Whooooo are You? Who-Who, Who-Who?

Masks, by Richard Dudley of Pyrmont, NSW, Australia

Thanks to World Literary Cafe’s “share the love” program, I’m getting to know a lot of authors on Facebook. Some are newly published, some have multiple books under their belts. I’d say 99.5% of them are interesting as people, as writers, as craftspeople.

I’ve noticed something, though. Most of my friends who are authors and a great many of the new writers I’m getting to know use pen names. In the past couple of months, I’ve seen more AKAs than a typesetter in the wanted poster printing office.

Now, I’m not good with names under the best conditions, and that’s when the people I want to remember only use one name. Trying to remember real names as well as pen names makes me dizzy.

One or two authors I know had to switch to pen names after a bad experience with a traditional publishing house. Some use a different pen name for each of the different series novels they produce, while two that I know of use one pen name for books in one genre, like mystery, and another pen name for books they write in a different genre, like romance.  I envy them their prolificity (is that a word?), but I think I’ve asked one of my friends at least a dozen times what their pen name is.  That feels disrespectful to me, but it’s an honest-to-God flaw in my brain. No offense meant, my friends.

Using a nom de plume may be a safety consideration for some writers. Who needs stalkers and cyberbullies making life harder? Sadly, modern society, both real and online, can not be counted on to be civil or well-behaved.

There’s nothing wrong with pen names. Authors have used them for centuries. I may use one, myself, when I get around to publishing Dying to Meet You, which is a mystery and nothing like Memory’s Child.

If I adopt a pen name or two, I  just hope I can still remember my real name.


3 responses to “Whooooo are You? Who-Who, Who-Who?

  1. I don’t think I will ever use a pen name, especially now that I’m published. My name has shrank considerably over the years, however — from Michael James Allegra, to Michael J. Allegra, to Michael Allegra (sans “J”), and now Mike Allegra.

    It’s a trend, apparently. In a few years you’ll be welcome to call me “MA”.

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