Romantic pen names: when the author is a character

Sep 3rd 2009

A friend of a friend approached with an interesting challenge. She's attempting to break into the romance novel business. Could I offer any advice on picking a suitable pen name?

Pseudonyms have a long literary tradition, but they're especially common in genre fiction. Some authors adopt a pen name to protect their real identities, especially if their writing is on the steamy side. A string of bodice rippers doesn't fit in with every resume. Others choose pen names to spruce up a name they consider undesirable for the marketplace -- one that's hard to spell, for instance, or a masculine identity in a feminine genre. Still others establish separate identities for separate sub-genres. It's not unusual to find romance novelists with half a dozen different pen names to suit different occasions. In each case, the fiction writer is in the intriguing position of creating him/herself as a kind of character for the reader.

When romance authors choose names for their heroines, they aim for maximum romantic effect within the context of the genre. Recent Harlequin Regency offerings have paired the lovely likes of Christiana Daventry and Cressida Bramley with irrestible gents like Philemon Brittle and Valerian Inglemoore. (No, historical accuracy in naming is not a priority. Real Regency England names were hopelessly conservative, with vast numbers of Johns and Marys.) If you prefer your romances Old West style you can cosy up with couples like Maggie Grace and Garret Daines, or Kate Wells and Sam Pickett.

You might expect author pen names to follow the same genre pattern. In fact, romance author name styles hold steady across sub-genres. Here are some of the most common first names of current Harlequin authors from a variety of series:

Ann
Carol
Diane
Elizabeth
Joanna
Julia
Kathryn
Linda
Margaret
Michelle
Patricia
Sandra
Sharon
Susan

Nary a Cressida Bramley in the bunch. Interesting, eh? In fact, the list of first names is so strikingly normal that one might conclude they're all real. Some doubtless are, but a peek at the surnames says surely not all. I compiled a list of 60 recent Harlequin authors and almost all had British isles surnames of one or two syllables. That's hardly a representative sample of Sharons and Sandras. Checking lists of known romance author pseudonyms, the pattern held. Typical pen names were Paula, Eileen and Deborah, with short British-styled last names.

Why no Cressidas? The goal of a romance author name isn't to be romantic. It's to be warm, approachable, and above all trustworthy. You're putting your fantasies in the author's hands, and you want a cozy confidante. If she sounds too fake, or haughty, or judgmental, you back away. Yes, the author has to sound believable even when the book itself is called something like The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable-Girl.

Right now the typical romance author name is from the "Mid-Century America" style category in the Baby Name Wizard book. If you're just starting out in your romance career, you might inch a tad younger with a "Timeless" or "New Classic" name. Stephanie perhaps, or Rebecca? And don't forget that snappy British-sounding surname. Believability is good, but you can only take it so far.

Comments

1
September 3, 2009 9:41 AM

I am completely stunned, no make that absolutely gobsmacked, that "The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable-Girl" only got two stars on Amazon! With a title like that, the book must be wonderfully creative.

Your research always leads you to interesting places, Laura.

2
September 3, 2009 9:59 AM

"I am completely stunned, no make that absolutely gobsmacked, that 'The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable-Girl' only got two stars on Amazon!"

Sad but true. :-) Perhaps you'd do better with "The Ruthless Italian's Inexperienced Wife," "Blackmailed into the Greek Tycoon's Bed," or "Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion"?

Since I researched this column, Amazon's recommendations for me have taken an unfortunate turn.

3
September 3, 2009 10:16 AM

Oh, I don't know. It sounds to me like you're going to have a great couple of weeks!

