Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Exploring the Pen Name

Or...using a moniker for safety

(During the month of June, here at Today the Dragon Wins we explore the use of pseudonyms. Don't forget to participate in the discussion in the comment field to enter the contest for a copy of the eBook versions of Choices Meant for Gods and Apparitions. Details were posted June 1.)

Back in high school or junior high, I read a short story about a teacher (who was really a hermit-like wizard) who lived on the outskirts of a small village. A traveler came to the village, asked a few too many questions about a wizard, and went to confront the teacher. When the teacher refused to come out of her cave-like home, the traveler warned her, "I can use your real name to control you—I know your real name." Shock and horror!

Turns out the joke was on the traveler. Using a person's true name not only forces the confrontation, it forces the person into their true form. In this case, the hermit-like wizard pretending to be a teacher popped out of her cave and assume the form of a dragon, and promptly ate the vexing traveler.

I wish I could remember the name of the story and author (and anyone who recognizes it is more than welcome to leave a comment here!) but that was at least 20 to 25 years ago. I have since read variations on that "true name" theme. I've seen the idea morphed to include mind control, slavery and instant "attraction" (if you know what I mean there).

Obviously, the concept intrigued me as a writer of fantasy fiction. I even have Hrazon and Chariss allude to it in my Choices fantasy trilogy. Chariss mentions to The Master Rothahn that she doesn't want to say his true name aloud for fear of the wind carrying it to an enemy. Now, in my mythos, the person who wishes to exert influence over you must use your true name in a spell. It's not as easy as just "speak friend and enter."

This relates to pen names rather loosely, I know, but entertained me, nonetheless. For some authors, writing under a pseudonym is synonymous with taking on an alter-ego or hiding the true name and true form from the world. (For some authors, taking on a pen name is a marketing necessity.) For those hiding in cave-like dwellings on the outskirts of small villages, I wish you much success in avoiding nosy travelers. But let me know if I can send you a nice jar of bar-b-que sauce for the few that find you.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can understand why some authors feel compelled to use a pseudomyn rather than their real name when they write--especially writers who create erotica or who use languages or situations that could prove to be embarassing to the local P.T.A.

When I was secretary of our local Catholic church, most parishioners knew I was a writer in what they thought of as my 'spare time'. They had no idea I considered that full-time, 40+ hour week as a secretary as my 'part-time' job and the writing as my occupation.

No one really questioned what I wrote. Most had the good sense to know what I write does not define me as a person. The intelligent ones could separate the fact from the fiction.

Not so with one elderly lady who had a reputation for being contentious. She came into the office one morning and upon seeing me busily typing asked if I was writing one of my 'nasty' books.

To this day I don't know what possessed me to turn and--with a sweet smile on my face--reply: "Why, yes I am. Could you tell me what's another word for heaving bosoms?"

The old woman sputtered. Her face turned red then she began to laugh.

We've been friends ever since.

Each of us has to do what we have to do. For me, hiding behind a fake name would take the joy out of it.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Sandy Lender said...

I wondered about this comment from "anonymous" until I saw your post in the group. Sorry Blogger gave you fits! I have to giggle, though. Sometimes it blocks me, too. And this would be MY BLOG. Sigh.

But thank you for your insight! I think I'd hide behind a moniker if I was writing extreme-heat least until everyone I taught in Sunday School swore to NEVER read it. Even then...hmmm...


So for now I'll just stick to the stuff I'm comfy writing. Fantasy and violence. Bwuahahahahaha. Bring me a sword!

Sandy L.
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

11:24 AM  

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