Exploring the Pen Name
With Guest Blogger and Paranormal Romance Author Sharon Ashwood
(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.)
The Power Behind a Pen Name
I write contemporary paranormal romances with an urban fantasy flavour. My characters—dark, edgy, sexy, and of course modest creatures—are frequently non-humans trying to fit into a human society. It’s that collision (train wreck?) of magic and the mundane that interests me as a storyteller.
Now, I’m supposed to be writing about choosing a pen name. That’s a good example of magic bumping into the everyday world. In every mythology, names have power. They invoke certain qualities, whether mystically or psychologically or both. As an author, our name is one of the very first messages we send to the world around us. It’s in bright bold letters on the cover of our books. We want to choose that opening fanfare carefully.
“Ashwood” came to me when I was walking through the park near my home. It was early spring, bright with that new rush of energy that comes just as the earth is starting to wake. Birds were everywhere, warming up their lungs for the nesting season. All the flowerbeds were newly dug, the black earth smelled rich and spicy, and the trees were leafing out in brilliant green.
Then and there, I knew I wanted a name that would invoke that feeling of vitality and connectedness, because that is what I want to create for my readers.
For me, a name recalling the natural world provides that. In the Welsh language, the word for wood (gwydd) is very similar to wisdom (gwyddon). That made me start thinking about trees. In the end, I chose Ashwood for my name because I love the imagery connected the ash tree myth.
The Ash is the World Tree, called Yggdrasil in Norse Mythology. In Celtic myth, it is Nuin. The roots of this mythological tree extend deep into the underworld and the topmost branches support the heavens. The trunk is Earth. In short, the World Ash is a unifying force, connecting the reality of the here and now with the wisdom of the past and future. Through its power, the realms of seen and unseen converge. What better symbol for a paranormal writer?
Also, the wood of the ash has always been valued for its strength and straight grain. The shafts of spears and arrows were often made of ash wood because their flight would be true. What author doesn’t want her books to hit the mark?
When I began Ravenous, the first book of the Dark Forgotten series, I hadn’t chosen my pen name yet. It’s interesting that one of its main themes is the interconnectedness of human and immortal worlds, and the bonds that the past has on our present and future. I guess those ideas were already at work in my imagination.
Sharon's novel Ravenous will be out from Signet Eclipse in early 2009. You can check out her writing and info about her at her Web site and blogs here and here.
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."