4
By meppie (not verified)
September 3, 2009 10:27 AM

Thanks Laura. The marketing of the author's name seems to be very important to bookselling now. Consider this excerpt from Wikipedia regarding J.K. Rowling:

Before publishing her first book, her publisher Bloomsbury feared that the target audience of young boys might be reluctant to buy books written by a female author. It requested that Rowling use two initials, rather than reveal her first name. As she had no middle name, she chose K. for Kathleen as the second initial of her pseudonym, from her paternal grandmother. The name Kathleen has never been part of her real name.[3] Following her marriage, her legal name is Joanne Murray, which she uses when conducting her personal business.[9][10] She calls herself "Jo" and says, "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young, unless they were angry."[11]

5
September 3, 2009 10:31 AM

Blah, romance. (Just let me guy a bit. Thanks.)

Do Science Fiction authors' names show any trends? I've certainly enjoyed the trend to avoid real-world names for characters in Fantasy literature (not hard and fast by any means, but present). Makes for interesting insights into the author's mind.

6
September 3, 2009 10:33 AM

Oh, well, there is the initials trend in Fantasy authors (J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkein being the most famous examples).

7
September 3, 2009 10:45 AM

The names of these books are hilarious! Reminds me of a list of country song names I saw once. The only one I can remember is entitled, "My Best Friend Ran Off With My Girl and I Sure Do Miss Him." Ooh now that I think about it I think there's one called, "I Don't Care if it Rains or Freezes, Long as I Have my Plastic Jesus Riding on the Dashboard of my Car." Or something like that:)

8
September 3, 2009 10:53 AM

meppie,

Thanks for the background on J.K. Rowling's name! I guess we were thinking about the same thing, but you got the research done first. Awesome!

9
September 3, 2009 11:03 AM

This topic makes me so happy! I work in a bookstore where we constantly mock the names of the Harlequins Presents...one of our favorite games is to say two, one real, and one we just made up, and see who can guess which title is real. I personally like all the ones with "Virgin Mistress" in the title (such as Virgin Mistress, Scandalous Love Child). Also, I notice with the possessives, that the men are almost always Greek, Sicilian, or Brazilian "The Greek Billionaire's Baby Revenge, etc"

Anyway, I agree that most pseudonyms are fairly common first names with last names that try and sound slightly more alluring, but definitely British. For ex., Heather Graham and Shannon Drake are the same person, as are Sharon Sala and Dinah McCall, and when you compare the two names of each set they sound quite similar.

And finally, my name is Jessica, and my married last name is H0ward. When I got married all my co-workers teased me that I now sounded like a romance author....and lo and behold a few months later I found a romance novel by a Jessica H0ward!

10
By EVie
September 3, 2009 11:14 AM

This is a great topic, Laura! I've always wanted to write ever since I was a little kid, and I always wondered what name I would publish under - the name I grew up with didn't feel very authorly to me, so I was always coming up with possible pen names. Then I went and married into a very common, simple, British surname, so now I'm thinking I might go the initials with real surname route. We'll see when the novel finally is finished.

Linnaeus - I read a lot of fantasy, and I've read authors who say that they like to invent character names because they feel that coming across a name that is too familiar jolts them out of the fantasy world and back into the real world. I feel like it really depends on how skilled the author is at making up names - I've read some names in fantasy novels that jolt me out of the fantasy world simply because they're too awkward sounding to be believable as names, or if every time I read them I have to wonder how they're pronounced. It's definitely interesting to see the variety though.

11
By EVie
September 3, 2009 11:25 AM

Oh, also, re: Regency names: I'm extrapolating a bit to a wider time period, but it's interesting to note that while real 18th-century names were pretty limited (John, Charles, Henry, Mary, Elizabeth, Anne), many of the authors writing during the time period came up with some pretty fancy names for their heroines. From real 18th-century novels:

Pamela
Clarissa
Evelina
Cecilia
Camilla
Emmeline
Celestina
Arabella (from The Female Quixote)
Belinda

All these except for Arabella are also the titles of the novels themselves.

12
September 3, 2009 11:50 AM

Great topic, Laura! Unfortunately, I couldn't resist clicking on the link ( I couldn't believe you hadn't made up that title!), so now Amazon will be recommending more for me, I guess. Sigh.

