Elk Vilianni

Being Elk Vilianni ~ Guest Post

‘Tell me, what is your name?’

‘My name? My name is…’

Miriam’s mind searched for a while and then she took a deep breath and sighed the words of her imagined truth.

‘My name is Elk Vilianni.’

Those closing lines of the story I recently wrote for the Wicked Wednesday meme, inspired by the prompt, ‘Imagination’, appear to have pre-empted this prompt which invites me to write about my pen name.

Some might read that story as a fictionalised account of how a middle-aged widow by the name of Miriam, at the start of a journey to find a reconnection with her sexual-self, uncovered a new persona and alighted on the name of ‘Elk Vilianni’ to assign to it. Yes, you might read it with that interpretation; I couldn’t deny the possibility of this as another ‘imagined truth’.

But it is a cold hard fact that ‘Elk Vilianni’ is not just a made-up name; it is the made-up name of a made-up person, every bit as fictional as ‘Miriam’.

I specifically invented the character of Elk to be the author of a story – ‘Shani’ – written from an autobiographical perspective, which was the first story I submitted for Wicked Wednesday. At the time, I think I imagined that I might write other stories as Elk, so she became a character who is consistent with the character in ‘Shani’. I even played with writing a brief biog of Elk Vilianni, written in the future (I don’t remember why!):

Elk Vilianni (b. 12 February 1992) is a Canadian novelist and academic best known for ‘The Jung Ones: Fiction as Self Control’ (2027), a controversial work of literary theory, and the novel ‘Shani’ (2025).Born to a Swedish mother and Italian father, Vilianni grew up in a repressive religious community near Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. Her adolescent years are depicted in ‘Shani’ which was originally marketed as an autobiography. After the book became a bestseller, notorious for its sexual explicitness and, seemingly, exposing the dark underbelly of the…

That was as far as I got.

Some people responded to ‘Shani’ as though the story was a true autobiographical account. There was no reason for them not to, as none had ever heard of Elk Vilianni before. (I guess, this is a trick you can only pull with a first story… or by repeatedly inventing new pseudonyms…). I was intrigued, and somewhat concerned, by this; something I wrote about in a follow-up piece for the next Wicked Wednesday prompt.

Since then, Elk has become more straightforwardly a writer of stories in which she does not appear, until her recent reappearance as a (possibly imaginary?) character in the story of Miriam (which Elk has promised to continue).

She has even set up a Twitter profile, @ElkVilianni. Or rather, I have set up a Twitter profile, for I am Elk Vilianni! As of this moment, I have 15 followers. I have a keen urge to want to let them know, ‘I’m not really Elk Vilianni!’ But, at the same time, I don’t feel ready to give her up. I’ve found that I rather like being Elk Vilianni.

4thoughts liberating holdups
Pen name

12 thoughts on “Being Elk Vilianni ~ Guest Post”

  1. I don’t see why you shouldn’t be whoever you want to be. I have more than one pen name for my totally different genres of writing. (I expect my style is the same in both)
    If you like the veils and intrigue, carry on with Elk as who you are for when you write, only please dont stop writing and sharing.

    1. You’re right, Posy! And, yes, I confess I do like the veils and intrigue – all is fiction, eh? It is a conflict though; part of me resents the knots I tie myself in and wants to be seen and uncomplicated… x

  2. Elk (or Miriam),
    What you describe is a not uncommon writing technique. Humans find it easier the think in black and white, good and evil, fiction and non-fiction. So if character #1 is a writer with a pseudonym, (character #2), then character #2’s fictional existence somehow in our minds, makes character #1 more real. And of course because character #2 is writing about character #3, really exercises the mind of the reader
    The style is used in many plays and movies, Google “movies about making movies”.
    Techniques like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and her/your posts, can all flesh our Elk’s character outside the constraints of a story.
    Good luck to you both and your creator.

    1. Thank you, Sir! It does all get quite confusing though doesn’t it… but maybe that’s the point!

      Best wishes from Elk and her Creator (who is also called Elk…) x

  3. I like how unique the name ‘Elk Vilianni’ is 😄
    And no, I wouldn’t give it up if I were you. After all, who expects people’s names to be real on the internet anyway 😅

  4. True, true.

    I realise that I didn’t really explain the name itself and I’m not sure if I can really what (if anything!) was in my mind at the time.

    ‘Elk’ sounded suitably Canadian (for the purposes of the ‘Shani’ story) but exotic and gender-neutral. I initially thought an ungendered name might help me to write from male, female and other perspectives but, once Elk took on a life of her own, she became definitively female. And I’ve post-rationalised the name (with the ‘Swedish mother’ invention) as a reduction of the more familiar Swedish name, ‘Elke’.

    But ‘Vilianni’… I just liked the sound of it! It’s taken me until now to remember that it’s spelt with one L and two Ns. And, with a Swedish mother and an Italian father, is it any wonder that I am as sexy as fuck! 🙂

    (As for ‘Miriam’… that’s a sexy name, don’t you think, in an earthy D. H. Lawrence kinda way!)

    E x

  5. In this online/virtual world – more so than ever – we can be who we want to be. I think if you are creating, supporting, spreading joy, not being malicious then call your self what you want – just carry on with the fab writing
    May x

    1. Thanks, May. Yeah, I mean, who of us is fully our ‘true self’ in the so-called ‘real world’ anyway? x

  6. I have found the name Elk Vilianni intriguing from the very first moment, and from the moment you shared that first post on Wicked Wednesday, I was a fan of your writing. Be Elk for as long as you want, share as much as you want of Elk, as long as we can keep on reading your creations, because they are just so good!
    ~ Marie xox

  7. I’m glad i saw Sir Thomas’s post that led me back to the meme and your post. I’m intrigued by your story and will search out more! Thanks for sharing.

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