Shakespeare’s immortal quote A rose by any other name, would smell just as sweet, applies in so many areas of life, and probably to the issue of pen names as much as any other. Still, names have implications. They conjure up images, willingly, or grudgingly, and spark feelings of desire, or misgiving.
Pen name, pseudonym, nom de plum, what ever you choose to call it, the goal in the past was usually the same—the hidden identity of an author. That’s not nearly quite as true now as it was in times past. Now days with the advent of Internet, and the global business card called a web site, it’s not uncommon to know the variety of names each author goes by. The goal now is more a case of separation more than cloak. Of course, there are still the few that use the nom de plum as a device with which to hide their true selves. Much more often anymore, however, it’s a matter of an author with a proclivity to produce work in several different genres, and a way to keep them sorted for the readers.
One could only assume it would be a good idea to identify your erotic writing with a name all its own, especially if you have a following for young adult, and/or Christian fiction. It’s even stronger than that, though. If you have a loyal fan base in Sci-Fi, and you pen a sappy, sweet romance… using a different name is probably a good idea. It’s not that the Sci-Fi crowd doesn’t like love. More that they expect a certain thing from you as a writer in that genre, and are likely to buy another book with your name on it, perhaps without even realizing the difference in genre, and be… well, mad. Perhaps as if it were some planned trickery on your part.
Although I’ve known a great many authors with at least one pen name, often two or more, I myself have never carried one. Maybe it’s a matter of vanity. Beyond any issues of narcissism I often find myself wondering how those with more than one name keep things straight.
Well, I’m about to find out.
Having penned my first accepted erotic story, I decided upon the use of a pen name. The one I chose was brought to mind from a favored alcoholic beverage of my grandmother’s. It was kind of a frilly drink, yet in it’s hey day, a quite socially acceptable one—Brandy Alexander.
Now, I chose that name because, quite honestly, I didn’t plan on writing in that particular genre further. It was an attempt to stretch my horizons, and broaden my skills, and I was happy with the singular success. However, as time passes, and with the release of that particular story looming in the very near future, I’ve begun to think perhaps it might be fun to write a few more. Maybe a novella, or even a full-length novel. Then, suddenly my frivolous choice of names began to weigh on me. It was a fun little nod to my long passed Granny at first (whom by the way, just adored a good bodice ripper in her time), but now I wondered if that was the name I wanted to promote on a longer term.
So I tossed, and turned, and made the decision to kill of good ole Brandy, and give the cover designer a heart attack in the process by asking her to please, pretty please change the name on the fantastic cover they’d already produced. Thankfully, the wonderful folks in our art department are both forgiving, and talented, and I’ve been assured it probably won’t be a problem.
So I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
My new name is actually not a far stretch from my actual name. I normally publish under my real moniker: Tami Parrington. However, on my birth certificate it boldly proclaims my name as: Tami LEE (now) Parrington… I’ve never really liked my middle name. However, while pondering the subject of names it seemed to me a perfect solution. My new name for this fun genre will be: Tammy Lee. Exchanging one familiar form of spelling of my first name for another, and using my middle name… mission accomplished (so long as the art department manages to complete the mission in time for final galleys).
Have you ever given thought to what names you would use if published (assuming you aren’t at the moment), or if you are now… how did you come up with the names you’ve chosen? Perhaps even more of a concern to me, how do you find handling multiple names if you write under more than one name?