Hmm. My married name is one-syllable British. Add that to Valerie and I fit right in, don't I? Shame I'm not interested in writing those sorts of books!

Re: Camilla. I woke up wondering about the name Camille. It's rare in the UK but I'm finding it on 20 somethings all over the place, here in California. At the beginning, assuming it was rare, I thought my sister-in-law and I were talking about the same person in our small town, but I subsequently realized how common it is here. Do any of you know why?

13
September 3, 2009 11:51 AM

hmm. linnaeus, guys are hardly the only ones who respond to romance novels with a "blah."

interesting topic though...i've never really thought of romance authors as needing to be warm and approachable, but i suppose it's true. i've always found pen names really interesting though. we should research that initials thing more...i wonder why j.r.r. tolkien chose to use initials (possibly because all those names wouldn't fit on a cover...?)

14
September 3, 2009 11:55 AM

EVie:

I agree that a good fantasy name is easy enough to understand, but not typical. The quitessential Aragorn is good. Sometimes, the name is close enough to existing names that it could easily become used in the real world, like Adriala.

Still, it's a little interesting that the made-up character names that do make the transition to real-world use (Vanessa, Wendy) start as names of real-world characters. Perhaps it's a question of time. Fantasy worlds have what, maybe a century of history outside of mythology?

15
September 3, 2009 12:07 PM

emilyrae:

Not liking romance as solely a guy thing? Of course not. Nothing ever is. But sometimes, you just gotta live up to the stereotype.

Or do you want to rag on romance novels together?

16
By sb (not verified)
September 3, 2009 12:33 PM

My husband once learned the danger of Googling himself when he discovered there was a romance novel in which the main male character -- and the target of the heroine's affection -- had his name. He was on the local news at the time and we think the author was local, but we never could find out if the author had him in mind when naming the character.

I thought it was the most hilarious thing ever and -- of course -- had to buy the book to read about his exploits.

17
September 3, 2009 2:00 PM

I have a question for my fellow NEs. How weird would it be to use Mariposa as a mn? I definitely want to honor my grandmother, Marie, who loved butterflies. Mariposa, of course, is the Spanish word for butterfly so I think it is a nice nod to both her name and something she loved. But is it too out there for a family with no known Spanish or Latino roots?

Another consideration is that Mariposa is a slang word for a homosexual male, analogous to "fairy." I don't think this would be a problem for a girl.

We are thinking either Louisa or Felicity as a fn. The second middle name (my maiden name) sounds like "worth" and the last name sounds like "Holland." What do you think? Should I just stick with Marie as the mn?

18
By Mrs. D (not verified)
September 3, 2009 2:03 PM

My sister used a pen name to write her first novel, "Gravity v. Girl." She went with Riley Noehren - a combo of the maiden names of our grandmothers. She's not a romance novelist, more like chick-lit, but I think the name works. Riley is a hip, fun name just like her writing.

In other news, we had our baby girl and went with Imogene Mae. (We were considering Liesl or Cleo.) It was a game time decision and gets mixed responses, but we love it. It just came to us (while I was pushing) and seemed right. Thanks for all your help, though. We'll keep your suggestions for the next one.

19
September 3, 2009 2:21 PM

Lysis (intriguing ID, by the way):

I definitely believe there is absolutely no problem taking a Latin name without being Latin yourself.

Besides, Mariposa as a name is really no more Latin than Sierra as a name. Since Mariposa is the name of one of the two counties where Yosemite National Park resides, there are lots of beautiful secondary meanings to Mariposa that makes it a wonderful choice for a name. I think it's a very beautiful and clever choice. Full approval from me!

20
By hyz
September 3, 2009 2:24 PM

NAR--I didn't get to comment on the other thread, so I hope you're still reading. Congratulations on your baby girl!! And I love love LOVE the name Laurel!! One of my favorites, and I'm glad to see it getting good use. Hope you and your family are doing well!

