Friday, April 06, 2007

John M. Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #159: Your Pen Name

Weekend Assignment #159: You've decided to become a writer under a pen name. What pen name do you choose? Because, after all, writers use pen names all the time -- sometimes to maintain anonymity, sometimes to start a new career when their writing career under their real name has crashed and burned, and sometimes just because they want a different name than the one they were born with. You can assume any of the reasons for taking up a pen name. (No fair using a name that's taken: Your pen name can't be "Steve King" or "Jonathan Grisham" or some such.)

Extra Credit: Using this Anagram Maker, share an amusing anagram of your name.

Dear John,

I hope this finds you hale and hearty as you start off on your book tour. Interesting notion, this business of pen names. I can't help but wonder if it isn't your innate shyness raising its wee white flag in a feeble attempt to say “Stop the world, I want to get off!” (Don't we all?)

Anyway, if I ever chose to publish under a pen name, the first that comes to mind is “Derek Domino”. Yes, that is awfully close to the name of a tragically conceived band led by Eric Clapton in the seventies; why do you ask?

Well, the reason behind that choice lies with Clapton's own view on the band as a make believe ruse:

We were a make believe band. We were all hiding inside it. Derek and the Dominoes--the whole thing....assumed. So it couldn't last. I had to come out and admit that I was being me. I mean, being Derek was a cover for the fact that I was trying to steal someone else's wife. That was one of the reasons for doing it, so that I could write the song, and even use another name for Pattie. So Derek and Layla - it wasn't real at all.”(Decurtis, Anthony (May 1998). Rocking My Life Away, Duke University Press, ISBN 0-8223-2184-X , as cited in the Wikipedia article on “Derek and the Dominoes”)

So an assumed name from the name of a band that was assumed. How fittingly ironic is that?

Of course I am neither a musician nor married to one. Nor am I addicted to heroin and cocaine, for that matter. What does that have to do with pen names, anyway?

If I was writing children's books, I think I'd use the nom de plume “Poppy Golightly”; Mysteries by Eric C. Q. Finder. Romances by Leslie Lovelace. Science Fiction by Robert Ulysses Sirius. You get the idea.

Give my best to your lovely wife and the demon spawn. Be sure to bring them back something nice from California in addition to the new strain of Novovirus. Best anagrams for my name that tickled my fancy were “Slim Whore” and “Miser Howl”...


No comments: