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."
Tags: pseudonym, pen name, dragon, wizard, teacher, Choices trilogy, fantasy trilogy, Chariss