Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Should I use a pen name?

When I first started my writing career, I decided I didn't want to use my real name. It's a decision may authors make sometime during their career. I'm often asked
why don't you use your real name. As you ashamed of it?

Nope! I'm delighted with my name, my married name. I've had this name for almost fifty years, so it's more a part of me than my maiden name. (Every time I think about fifty years I gasp!) Okay, back to my reasons.

At the time I began writing, I was teaching high school in a very conservative school district and I thought perhaps my real name might not be a good idea. (Of course, I was wrong on that point, which I'll explain later.) But that was only a very small part of my decision.

My second reason was simple. Even my dear mother couldn't spell my last name correctly. She kept getting the vowels mixed up. My give name, Martha, just didn't sound the least bet romantic to me and I wanted to publish historical romance. I also gave a lot of thought to how my books with a pen name would be placed on a book shelf. Way back then, books were most often stacked by the author's last name, not by genre. I definitely wanted a pen name that would put me on the shelf between authors like Steven King and Johanna Linsdey.

Of course, when my first book was published, the cat was out of the back. My high school principle sent one of his secretaries to a book store where she bought a copy of the book and he asked me to sign the book at the next teacher's meeting. So much for hiding my idenity. An aside -- While I was teaching, I had the distinct pleasure, although in retrospect it really wasn't that much of a pleasure, of telling my students, "Put the book away!" and it was my book.

But, I digress. The last reason for choosing a pen name was a personal one. I felt I needed something that said plainly, I write historical romance. What better why to shout 'historical' than having a pen name 'Knight'. Or so I thought at the time.

I'd love to hear if you use your real name or a pen name and the reasons you chose the pen name.

Allison Knight

1 comment:

Evangeline Collins said...

I use a pen name, in fact two of them. One for the sensual m/f romances and one for the erotic m/m romances. As an author, your name is a brand and I didn't want readers to confuse the two types of books I write. As in, having someone who has read my Evangeline Collins book pick up an Ava March book, expecting a similar type of book, and going...are those 2 men kissing??? um...sweetie, they do way more than kiss in those books. lol So when I started writing erotic romances, I created a new pen name for them.

But beyond that, the primary reason for the pan names is day-job releated - I keep writing and the day job totally separate. I don't dislike my name and it's easy to spell, in fact my Berkley editor wanted me to use it, but I wanted to go with a pen name. And I like having a pen name - it's like having a secret identity. Pretty cool! When else does one get to choose her own name? ;)