12 Jan 2012

Pen names ... To Use or Not To Use?

Is it a throwback to when we were kids and wanted to be someone else (I know some people who still want to be someone else), or is it because our real names never seem to have the panache that celebrity names have (we all know most of those are made up anyway)?
Maybe they provide an outlet for our alter ego, or give us access to a life we don’t believe we can live. Whatever it is, and whatever they are, the use of a pen name/pseudonym is very much a personal choice.

Here are some celebrity names I bet you didn’t know ...
Kim Cattrall – Clare Woodgate
Tom Cruise – Thomas Mapother IV
Susan Sarandon – Susan Tomaling
Bob Dylan – Robert Zimmerman
Axl Rose – William Bailey
Pink – Alecia Moore

As a teenager, I would match my first name with the surname of a guy I was mad about; just to see how it would look if we ever got married. I'd practice my signature as Mrs Whoever for hours at a time (sad, I know!).

There were a few bog standard formulae you could use to choose another name:
  • take the name of your first dog, and the name of the nearest river, e.g. Spotty Storms
  • take the name of your mother's mother and the street in which you live, e.g. Ethelrude Station
  • take your middle name and the name of your house, e.g. Marion Phoenix
The last one was a pen name I used for the entire time Deadly Obsession was a working manuscript. I even had a book cover made with the name of Marion Phoenix, and the final published version almost went out with this cover!

My agent back at the beginning made me laugh when she said, “What happens if you’re on a television interview and someone refers to you as Marion and you don’t recognise your (pseudo) name?”
Hey, if I was on a television interview I don’t think I’d care at that stage!

Just before I hit publish on Amazon, I thought, why? Why can’t I just be me? So I jumped in boots and all with my real name.

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