Of pen-names and pranks
Or, as so many people ask me, why Anat Deracine?
Anat Deracine is a pen-name. It’s not even my first pen-name. I’ve been writing under various names all my life, and when I first realized you could have different email accounts under different names, I was in heaven. Not because I wanted to be someone else, or was uncomfortable with my real identity, but because I could prank my friends. Some of them even received little gifts in the mail, with a stamp from Etobicoke, Ontario, and I was giddy with delight watching them try to figure out which of us it could be.
I was found out, eventually. My friend Peter pointed out that there was only one of us in the group (besides himself) who used the word “laconic” casually in an email. There may also have been some personally identifying punctuation.
Fast-forward several years and I had a book on its way to publication. My agent cautioned me of the difficulty of using a pen-name, but I was adamant. She told me I’d have to really live my pen-name, at least on the internet. I didn’t see how that was true, and besides, I was getting a book published. I was so overwhelmed emotionally, I wouldn’t have heard a banshee scream.
Boy, are the banshees out now. When you’ve had to stand up in front of a camera and introduce yourself under a pen-name, and had to claim your identity on various social media profiles, and been reviewed and interviewed under the pen-name, been paid for consulting and story-editing under that pen-name, and even met people who only know you by your pen-name, it starts to become just as real as any name on a passport might be.
Déraciné, from the French, is to be uprooted from one’s native land, deracinated, but it’s not a bad thing. It allows me to be from anywhere I choose, and to find home and family all around the world. I chose the name because I wanted to be the writer who can really inhabit their characters, live them out fully and honestly, and how better to do that than acknowledging that to do so, I must first uproot myself from my own life and identity?
So I’m going to give this thing a go. To really live out this identity, the best I can. I’ll be writing about my struggles with plot, character and publishing, and will share what I’m learning about being a better writer and storyteller.
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