Monday, April 12, 2010

Who is Hedwig Graymalk?

I suppose the name Hedwig Graymalk sounds a little too literary to be my real name.  Which is fine, because it's not.  In general I don't like to use my actual name on the internet.  Safety is one reason.  As everyone knows, you never can be sure who is at the other end of the internet.

But where did Hedwig Graymalk come from, and why use a pseudonym for my Etsy shop?

Hedwig was my maternal grandmother's name.  She was never overly fond of her name, but even as a little girl I loved it.  At what ended up being her last Christmas she gave me a baby doll that I immediately named Hedwig.  Grandma died when I was only nine years old, so I never knew her as well as I would have liked.
Fast forward to the release of the first Harry Potter movie, and I finally caught on to the phenomenon.  Imagine my surprise and delight when, in the first book, Harry names his beautiful snowy owl Hedwig.  Finally I had proof that someone besides myself appreciated the name!

When 2004 rolled around and I moved in with my then-boyfriend (now husband), I needed a new AOL screen name/email address.  Yes, we still had AOL in 2004.  The name Hedwig was already taken.  And since I planned on using the name for a long time, I wanted something more unique than just Hedwig27 or something like that.  I decided to use the name of another beloved animal character from another favorite book almost as a surname.  I chose Graymalk - the smart and sarcastic gray cat from Roger Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October.  I mulled the name over for a few days since I was serious about keeping it and decided Hedwig Graymalk fit me perfectly, even if it is cumbersome as an email address.  And it has stuck.

So why, other than paranoia, don't I use my real name online, even on Etsy?

Mainly because there's another artist out there who has been using it since before I was born.  She's a writer, and if you were to search my given name a million articles about her would come up, but anything I put out there would have gotten swallowed up in her press.  So she's welcome to continue using our name, and to the internet world I'll remain Hedwig Graymalk.


Gretchen said...

You forgot to mention that when the owl in Harry Potter got named Hedwig that you also love owls.

HedwigGraymalk said...

That's true. I do looove owls. But there was no way I could thing to phrase what actually happened with dignity since I called my mom and said, "ZOMG! He named the owl Hedwig!!!11!"