I know what you’re thinking; what kind of name is Ark? It’s probably exactly what you think it is, a pseudonym. But more on that later. I wanna start with my favorite subject: Who is Ark?
I’m a Norwegian born and raised fantasy and science fiction writer. I currently live in Bergen, a beautiful city on a warm summer day. Unfortunately, we don’t get many of those. To be blunt, if you’re ever visiting Bergen, bring an umbrella. And full rain gear, just to be on the safe side. You’d think having bad weather would be perfect for a writer. Perfect for spending the day inside, with a warm beverage of your choice in you hand, laptop at the ready, letting your imagination run wild.
Except it doesn’t work like that. For one, I have a day job. Also, I have a dog. A sweet and fluffy chihuahua – Moya – who likes to pretend she is more important than anything else in my life. She’s right of course, but I’m not about to tell her that.
I’ve been writing my whole life, but it wasn’t until after I read The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan almost 20 years ago, that my love for fantasy was born. It wasn’t long after that that the dream of becoming an author began. I’d already ben writing for years before that, but that had only been fan fiction. I never really because all that well-known in my chosen fandoms, which in hindsight might be a good thing. I’ll never be ashamed of what I wrote, but I also don’t intend to link to any of it here. Cause let’s be honest, none of it was actually all that good. For better or worse though, it helped shape me as a writer.
Sometime in the years following my discovery of the Wheel of Time series, my mind started working on what would eventually become the foundation for my fantasy series. As I started reading more and more, branching out into related genres like urban fantasy, science fiction and steampunk, new stories came to me. And that’s how I ended up here, with three major projects in the works, as well as ideas for countless more. My brain seems incapable of focusing on one project at a time, which works out well, since I like multi-tasking.
In recent years I’ve published various articles for the Bergen Student Radio, where I was the program director and radio host for a show about fantasy and science fiction about two years. I’ve also self-published a short story – The Answers at the X – under my real name. That happened just a month before I decided I wanted to go the pseudonym route when it came to my writing.
That brings us full circle, back to the beginning and the burning question of why I chose a pseudonym to begin with. The answer is two-fold. My real name is Cicilie Husebø Nilsen, which is a name I love. My first name is different by Norwegian standards (the common spelling would be Cecilie), my last name extremely common, and my middle name less common, but with the Norwegian letter -ø making it difficult for non-native speakers to spell properly. It’s also a bit of a mouthful. Which was why I originally opted for the much easier Cicilie Nilsen when publishing.
While it doesn’t look all that hard on the page, it is still a name I know most English speakers struggle to pronounce properly. I spent a year in the US at the turn of the millennium, and I didn’t meet a single person who could get it right. Which didn’t bother me at all, and still doesn’t, but it left me with a big question. If it is hard to pronounce properly, will readers be able to remember it having only heard it spoken once or twice? Or how about if they just saw a cool cover, and forgot to take a picture or write down the author’s name? Would they still be able to remember days or weeks later? I know I may not be giving people enough credit here, after all plenty of authors have names that are hard to pronounce or remember. But as a struggling new writer, did I want to take the chance?
I pondered this for a long time, but in the end, decided to try to find a different name. Mainly for the reason above, but also because at that point, I had decided I just wanted to use a pseudonym. Finding one wasn’t easy though. I could just short it down to C.H Nilsen. But that seemed kind of boring. So I decided to look for different names. Ark was a name I’d written down months earlier (I do this with cool names I think I may want to use for something). Reynes I found after doing surname searches for a few days. And together, they fit me like a glove. I’ll admit to being a sucker for short names. And ones that start with the letter -A. It’s also different, but not too different. Reynes reminded me of rain, and coming from a city quite famous for its rain, it felt like it was meant to be.
So there you have it, the reason I chose to use a pseudonym. To make me easier to remember (I hope), and because in the end, I wanted to.
The following articles were published for the Bergen Student Radio (Studentradioen i Bergen). I was part of starting a show about fantasy and science fiction in August 2013, and was the radio host and program director until June 2015.
Ni tegn på at naboen er en superskurk – published 16/10/2013
Lego: Ikke bare for de minste – published 19/02/2014
Fan fiction for viderekommende -published 11/06/2014
Bokklubben: Elantris – published 09/10/2014
Reisebrev: The Harry Potter Studio Tour – published 23/11/2014
Fem filmer du bare må se – published 20/02/2015
Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015) – published 06/03/2015
Norsk fantasy på farten – published 22/03/2015
Har du hørt om Claudia Black? – published 28/05/2015
Drikkeleker: fandom style – published 28/08/2015
Hva med Nanowrimo i november? – published 21/10/2015