Ah, the elusive Julius Dogwood, author, explorer, raconteur, gadabout and general man of mystery.
He is, in other words, me.
Julius Dogwood, a nom de plume
A nom de plume, or pen name. How cool is that? To be honest, I never thought I’d have one. Largely because I’m a guy who likes to get credit for the stuff I do.
But, as someone who writes and publishes books, I have found my niche, so to speak. I, Ryan Millar, write non-fiction books that are I guess, self-help, but are broadly personal explorations of artsy subjects I have a depth of experience in, like improvisation and public speaking.
So when I ended up with a children’s book it seemed pretty far afield of the row that I hoe.
Plus, since the project started as a birthday gift for my daughter, I decided to do everything myself: from the compiling and the writing (obviously). But also to other things I have no experience in: laying it out (in brand-new software), then in black and white illustrations. And in the end, even designing the cover!
As I was in unfamiliar territory on multiple fronts, and far from my core, well, let’s call it “brand”. I started considering going with a pen name.
Daft Poems & Twisted Tongues turns out quite well I think
The whole process was really fun (no surprise there, since it was truly a labor of love). Plus I learned a whole lot (a running theme with every new book I get under my belt).
But the big surprise for me is that the result is much much better than I hoped. Like, it’s a slim and fun book full of playful linguistic games and poetry for children, but it’s not nearly the amateurish doggerel I was afraid it might become.
However, in the early stages I had to decide whether to put this entirely handmade little book out into the world under my own name, and have it sit alongside the other books I have written (and had professionally edited)?
Or create a pen name. And so, I created a pen name. Enter Julius Dogwood.
Why Julius Dogwood
I mean, why that pen name, specifically. Well, it’s a tribute to my home province of British Columbia in Canada.
The provincial bird is a steller jay, and the flower is a dogwood flower. So when I was looking for a name, I came upon this info and thought “Aha, easy. Jay Dogwood. Job done”
But as I toyed with it afterward, I realized I didn’t love the name Jay. Sure, Jay Gatsby is a great literary name, and I have a brother-in-law named Jay who I’m quite fond of, but the name itself didn’t thrill me.
Then, riding the metro in Amsterdam a few days later I saw a small dog sitting on the floor by the door. It was wearing a Julius K-9 harness. “Oh, easy. Same initials but with a few more syllables and overall pomp.”
And that was that.
And so, it’s Julius Dogwood.
Anyway, the book’s now available on Amazon. It’s pretty good, and entirely handmade. Go check it out and pick up a copy! Julius would appreciate it.