Protecting my secret identity

Who is Quinn?

Now that my book is published, I receive email from readers.

This makes me very happy. But it also means I switch between my pen name and my real name, and the odds that I will mess up one day are… not in my favor.

I’m not really worried about accidentally telling a reader my real name. I assume I can pay off most of you with a book or some swag. Perhaps a gift card to Jamba Juice.

But what if I accidentally sign a work e-mail with my pen name?? Crap, that would be bad. I’m going to need an explanation, and who knows what I’d write in a flailing panic.

I decided I’d better have a story ready to go, so I came up with a few drafts.

Example Crisis

Hi Leslie,
I’m attaching the report. Looks like we’re down 6% from the previous quarter.
Quinn

Thanks. But who is Quinn???
Leslie

Option 1: Weird Computer

How strange. I typed my own name, so I have no idea why it says “Quinn.” I guess my computer is being weird today.

I’ve heard of computers “being weird” before, primarily from older colleagues who can’t seem to launch Adobe Connect without deleting three folders and enabling sticky keys.

I used to think it was a flimsy excuse for learned incompetence, but now I know better. Those darn machines just act up sometimes. Or maybe I’m getting old?

Option 2: Hacked

Shit. My computer was just hacked. A mysterious group called “Pseudonymous” just called and claimed credit.

I said, “What the fuck? Who is Quinn?”

They told me it’s the name of their accountant’s new baby. The hack was just for fun—they didn’t access any secret information, and they’ll never do it again.

I told them, “That is unacceptable! I’m going to tell IT right now.”

But they said if I involve IT or report this in any way, they’ll hack the CEO’s computer in retaliation!

God, imagine having to explain to the CEO that his computer was compromised, and you could have stopped it just by staying quiet. We’d better keep this to ourselves and be thankful it wasn’t worse.

Option 3: Child Prodigy

Sorry, that email was sent by my 3 year old. He’s going through a stage where he thinks it’s “funny” to run reports and send them out with random names at the bottom. Then he says, “Mommy, I’m being silly!”

I keep telling him not to touch my important work laptop, that the integrity of the quarterly report is sacrosanct. But toddlers have minds of their own.

I remember you telling me your own children are also gifted, so you understand how trying it can be to cope with their precocious antics. I’ll have another talk with him, but I can’t promise it won’t happen again.

What I can promise is that it doesn’t mean anything.

Option 4: Witness Protection

Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Listen, Leslie. I need you to forget that you ever heard that name. Innocent lives are at stake, not to mention truth and justice. Shit. I’ve said too much already.

Please, Leslie. I am appealing to you not as an employee, but as a person. I don’t want to start over again, not when I’ve finally made a life where I rent a cramped suburban townhouse and work in data reporting—my dream job.

Delete this email and pretend you never heard of “Quinn.” Erase the name from your memory like you erase your whiteboard after a team meeting (without writing anything down). And for the love of god, don’t tell anyone.

Those are my best attempts. Please let me know which you would find most convincing, or if you have a better idea.

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