Mrs. D--Congratulations to you, too!! I think all your choices were lovely, and I really like Imogene Mae. Pretty, classic, and sweet.

Lysis -- I like the back story for why you want to use Mariposa, and I think that makes it a very nice choice. Plus it's a pretty word, and not too likely to be mangled by non-Spanish speakers. And as Linnaeus pointed out in the last thread, I think it might give the name a fun little unexpected twist, and make it more interesting than "just Marie"--which, as lovely as it is, IS a very common middle name, often used as filler for flow I think.

21
September 3, 2009 2:49 PM

@ emilyrae: What you said about J.R.R. Tolkein was interesting. It also might have been that the second R is (IMHO, and as far as I know) a rare and semi-difficult to pronounce name. Reuel (I belive that's the spelling). It's John Ronald Reuel Tolkein. It is also long, like you said.

@Lysis: I LOVE Mariposa, I didn't actually realize it was a Spanish name, I think it's so pretty. It's not difficult to pronounce and I think it will have so much meaning to your daughter because of the namesake you have.

@Mrs. D: Congrats on your daughter, Imogene Mae is a lovely name!

Also, my dad wrote 5 books (musician/band biographies and a book about astronauts) in the '80s and early '90s. The pseudonym he chose was Chris Crocker. He tells me he chose it because his first book was about Cyndi Lauper and he wanted to choose a name that could be used for both genders (although his name is now used for girls as well, it wasn't so much at the time). He has a friend who also wrote at the same time and used Martin Huxley (same type of book) as his pen name.

22
By PhilippaThe First (not verified)
September 3, 2009 3:02 PM

As an English student in college, a fellow student writer pointed out to me that Danielle Steele is the perfect romance pen name. It's French and lacy and bold and dashing all at the same time. Maybe more suited to a character (or two, couldn't you picture Nurse Danielle and Dr Steele working at Harlequin General Hospital?) than an author, if we want authors to be cozy and trustworthy. No Ann Carroll/ Diane Scott/ Susan Jackson here!

23
By Manda (not verified)
September 3, 2009 3:11 PM

Besides its proliferation on the drag queen scene (Amanda Love, Amanda Kiss) could Amanda be adapted to a romance novel? I didn't think so :)

My primary reason in posting is to beg for baby name help from your readers in naming a baby. You should set up a forum- or am I missing it. Your book helped name my first three children: twin girls: Ada and Aleah, singleton Willa, but we are stuck on a boys name. I've been stalking the local bookstore for the newest copy of your book, but no such luck. (the current version has been committed to memory) I have several months (Not due until Jan), so if I can't find it before then locally, I'll be forced to order one.

We have several contenders, but no real decision or what could even be close to a commitment. Babies first name will be William, but he won't be called this. We thought Willa would be our last so she became the generational recipient of the name Willa. Having had grown up Amanda and Jason, we're pretty set that the baby not have a name that is too popular, so we reject anything in the top 100. Although of our other children's names end with the same sound, we're not sticking with this for this child. We are considering Micah, but it's yet another casualty in the gender baby name war. It might be easier to name a boy if moms of girls quit stealing all of them. We don't want a name that can be mistaken for feminine. We want it to sound masculine. Some of the names we have considered are:

Micah (as mentioned)
Lee
Justus
Holden
Garreth
Cael
Zion

We're stumped! Thanks for any replies.

24
By Qwen
September 3, 2009 3:22 PM

Great topic. Though I'm still shaking my head over the title of the example book, I was really hoping Laura made that up. I did know that a lot of romance writers and chic lit practitioners (Sophie Kinsella, anyone?) used pen names but I’d never really considered the equation for making a good one.

I think you’re on to something with the initials in fantasy Linnaeus: JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, L. Frank Baum, HP Lovecraft, DJ MacHale… etc.

