Nin doesn’t live here anymore.
In truth, I have not wanted to be “Nin Harris” for a very long time. The first time I tried to change my pen name was sometime in 2011, and again, in 2020 when that horrible implosion of my SFF career occurred.
The name “Nin” and me have always been awkward bedfellows. It used to be an IRC nickname, an abbreviation of Niniane, which I used in mythology and fantasy chatrooms. I kind of liked how it sounded, and then on livejournal I did one of those “which should be my new author name” polls, and the majority chose “Nin Harris”. I’m no longer friends or in touch with any of those people, some of whom could not and would not respect my South East Asian/Malaysian Muslim upbringing, culture and heritage.
Today, I played around with cover design for (working title) Watermyth and put Nin Harris on the cover. As before, it didn’t feel right. I rephrase: it felt screechingly wrong. It felt like wearing someone else’s clothes. The same way that whenever anyone calls me Nin, sometimes I don’t recognise it’s me. So I typed in J.A. Harris, the name I wanted to change in 2005 because it felt so generic. But I see there’s another J.A. Harris author out there and that would be confusing! So, I have picked Anita J. Harris, as that would be less confusing to readers. And I want to know it’s me when people call my name.
Backstory: I wrote the first Sesen stories as J.A. Harris, so very long ago as a teenager in Sungai Petani, Kedah. I started the Yrejveree (then Stormlight’s Realm) hypertext in 1997 as J.A. Harris. J.A. Harris was the name that teenager desperate to make it as an author said that her novels would be published under. Because my name, when I was born, was going to be June Anita Harris, but then they decided that my name should be Anita because A names are always the first on student lists (ha ha, my OCD dad).
So, Nin Harris had a good publishing run of 26 fiction pieces and a fistful of poems. There’s no guarantee that Anita, returning to her actual name will have as many published poems and fiction under other publishers, but she’s going on a self-publishing odyssey anyway.
Onwards, as Anita J. Harris!
It’s way less convoluted than the others so here’s hoping it sticks.
As for the name Niniane, I’ve always been in love with the story of the Lady of the Lake, but neither she nor Merlin whom she loved, had a happy ending, did they?
So, why curse myself with such a sad name?
I can be in love with stories without being one myself, you know? Sad that it took me seventeen years to wake up to this truth. Nin is gone, gone since five traumatic weeks on a hospital bed. But Anita, she’s part who she was, and part who she’s becoming. She’s on an adventure that seems grim because of current disabilities. But she grows stronger every day. Do not doubt her strength. Do not doubt my strength.
Oh, and if you want to know what Watermyth’s actual title is going to be, you’re going to have to wait for the cover reveal in oh, two month’s time. I’m excited about it, and hope you will like it.
If you’ve been calling me Nin all this while, please — call me Anita (again). It’s a good name. And it feels like coming home.
ps: updating all of my sites to reflect this new pen name will take some time. I’m not done grading yet.