave with so little sex appeal that the main character speculates that his mother has given him the slave to ensure that he remains celibate. Awesome.
“There was a knock at his door, and his mother came in. Gavin had barely had time to get home, grab a quick meal, and bathe. His room slave Shala – a woman his mother’s age, whom his mother had appointed in place of the original Gavin’s room slave, apparently trying to keep her second son celibate for the rest of his days …”From The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks.
Just brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?
The second Shala appears a few pages later and is killed off within eleven words. But what a cameo! That Shala has been driven insane by the wanton use of magic and appears for her death scene completely strung out on poppy.
“Shala Smith. A red. Drunk and high on poppy. Couldn’t confess.From The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks.
Seriously, though, “Smith”?
Weeks shows a nearly — no, as far as I know — completely unprecedented amount of creativity in using the name “Shala,” and then he pairs it with “Smith”? Disappointing. Why not use something more creative. Like, I don’t know… Howell. An incoherent drunken mage named Howell. Yeah. That’s perfect.
It’s good to be me. Even if it’s not so good to be named after me in a Brent Weeks novel.
Michael doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. He is constantly running across his name in books and is completely desensitized to thrill of seeing his name in print.
Me? I’m a Brent Weeks fan for life.