For my kick-off post for the April A to Z Challenge I thought I would start by introducing myself and talking a bit about my name. Since my name begins with the letter “A” I figured why not use it to my advantage. My given name is Andrew, but growing up I have always gone by Andy. There were only a few people in my life at that point that would ever dare to call me Andrew namely my mother (and usually only in anger/frustration) and a good friend who always preferred calling me Andrew for some odd reason. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens when I started to apply for things like jobs, drivers licenses, and eventually university that I started using my full name – Andrew Taylor – on forms. It sounded more official and in my naive logic at the time, I thought it was only fitting that I use my legal name since these were important and official forms. I thought someone might take me less seriously, or that my paperwork might not match up if I put down my name as Andy.
While it might not seem like a big deal, the unexpected side effect has been that “professionally”, i.e. at work, everyone got to know me as Andrew, while everyone in my personal life knew me as Andy. My identity as Andrew was perpetuated when ever I changed jobs because, unlike changing schools were you could afford to re-invent yourself, I would need references from co-workers and former bosses. Applying for a new job as Andy would only lead to confusion when the new employer would contact the old employer for references etc. Whether intentional or not I began to appreciate having an “alternate identity” at work. It kept things simple and separated. Of course few co-workers that have become friends have transcended that boundary and alternate between calling me either Andy or Andrew.
The name game was further complicated when I began writing. There is already a British mystery author by the name of Andrew Taylor and while I could simply go by Andy Taylor, there is a little matter of a couple of other semi-famous (or at least common in terms of google searches) Andy Taylors. One Andy Taylor is a former guitarist from Duran Duran and the other Andy Taylor is the fictional Sheriff of Mayberry from the television series The Andy Griffith Show. While parents couldn’t possibly have predicted the rise to fame of Duran Duran 14 years or so after my birth, I have other suspicions about the influence of one fictional character from North Carolina that was fairly popular around the time I was born. While I have confronted my parents – repeatedly – on the issue, they deny any conspiracy and insist it was random coincidence that I share a name with the Sheriff from Mayberry.
Regardless, it leaves me with the dilemma of how to “brand” myself as an author. I had considered going with the initials A.W. Taylor, but never liked how it looked. Instead I’ve chosen to go with Andy W. Taylor which allows me to some sort of “unique” identity on the web, as well as trading on the familiarity of the name. I actually worked the reference of Duran Duran and Mayberry into my bio:
Andy Taylor, when not being mistaken for the Sheriff of Mayberry or a member of a 1980s pop band, writes speculative fiction from his home in Sudbury, Ontario. Since 1999 Andy has also written about the use of time travel and alternate universes in popular culture on his website Andy’s Anachronisms (http://www.timetravelreviews.com).
So that’s my identity crisis in a nutshell. Now about the SooGuy nickname…maybe I should save that for the post on the letter S or if you’re really curious you can check out my ABOUT page.