It's funny that the topic of pseudonyms comes up here though as it’s been debated in our household a lot lately. I just finished my first draft of the children's book I started last year. I originally wrote it just for our family but after events made that less necessary I've had a lot of encouragement to either print it myself or to send it off to companies in hopes of getting published. Anyway, my husband was teasing me the other day about how Qwen Patterson would be a renowned children’s author soon. After rolling my eyes at his silliness I turned serious. I know you’ve all heard me complain about my first name, so you can imagine the rants my husband has heard, but I was surprised he assumed I’d be printing under my nn and even more surprised that he thought I’d print under my maiden name (definitely not).

So ever since we’ve been debating the pros and cons of a pen name. I’m half tempted, mostly because I think it would be fun to have an alter ego (is my comic book geekiness showing?!) and in children’s lit I feel the silly and outrageous would be completely acceptable. What do you guys think?

25
By Qwen
September 3, 2009 3:27 PM

Also...

@Mrs. D - Congratulations. I love the name Imogene Mae. I giggled a little when you said it came to you while pushing, a NE to the end!

@Manda - Congratulations to you as well. I'm a little confused about your son's name though. His fn will be William but he's going to go by his mn - which are the options you gave us? In which case, I think William Micah has an odd flow to it. I can't even pinpoint why. I do like William Garreth and William Cael though.

26
September 3, 2009 3:58 PM

Manda:

For unmistakeably masculine, I'd recommend hard consonant sounds, especially at the end of syllables and names. It's hard to see Robert or Marcus being turned into girls' names.

Garreth is good. Garrett is similar and worth considering. Similar to Holden is Holger. I'd personally avoid Lee because that has crossed gender lines and back a few times.

Here's a few others:

Guy
Tycho
Marek
Armand
Seth
Hiram

Do any of these sounds work for you?

27
September 3, 2009 3:59 PM

Thanks for the comments so far! Another question, are the -sa endings too repetive with Louisa Mariposa? And is Felicity Mariposa just too much since it would mean "Happy Butterfly"?

28
September 3, 2009 4:06 PM

@ Manda: Of your choices for your son (congrats by the way) I like William Justus, William Holden, William Garreth. How is Cael pronounced? Like Cale? I like it like that, but I'm not sure how it's pronounced.

29
September 3, 2009 4:07 PM

lysis,
i prefer felicity mariposa, though the "happy butterfly" thing made me chuckle. i wouldn't worry about it too much though--i don't think that would be noticed by many people. i didn't think of it until you pointed it out. oh, and i do really like your idea of mariposa. i would not be afraid to use it. i do not love the matching endings of louisa mariposa (plus, i just prefer felicity as a name). it's your choice though, obviously!

linnaeus,
no bashing!--i don't want to offend anyone. just wanted to make sure you were aware. :] p.s. tycho is an interesting name.

30
By Betsy (not verified)
September 3, 2009 4:15 PM

I've heard that when you are trying to break into a literary market, it is wise to pick a pseudo-surname that will place you near best-selling authors. Fantasy writers might want to pick a surname that starts with "Ro" or "To" so that Rowling or Tolkein fans will stumble on their books. I don't know the surnames of any romance writers, but your friend may want to give the shelf placement of her books some thought when she picks a surname.

31
September 3, 2009 4:16 PM

Louisa Mariposa: There's enough syllables between the two that I don't see a problem.

Felicity Mariposa: No problem again. Most names can have odd meanings when taken together. Madison means "Matthew's son." Sierra means "Saw." Felicity Mariposa is just fine.

32
By Anna (not verified)
September 3, 2009 4:26 PM

Just a thought - what is the ideal pen name for an author of a baby name book!?

First: Normal, neutral name that doesn't offend anybody... Laura?
Last: Something with substance, still easy to spell, must sound convincing with 'professor' in front of it... Wattenberg?

