Guest Post: Author Victoria Corva - "How My Username Became My Pen-Name"
Victoria Corva writes things and reads things and reads things out loud, and sometimes she gets paid for that, which is nice because it means she can feed her cat.She lives in Wiltshire with her partner and her furry familiar and as many books as she could fit in her small flat.She is anxious and autistic and doing just fine.To find out more about her and read more of her work, visit https://victoriacorva.xyz
Choosing a pen-name has always been a huge deal to me -- and I say always because like many writers, I’ve wanted this gig since I was a kid. I was enchanted by the idea of pen-names because my name has always been a poor fit for me -- second-hand clothes in the wrong-size, never replaced with anything that suited me.
My first name, Victoria, is something I love. I’ve been told it’s narcissistic to love your name (Why? I didn’t choose it) but I do. My only complaint is that it’s a bit too common and it means people try to call me Vicky, which is a fine nickname for some but has never felt like me.
The real issue has been my surname. I’ve had too many. My father’s name, my mother’s maiden name, my step-father’s name, and any combination of the above stitched together with hyphens by slap-dash school admins. When I got married, I took my partner’s name even though the idea of being a Mrs appalled me, because it felt like I had no better options. But still it didn’t fit. I’d been burned by so many family-ties that I so often felt like an outsider using my surname as a disguise. What I wanted was my own name, with no history but what I gave it. And I think that’s why writing with a pen-name had always appealed to me.
As a young writer I’d tried out many pen-names, each more ridiculous than the last. Names that made me sound like a heroine from a story, names that made me sound distinguished or mysterious. All of them obviously and completely fake.
Finding the perfect pen name came from a few perfect sources.
The first was finding out that Maggie Stiefvater, an author I deeply admired, had changed her first name when she was a teenager simply because she didn’t feel that the name she’d been given suited her. There were, as far as I could tell, no negative consequences to this, and I found the idea utterly enchanting.
‘Can you imagine just changing your name to anything you want?’ I said to my partner dreamily. ‘I wish I could do that. But I’d only change my last name, really, and you can’t do that.’
‘Why not?’ he said.
‘Because it isn’t what people do,’ I said. Mentally, I added: Because people will be angry at me. And I can’t afford to burn any more bridges.
‘It’s your name,’ he said firmly. ‘And besides -- you’ve never been bothered by “what other people do” before.’
And wasn’t that the truth.
The more I thought about it, the more normal it seemed. Afterall, people had been changing their names for centuries, even if only by degree. A myriad of different spellings and pronunciations for seemingly similar names, not to mention embarassing surnames being quietly dropped. Why couldn’t I change mine?
The best way to try it out seemed to be through a pen-name. But now, the question I’d been struggling with since I was a little girl: how to choose?
It was a little easier now that I knew I wanted the name to be me, not a disguise. I had a few criteria:
I wanted to keep my first name
I wanted it to feel thematically right for me
I wanted it to be unusual
I wanted it to be comfortable
Some of those were harder matches than others. But after a while of trying and discarding names, I remember lamenting to my partner:
‘Why is this so difficult?’ I crossed out another name, wrinkling my nose in distaste. ‘Everything feels so *wrong*. They feel like the names of strangers. They don’t feel like *me*, you know?’
‘Well … what would make a name feel like you?’
‘I don’t know … that I’d been using it a while already?’ I laughed bitterly. ‘Little chance of that, unless I decide to use my username …’ I mentioned it because I’d had similar criteria when choosing it years before.
My partner raised his eyebrows. ‘Sounds like you have your solution.’
‘My username is Vicorva,’ I said. ‘It doesn’t really sound like a name.’
What it sounded like was that I’d made a portmanteau of Victoria and Corvidae (the crow family), which is absolutely what I’d done. It didn’t sound like a name, but my partner wasn’t wrong.
It hit me very suddenly that I could just separate it back out again. Victoria Corva. And I knew, as soon as I had the thought, that the words were right.
I’ve been using the name Victoria Corva for my fiction for a few years now, and have just published my debut fantasy novel, BOOKS & BONE, under that name.
It was a name with good associations, which online friends had been calling me for years. It felt like me.
It just seems a little funny that something as random and inconsequential as a username could end up being the face of my career.
And as it happens, it will soon become my real name -- or that’s what I’m working on, anyway.
I’d love to hear how you chose your name, in whatever form that may be -- real, pen, username. What criteria you had. How much it mattered to you.
And thanks for reading.
Guys, Victoria is so nice and she is an independent author who is working extremely hard to try and make her career as a writer work (to all authors out there, you have to be able to relate at least to some extent). So please go check out her book and support her! Pleases go support her as a reader or writer, whoever you are!
check out victoria's book:
A Librarians-and-Necromancy Fantasy with Small Town Charm in a City of the Dead The others believe in blood and bone. Ree believes in books. She manages the libraries and draws maps for the denizens of her hometown, a secret society of necromancers hiding in a sprawling underground crypt. Though they look down on her for not practicing their craft, Ree has bigger ambitions than raising the dead. She’s going to resurrect therianthropy, the ancient magic of shapeshifting. Or at least -- she’ll do it if it really exists. And if she can find the books that prove it. But Smythe, a chatty historian from the world above, stumbles into the crypt and takes a curse meant for Ree. Now she has to find a way to save him, keep the townsfolk off her back, and convince her necromancer parents that shapeshifting is a viable career path. Ree is certain that if she and Smythe combine their scholarly skill sets, they’ll find the right books to solve their problems. But Ree’s search for power might put the entire town in danger, and her father and the other townsfolk want Smythe dead lest he reveal their home to a world that hates them.