I’ve been thinking about this for a while, especially since SORB is at the front of my mind.
My name is Ileandra Young.
It’s a name I’ve used for my online presence for very many years and it’s the name I’ll be publishing under. It isn’t the name on my birth certificate, but it’s a name that’s very much became mine in the years I’ve used it.
I remember meeting some buddies that were previously only online buddies before that point. I was introduced as ‘Ileandra’ because that was my forum handle and, to this day, those lovely people still call me ‘Illy.’
I love it.
So so much.
However… it’s also the name of the female protagonist in my first novel.
I didn’t plan to do that. As I said; I like the name, so it seemed only natural (when I was 14) to use the same name for the character I loved so much. It stuck.
I have an online RPG character with the same name.
I also wrote the back story for that character a few years ago; the basis of a multi book, epic fantasy series (which I’m longing to get back to). Of course, she had the same name.
I know I can’t use the same name everywhere so the character in that epic fantasy has become D’nai T’keyah (which, though unusual to the ear, has a full explanation within the text). But even that was a hard decision to make.
Harder still is the decision I’m facing now; do I change the character’s name so it doesn’t match mine? Or, worse than that, do I change my name? Maybe publish under The Shared Brain’s name?
I have no idea how to make this decision, but these are some of the things I’m considering. This is in no way an exhaustive list.
Leaving Things As They Are:
- I don’t have to acclimatise myself with a new name that can be disorienting and annoying
- I already have an online presence as ‘Ileandra Young’ which can feed into the book
- It gives the story a tiny edge of ‘is this real?’ which could work in it’s favour
- It’s conceited (or at least it feels that way)
- It could cause confusion with readers who don’t understand exactly what they’re reading
mightwould look weird on the back cover blurb
Changing Things Up:
- Completely gets rid of potential confusion
- I could use the name elsewhere (though I probably wouldn’t as I’d have the same problem!)
- The name remains my own rather than something that I have to share with a character
- I have to find new a new damn name!
This is very difficult. I know there must be some authors out there who have given characters the same names as themselves. Certainly minor characters. However my Google-Fu has failed me and I can think of only one author who has named their protagonist after themselves and that’s Darren Shan. Granted, his actual name is Darren O’Shaughnessy, but he writes under Darren Shan and that’s the name of his character. Beyond that… I got nothing.
I’m really struggling here.
I take great pride in being true to myself and what I want. For doing things slightly differently. But is this too much?
The fact that I can find only one author that has done the same thing must mean something, but deep inside I honestly feel that to change the name is to cheat myself. I’ve spent years thinking about this character and seeing her name in a book I can hold. It would be a mega blow to find, after all this time, that the name won’t work after.
A few months back, I posted a comment on an excellent blog post over at Kate’s place. If you’re unfamiliar with her blog, really do check it out; she’s a brilliant writer and with a great voice. But this post struck me for several reasons:
- This ‘Sheba’ woman is part of what’s killing indie authors (IMO)
- Pen names get a bad rap for all sorts of reasons
- It is often assumed that writers who write across genres will separate them with different names
- My pen name is nothing like that
The Brain came very close to changing her name to mine after our 18th birthday. Looking at passports, credit cards, letters and business cards would have felt wonderful with that name on the front.
I’ll explain why.
In the early days, when Silk Over Razor Blades was still called To Be A Teenage Vampire, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t unhappy but I was 15, I didn’t have a boyfriend, I was tubby, I hated my hair and my friends kept me around because I made them look good. I didn’t go on dates, or smoke, or drink, or sleep around so I had no exciting stories to tell at parties (unless you counted the ones I made up) and a couple of years after that, my parents split. So I must have felt the tension in the house.
But… this character… this Ileandra Young in my stories had all sorts of cool things that I wanted. She had lots of friends, a doting boyfriend, cool clothes…. But more than that she had the qualities in character that I wished I had. She was funny. Kind. Loyal. Well loved. Smart. Opinionated without being a bitch. So, so many things.
Then the name Ileandra Young became a symbol of all the things I wanted. I thought… if I could write about it, I could take what I wanted from her experiences and bring them into my own life.
To some degree I have. I’m certainly far happier than I was back then. A lot of that is the result of growing up and understanding the difference between what’s important and what’s not. What I want and what I need.
The point is… with all that history behind it, the name Ileandra Young is so much more than a pen name and a hell of a lot more than the name of a character. And attaching it to this book (and future ones) is like the end of the game. The ribbon wrapped around the cake in the store window. The finishing touch.
It is (and would be) the proof that I finally achieved everything that I wanted to.
That’s my heart on the floor, pinned out for you to see. o.O Didn’t mean to do that; funny how things just get away from you.
Okay… let’s reel it back a bit.
Have you guys come across any protagonists named for their authors? There must be more than Darren out there, I refuse to believe otherwise. But I’m stuck. Fortunately,
together we are strong and combining your brain power with mine should help.
Come on… make me feel better here and tell me what you think? Would you ever consider using your name for a character in a book? Have you seen someone else do it? Would it confuse you to read a book written (for all intents and purposes) by the protagonist? Does it add to the tale or just disrupt the story for you?
Tell me, tell me, tell me!