My newest non-fictional effort! Before I get started just wanted to thank WordPress for making me Freshly Pressed on Thursday! And to thank all of you who took time to read, and comment on, my post ‘So Am I an Author Yet?’ Incredible reactions from everyone, will try my best to live up to expectations!
The Pen Name : A Shield to accompany the Literary Sword?
We’ve all heard countless times how the pen is mightier than the sword.
But in this day and age, where someone’s dirty, and not so dirty, laundry can be hung out to dry on the internet in a matter of minutes, do authors now need a shield to accompany their metaphorical sword?
It’s a question close to my heart, because obviously I’m intent on writing under a pen name of sorts.
‘C-C Lester’ isn’t a pseudonym. However, it’s also not what my closest friends call me … In fact, the only people to have ever called me ‘C-C’ were the members of my university cricket team, because that was how my name appeared on the scorecard!
However, C-C is the name which I have chosen to write under. Something my lovely agent Lucy Dundas queried early on in our partnership.
Because thanks to J.K. Rowling, it seems everyone wants to have two initials! And the publishing world are getting rather sick of it!
Most avid readers and authors will know exactly why ‘Jo’ became ‘J.K’. Bloomsbury feared that male readers would be put off by a female author, and so asked her to use her two initials. However, she only had one, and so added the initial from her favourite grandmother’s name, Kathleen, to become the legendary ‘J.K.’
My reasons for become C-C are a little more complicated.
For a start, they are both actually my initials. My parents had a bit of a thing for long names, and so I was born Charlotte-Cristina Lester, a fact very few of my friends even know, because all my life I have been called Charly.
C-C Lester was the tag on my school uniform. The adult I always felt that ‘childhood me’ might grow into. My parents only ever called me Charly, but told me I had an extra-long double-barreled ‘real name’, in case when I was older I wanted to use a ‘girl’s name’!
However, I did always find something cool in the fact I had a hyphen where most people simply had a space. To me it sounded rather epic and mysterious, and reminiscent of C.S. Lewis, one of my favourite childhood authors. Even though even he wasn’t lucky enough to have that hyphen!
As I discussed briefly in my last post, I was a child who grew up writing, and longing to share my stories with the world. And so in my head, ‘C-C Lester’ was the future writer me. Whose clothes I was merely growing into!
However, when Lucy came to ask me why exactly I was writing under ‘C-C’, my main, and probably most convincing reason, was privacy. In the cyber-world we live in today, it takes a matter of seconds to enter someone’s name into Google, and dredge up all kinds of information about them. Thanks to the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Woman Award, which I received a few years ago, a LOT of my personal information was put into the public domain without my say-so, including my then address, and the very detailed description of how my parents died.
These weren’t necessarily things which I wanted people reading my books to know about me, or to associate with my work.
One of my favourite high school teachers once gave an assembly about women juggling ‘lots of hats’. The lover, the friend, the artist, the career woman, the mother etc etc…
And so, when I finished my first novel ‘Flicker’, I made a decision. I wanted to wear a different hat when I was an author. I wanted author ‘me’ to be C-C, and the rest of me to be scooped up under the name ‘Charly’.
I wanted to protect Clark Kent’s truths, behind Superman’s badge.
Except the problem was that no one had ever heard of my Superman!
It’s all well and good protecting your real identity, if your pen name has great exposure. But one of the things I gradually came to realise, was that my ‘Clark Kent’ side – the part of me behind the writer’s mask, was actually pretty special too! And perhaps those other aspects of my personality – my love of travel and adventure, my tenacity and positivity in the face of a really rather awful tragedy – were things which might inspire others in the same way I hoped that my fiction might too.
In a later post, I hope to write about my influences for each of the books, and the aspects of my own life which affected those stories. And so, perhaps it is best that my readers see me as both Charly AND C-C Lester.
Check out my YouTube Channel and let me know what you think! (And those of you who posted comments yesterday assuming I was a man, hopefully the video will clear that one up!)
So, now you all know my name. You know the Clark Kent behind my Superman … or should I say, Superwoman?!
And yet, I will still continue to write behind the name of my favourite superhero. Because I am really excited about my journey to becoming C-C Lester. To becoming the adult, who that little girl in the baggy school uniform could only dream of being. I’m excited about the opportunity to wear the hat of writer, or author, or whatever you want to classify it as. And to explore all the experience which that hat provides me with!
What started out as a shield, is no longer necessary as one. Instead, for me at least, it has become both a passport, and a destination.
In a number of the comments to my ‘So am I an Author yet?’ post, people discussed the journey of the writer – from conception to publication. Well ‘C-C Lester’ is both a passport, allowing me on my personal journey – the side of me housing my immense passion and determination to write – and also the final destination – the writer I want to be, and have always wanted to be.
Thank you for continuing to join me on that journey!