I get this question a lot. Last time was just a couple weeks ago. @thinkerv was the curious one. I think I have already told the story many times on this blog but never actually did a specific post about it. So here it is.
It was given to me
Back in the university, I initially wanted to be a lawyer, until the day I understood it meant being broke, overworked and bent under a student status until I was 30 years old. So I moved on to my other passion : books.
I entered a school teaching students how to become professionals in the books industry. It included 3 majors : library, publishing and book selling. My major was publishing, which meant I was trained in both editorial and technical departments.
Students came from all types of backgrounds (maths, literature, sciences) but I was one of the only 2 coming from law school.
One thing did federate us all : Science fiction and Fantasy. They were very popular among the students and many times we would talk with references to SF books. These were the years the Lords of the Rings film trilogy was in the making, Harry Potter films were just hitting theaters and every body discovered the power behind the literary magical worlds.
During these years, I studied typography, editorial strategies, professional softwares (indesign, illustrator, flash, aso) and computer networks. I happened to be quite passionate about the latter and would sometimes let my advocating tendencies take over in group projects sessions when I thought my solution was more elegant.
One day, after championing one of my ideas again, a girl from the back of the classroom said « And that’s how Polgara does it » just loud enough so everyone would hear it. We all burst into laughing.
It was an obvious reference to how I looked then (long black hair with a with a white stroke above the left eye) and to my feisty temper.
I’m a good sport and the reference wasn’t that bad so I decided to go with the nickname and own it. I even thought about buying a long blue dress but never really git the time to do it.
… kind of.
For anyone who does not know who Polgara is, you might want to check David Eddings’s Belgariad and Malloreon. Polgara is one of the main character in all of these books. She’s a powerful (the most powerful) witch and politician who fought against evil to protect many countries, modernised her government and freed people from slavery. Her work earned her many titles, given to her as token of gratefulness. Among those, Polgara has been made Duchess of Erat.
When I started on the internet, I simply kept the nickname Polgara. I even had an email adress polgara @ provider.com but by the time I changed my provide, hundreds of thousands of Polgaras had created accounts around the web, and I did not want to be one of the Polgaras with a number attached to her name. So I had to find a trick and I chose to use one of her tittles, Duchess of Erat. I’ve been using it for more than a decade now and so far, it has been quite convenient I must admit.
The bright side
I get to be called Duchess, without the responsibilities attached to the tittle (poor Kate Middleton 😉 ).
The down side.
In French the tittle sounds exactly like Duchess of rats. But I have never really minded. Ratatouille is a Rat. 😀
Now, you know where my Gravatar really comes from. It has never been Hedwig.