What’s in a Name? {Pseudonyms, Pen Names & Nom de Plumes}

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet” ~ William Shakespeare

pseu·do·nym | noun |ˈsoōdn-im| a fictitious name
* Geisel was best known by the pseudonym ‘Dr. Seuss’

* Synonyms & related words: pen name, nom de plume, assumed name, false name, alias, professional name, sobriquet, stage name, nom de guerre.

* ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from French pseudonyme, from Greek pseudōnymos, from pseudēs ‘false’ + onoma ‘name.’

I have always been a bit confused by the reasons behind a pseudonym.  But, then I realized I have several myself.  We all do, probably.  We have screen names and avatars for different sites scattered around the WWW.  Hopefully not for any nefarious reasons, but sometimes it’s nice to go unnoticed by those who know you best.

During my search for not only which authors use a pseudonym, but the reasons for them, I found several interesting articles and a YouTube video that helped clear up my confusion.  The first article I found, 9 Reasons Why You Should Use a Pseudonym, was written by Carmela for the Huffington Post.  It showed some of the more odd reasons an author would use a pseudonym such as when William Sydney Porter was released from prison in 1901 and wanted to reinvent himself or Fernando Pessoa, who apparently had multiple personalities and wrote under 70 different names.

Nah, make fun, but that's typically NOT the reason

There were others, but the one that really helped clarify it for me was the YouTube video discussion between Brian Felsen of BookBaby and author Jennifer Ashley at the 2011 Romantic Times Convention.  Jennifer explains her reasons for writing under four different names {Jennifer Ashley, which is her real name, Allyson James, Allison Gardner, and Laurien Gardner}.  It started when she was trying to get published.  She was submitting different stories, in different genres, to different publishing houses.  Two houses wanted to publish her writing, but they asked her to use two different names –

hence the creation of her first two pseudonyms.  She explains that the differences in her writing styles {POV, tone, and genre} were good reasons for the different names.  It was a way for fans to distinguish between the different types of writing and therefore know what to expect from her books {under each name}.  When she decided to write some spicier, erotic novels, she felt the use of a pseudonym offered her some protection and anonymity in case she wasn’t any good at it.

The way in which Jennifer explained it helped me better understand why an author may choose a pseudonym.  It’s a way for authors to establish different writing styles within different genres without confusing their fans.  It’s a way to be carefree when you write about steamy, hot sex without worrying about offending the family, your friends, or fan base.  I’d love to hear from authors about why they chose their pseudonym(s), if you’d like to share.  🙂

Additionally, I found some good reference sites when trying to hunt down who’s who.  Sometimes you may think you’ve found a new-to-you author, when in reality, it’s an author you’ve already been reading and following.  Here’s a list of some authors I follow and their pseudos, plus some websites to help you on your hunt.

Author Pseudos

Tessa Adams = Tracy Deebs = Tracy Wolff

Ann Aguirre = Ava Gray = Ellen Connor (with co-author, Carrie Lofty)

G.A. Aiken = Shelly Laurenston

Jennifer Ashley = Allyson James = Ashley Gardner = Laurien Gardner

Julie Kenner = J.K. Beck

Laura Bickle = Alayna Williams

Jessica Bird = J.R. Ward

Jayne Castle = Jayne Ann Krentz = Amanda Quick = Stephanie James

Maureen Child = Regan Hastings

Dawn Cook = Kim Harrison

Sydney Croft = Larissa Ione & Stephanie Tyler

Kristina Douglas = Anne Stuart

Mira Grant = Seanan McGuire

Sherrilyn Kenyon = Kinley MacGregor

Jill Myles = Jessica Sims

Savannah Russe = Lucy Finn

And, my favorite writing duo, husband and wife team, Ilona & Gordon make up Ilona Andrews

There are many, many more.  Here are some links to sites that can help ya out:  A-Z Pseudonyms | Mystical Unicorn’s Pseudo List | Wikipedia’s List


About StephB

USMC wife ~ bibliophile ~ gadget addict ~ furry baby mama

Posted on October 16, 2011, in Random Musings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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