I’ve been on the internet since the early 90s. I remember dial-up modems on my family’s Macintosh Performa, the Geocities revolution and MIDI music formats. And I remember accessing all of those sites with made-up usernames. It was simply the thing to do. From “rapturous_heart” in my early teens to “tokyoshorty” in my early twenties, monikers were simply the name of the game.
And then I started writing.
I have a confession to make. I gave a lot of excuses for using the androgynous “Alex Hurst.” I was worried about my personal security. I was worried about what friends and family might think of my writing, and if they would extrapolate every little defect of personality of the characters in my stories as some sort of deliberate condemnation (for the record, I do not write people I know into my works.) Another reason I went with a unisex name was the trends suggested that in SFF, female authors simply weren’t taken as seriously, and initialed or male-sounding names provided a passive opportunity to get rid of that bias. That’s not really true anymore. Diversity in fiction still has a long way to go, but there is so much support and celebration now that it would be silly to continue using a unisex name just for that reason.
This month (as most of you know), I started a masters course in Publishing at Simon Fraser University. At a social put on by the faculty the first week, John Maxwell and others talked about how they’d had a hard time trying to find “Alex Hurst” in the auditorium during orientation. I’d been blogging about MPub for months, but not under my real name. They were able to figure out that the initials were the same as my real name (AH). But then John asked me something else that solidified a feeling I’d been having for months:
When you start doing your academic writing, what name will you go by?
It was a simple question with a difficult answer. For a few years now my use of Alex Hurst was eroding within my design business (as I met most of my clients through Facebook friends), and then as a volunteer for Kyoto Journal. But that question made me realize something crucial: I want to be able to put my name on my work.
It’s as simple as that. I love my name. I always have. It’s unique, it carries with it a history that I treasure, and it’s me. And I’m tired of juggling the online persona that is really just me hiding, and my real life, where I am confident, free to express myself how I please, and not confuse people to death with a double-sided business card.
So, without further ado, let me introduce myself to you all officially.
Hello, my name is Ariel Hudnall.
It’s pronounced R•E•L Hud•NALL, though I don’t get angry when people say Airy•elle.
Everything in my bio is true. I was born in Louisiana and lived near a golden river for most of my young childhood until my family packed up and moved to California. I have a ton of siblings, though the count changes depending on who I decide to count (complicated family histories will not be discussed at this point in time, haha).
I’ve lived on the road for a year, in Kyoto for six years, and am now puttering about in Vancouver as an academic.
So, no more Alex Hurst. Forgive me while all of my social media slowly goes through the motions necessary to reflect this massive change.