Monday, August 13, 2012

What's In A Name (To Pseudonym or Not to Pseudonym)

A recent FB post by a friend of mine made me think of the reason why I go by the name of Bard Constantine. Well, for my writing anyway. I have yet to run into anyone who looks at me and screams "Hey, that's Bard Constantine!" I suppose I'll have to prepare myself for that moment, because it will no doubt be a surreal experience. Getting screamed at, I mean.

I certainly didn't start off writing as Bard. When I was writing my overly long, exhaustively difficult fantasy epic that debuted my journey into novel writing, I used the name Lewis Knight, which is two of the three names that my mom gave me. The first I won't divulge because it's irrelevant to the discussion, plus I don't want to give up everything. I barely know you, after all ;)

So Lewis Knight is pretty cool, right? I mean, it would look good stamped on a book cover, and has a pretty nice ring when you say it a few times -go ahead and try it, you'll see. So why pass up on that for a name that sounds like it was made up by a goth/emo high school kid who writes bad poetry? One word, actually.


That's right. Back at the beginning, I was in foul spirits after my debut novel was rightfully rejected by publishers and agents, and I slunk into a dark corner and wrote some pretty awful poetry for a while. Darkness and depression, boo hoo type of stuff. I dubbed myself the romantic title Bard of Darkness, and penned poems of romantic depression like the Phantom of the Opera, only without the scars. Or the skills. The only thing that saved me was that occasionally a halfway decent poem would emerge, which proves that if you keep throwing mud on a white wall, eventually someone will walk by and call it a work of art.

To think: people actually pay to see what your kid will do for free.

Well, despite the outpouring of admiration and applause by online friends who meant well but should have just told me that I sucked, I came to the realization that my poetry needed to improve. I had emerged from my depressive stupor and blinked uncertainly at the light of realization. I needed something to write about. I needed to develop my craft. And my answer came in the form of vampires. This was about the time that the Twilight phenomenon exploded, dragging vampire lore into the land of sparkly skin and blank-eyed stares. While I never read or even was tempted to read the novels, I was amused by the vehemence of the Twilight haters, who seethed online about how poorly written the books were, and how vampires would never blah blah blah. My thought was: how many of said haters could create a bestselling national craze? It's easy to criticize another person's success, much harder to duplicate. If you think something sucks, then do it better. Do your own take and one-up on whatever it is that has your undies in a knot. I mused on how I could do at writing a YA vampire novel. What would my take be? Which got me thinking: if something like a vampire existed, what it really be like? We're talking about a being who has lived across ages, seen things... that you people wouldn't believe, right? (The link has nothing to do with vampires, just the best quote in film history. Thank me later.)


Someone had to explore that. And so I created a character. Haunted and lonely, reclusive and enigmatic. I would write from his perspective, bring to life his story, his viewpoint, his emotions and feelings from the things he'd witnessed over ages of time. He needed a name. And so I gave him one.

Bard Constantine.

The Bard was a nod to my depressive prologue as the Bard of Darkness. Constantine had a nice Gothic ring to it. And so my journey under a new name began. I chose an avatar that suited the persona and name of my character perfectly: Vincent Valentine from the Final Fantasy video games. For a while no one knew who Bard Constantine was. I was free to write my material with complete anonymity, and spun out tales of darkness and haunted loneliness.

With a name like Bard Constantine, you should automatically be made into a Final Fantasy character ;)

I quickly expanded my perspective to simply that of an immortal, free of the confines of vampiric lore. I quickly built a collection of poems under the theme of immortal consciousness, those stories, times, and people that live on forever through the written and spoken word, those that live within us through memory. I had been reborn as a writer of poetry, and that fire quickly spread to my novel writing. And it led to my volume of poetic works, Immortal Musings.

This poetry is actually good. No, really.

Being Bard Constantine had aided me in understanding the craft of writing and the exploration of character building and development. So I was understandably hesitant to let go of the name once I stepped back into novel writing. But I went back and forth for a while until I came to the day that I would make the fateful decision that would alter my creative life forever. And yet again one word can explain why.


Google, that ever handy, ever so necessary revealer of online searches. I have the habit of looking myself up online to see what kind of digital presence I'm building. A search under Lewis Knight exposed very little. Everything wrapped up in less than a page. A search under Bard Constantine was much more revealing. Page after page of info. I didn't realize at the time the importance of a name that no one else has. It basically meant a free run online without any interference from anything else. I was free to brand myself, create an online presence that Lewis Knight could never match. Right now a Google search of Bard Constantine will lead to over ten pages of material that relates only to me. Even an image search will provide four full pages of images related to me. Online presence is a major plus in today's digital marketing and promotion. And so I decided to become Bard Constantine permanently. Ultimately, will it prove to be the right choice?

Time will tell.

Robyne Renee Vickers is directly responsible for this waltz down memory lane. Any complaints of boredom or long-windedness can be directed to her. Or just check out her blog. Like most of the ones you'll come across, it's much better than mine.


  1. Well, I didn't receive any complaints so I think you're good! This was a great read, I wish I had seen your fb post a few days ago.

    With branding and net visibility being such a huge component of author success these days, I have to agree with you, that this choice of Bard Constantine was a sound decision. It rings, as do your words. Keep it going, Bard! :)


  2. Thanks R. Renee! At this point I'm past the point of no return, but I think it works...