I'm just sayin'... ;-)

33
By Jody not logged in (not verified)
September 3, 2009 4:32 PM

I love this topic. I write erotica for different audiences and have had great fun over the years with names. My first story I was stupid enough to publish with my real name in a book - and I've not lived it down.

Then I went onto using my middle name and my stepfathers last name for a while. Louise Kingt0n. Then shortened to L0u K for a certain audience and then hated that.

Then got a book contract for a very steamy kinda pulp adventure and so decided I wanted a crazy first name and a boring last night because for some reason I thought I'd seen a fair amount of naming like that for characters etc. And thus Tec0pa Smith was born. Tec0pa being a small place in California I wrote a little of the book in.

34
September 3, 2009 4:33 PM

@ Lysis: I personally like Felicity Mariposa and don't think anyone will notice the meaning or think it's odd. I like Louisa Mariposa and I don't think it will be an issue because people seldom use their mn. I just think Felicity flows best with the whole name.

35
By NAR (not verified)
September 3, 2009 4:55 PM

A few thoughts:

Romantic pen names for romance authors: her name is actually Danielle Steel (no E at the end), and that's a real last name!

Awesome pen name of a children's author: Lemony Snicket (for Daniel Handler), author of the Series of Unfortunate Events

Mariposa: I don't think it's common slang for male homosexual, but it could be derived from the very common "maricon"
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=maricon

36
By jap (not verified)
September 3, 2009 5:12 PM

To the mom considering the name Mariposa: Hope this doesn't bum you out, but a Barbie movie called Mariposa came out in 2008, she is a butterfly fairy who saves her world from destruction, so at least she's a strong and good character, but you might hear, "Oh, like the Barbie movie?" from some people if you choose that name. On the other hand, your daughter might someday enjoy that there's a movie character and a doll named after her! I think Mattel is actually making a series of these movies starring the Mariposa character. I knew a mom who was determined to name her daughter a four-syllable name starting with the letter M (this was her starting point) and they came up with Mariana.

37
September 3, 2009 7:29 PM

"Just a thought - what is the ideal pen name for an author of a baby name book!?

First: Normal, neutral name that doesn't offend anybody... Laura?
Last: Something with substance, still easy to spell, must sound convincing with 'professor' in front of it... Wattenberg?"

Ack, foiled! OK, I'll confess: my true name is...Cressida Bramley.

(Honestly, if I could pick I'd be closer to the top of the alphabet.)

38
By Qwen
September 3, 2009 8:21 PM

Has anyone met a Cressida in real life? It reminds me of watercress sandwichess.

39
By knp (not verified)
September 3, 2009 8:24 PM

But Laura, since the baby name section is so small, it is mostly covers that attract me. And your cover is so cute! :)

I agree in the fiction (or the sci fi or the mystery section etc), being near a famous, best selling author of books SIMILAR to yours helps. I know I've read authors of historical fiction authors near Plaidy, and found Tana French's book because they were near Ariana Franklin's books in the Mystery section.

40
By Jill K. Q. (not verified)
September 3, 2009 8:32 PM

Once upon a time (how's that for a beginning), the romance publisher Harlequin required that all their authors take pen names and that Harlequin would retain rights to the name.
I believe this was with an eye on controlling their careers and keeping the authors from going with another publishing house when they were successful. I know Harlequin dropped the practice years ago, but many romance authors are still out and writing under those pen names that were originally forced upon them.
I'm an aspiring romance writer as well and I'm interested in a pen name b/c there is already a famous romance author with a name very close to mine. Oddly enough her writing name is not her real name! Strange world, good luck to your friend.

41
By Manda (not verified)
September 3, 2009 9:34 PM

Cael = Cale = Kale = cabbage (which Laura points out in her book). William Micah does have an odd flow. I really like Marek. Hubby suggested Maverick, so it might be a contender. We like Justus, but more and more parents are using Justice (similar sound but different) for girls.

Thank you all so much for the suggestions. It is very much appreciated.

