What’s in a name?

That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet…

Today at Janet Reid’s blog, they’re talking about pseudonyms. The discussion was brought on by a particular case in which a man published poetry under a pseudonym that was deliberately chosen to sound Asian (the man is white). Sherman Alexie, one of my faves, writes about the situation here, in case you’re interested in more info.

So, the commentariat at Janet’s place are now discussing the issue, but from the perspective of writers seeking representation: should you use a pseudonym? If so, should you tell your agent?

I was planning, actually, on setting this blog up and writing under the name M.P. Larkin. Much like J.K. Rowling, L.M. Montgomer, L.J. Smith, and, yes, okay, fine, E.L. James, I was going to do the lady-using-two-initials-to-maybe-pass-as-not-a-lady-but-maintaining-plausible-deniability thing. Recently one of the writers at Jezebel realized this might still be helpful in getting published, just like the Brontë sisters had do to…

It is not hand, nor foot / Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part / Belonging to a man… (insert suggestive eyebrow wiggles here)

Then the URL mplarkin.com was taken. 🙁

So, what the heck: Peggy Larkin is sort of a pseudonym anyway, considering that legally I’m one of the many Margarets that is called Peggy any time she’s not in trouble, under arrest, or being solicited by a telemarketer. (My phone company insists on calling me Margarat, actually, which I have found too amusing to correct. They cash Margarat’s checks just fine.)

But I sort of wonder. When I was at Bob Mayer’s Write on the River, we discussed it briefly; basically, it’s more trouble to write as more than one person, but if you write in many genera (like Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb) it might be worth it to differentiate. At IRWA’s Making Magic conference, Lani Diane Rich, who writes contemporary romance, had copies of her newest works, contemporary magical romance written as Lucy March. Since she’d switched to a new subgenre, she’s now two people.

My Lily Grant novel is YA science fiction “cli-fi,” as I recently discovered. I’ve also been working on a romantic suspense novel for about three years with a friend. I’ve ALSO got ideas for contemporary romance, a retelling of The Great Gatsby, and a new entry in whatever genre claims Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (I want to write A Room with a View of Werewolves, with appropriate apologies to E.M. Forster).

Obviously the first thing to do is finish something (anything!) and then, I suppose, in my optimist’s dreamworld, see what my agent and/or editor would advise.

But it’s strange to not know who you are!

2 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. I know this feeling! A friend of mine and I were hooked for years on the TV show Criminal Minds, which got us brainstorming a serial killer novel together, so we’ve actually written drafts of two serial killer novels–but my main genres are epic and modern fantasy! That would definitely confuse my readers, but I still want to do something with those novels.

    Also, I would totally read A Room With a View of Werewolves. 😀

    1. I SERIOUSLY WANT TO WRITE A ROOM WITH A VIEW OF WEREWOLVES. Then again, it’s possible that I only think it will be easier/more fun than my current WIP because I’m not currently working on it, haha.

      And I think teaming up on a serial-killer novel sounds awesome… but way different from epic/modern fantasy (STILL MAD THAT BRAXTON IS APPARENTLY NOT A WEREWOLF BTW).

      How do you and your friend manage the logistics of the team-up?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.