42
September 3, 2009 10:08 PM

Laura-what a wonderfully fun topic! I have always noted authors names just as a "hmm, I wonder if that is their real name". Then when I worked in the bookstore (*wink at Anne with an E), I learned some of the pen names of authors. I also learned that some have multiple names based on different genres.

Linnaeus, the initial thing is quite observant. I don't read Harlequin's but am particularly thinking of Nora Roberts as a fiction writer. She uses J.D. Robb as a mystery writer. Jayne Ann Krentz also writes romance and uses Jayne Castle for her more futuristic romance novels. There are many others that I can't think of right now.

Anna-Your comment about Laura's name was too funny, but you are spot-on!

Lysis-I think Mariposa works with either Felicity or Louisa and is a lovely name. I would take the "Barbie" movie into consideration though.

Manda-Interesting predicament you have with your names. Ada, Aleah, and Willa, and William ??. I know an Aleah and her brothers name is Noah. Is that too matchy for you? I like Holden and Gareth too. Maybe Griffin would work as a name not soon to be taken by girls. William Griffin sounds manly to me.

Betsy-Interesting theory!
Jody-Neat story!
Mrs D-Congrats!
Qwen-I like the idea of you using Qwen. It's unique. Good luck!

Sorry for the length, and sorry if I missed responding to anything.

43
By Elaine (not verified)
September 3, 2009 10:34 PM

Mrs D-

Congrats on your baby girl! I really, really like the name and have tossed Imogene and Imogen around for quite a while. I also like Mae quite a bit. For our next daughter (due Nov) we're using Fae as a mn to honor my grandmother.

How exactly are you pronouncing Imogene? I have found it pronounced a variety of ways.

44
By Joni
September 3, 2009 10:51 PM

Interesting topic! Especially since I am currently reading "A Series of Unfortunate Events". I've been wondering about the author's name - Lemony Snickets. I haven't gone to look it up though as I am trying to avoid spoilers. There is a disadvantage to reading the books that everyone else has already read... :)

45
September 3, 2009 10:54 PM

lemony snicket! love those books. possibly the best pseudonym of all time.

46
By Bue (not verified)
September 4, 2009 7:12 AM

When I was a kid we'd always play the 'pen name game' - your pen name was your middle name plus the street you grew up on. Mine is Ruth Byron. It makes me want to write crime novels!

Qwen - I know two Cressidas (both English). One was a rather posh girl I worked with at a publishing house and the other is one of my best friends. It's her middle name - I do love to tease her about it!

47
September 4, 2009 9:09 AM

haha. bue, by that rule, my pen name is...
rae 575 north
i think i'll have to take a different route...

48
By knp (not verified)
September 4, 2009 9:29 AM

Mine would be Nicole Shimerda. (that is actually a last name of a founder of the town).

49
September 4, 2009 10:28 AM

Mine would be Jayne Lakeside. Not too bad?

I went to bed last night thinking of
Carley Fisher as a good name for a children's author. A quick search yeilds a few people with that name already on Facebook but I'm not sure if any are authors.

50
September 4, 2009 10:56 AM

@knp -- ooh, I love Ariana Franklin! Not so much a fan of Tana French though, I loved most of In the Woods but I hated the end so much it kind of destroyed it for me...

I think gender plays a big part in picking scifi and romance pseudonyms too...because there are very few male writers in romance and very few female writers in "traditional" sci-fi. (Obviously young adult and more modern fantasy are different). The only 2 male romance authors I can think of are Hunter Morgan and Leigh Greenwood, both of which have androgynous first names.

I think that's why a lot of women sci-fi writers use initials or male sounding first names, such as CJ Cherryh, Andre Norton, and the aforementioned JK Rowling.

Then there are couples/pairs who write together -- husband Michael and wife Judith write romance names under the name Judith Michael, sisters Pamela and Mary write mysteries under the name Perri O'Shaughnessy...