With all due respect to Anna (aka Benjamin), the porn name formula by which I have always sworn is name of first pet + name of the street you grew up on. My name, by the way, would be Mumpsy Avonside. Sexy, huh? Okay, second pet: Fluffy. This works much better. Phew! There’s also a romance novelist name formula I’ve heard of – your middle name + your mother’s maiden name. That would make me Ann Howard – which I think works, although I’d probably make it Anne. Actually, when I used to have running away fantasies as a youngster, I always imagined this as the name I would use to start my other life. Clean slate and all that. For a while, to test it out, I started signing journal entries A.H.
There’s a wonderful traditional Scottish song called “Jenny Nettles” – Jenny is abandoned by her love and hangs herself and is then buried in an unmarked grave. I always thought her name would make a great pseudonym. I can’t really bear being called Jenny (my brother has called me Jenny to torment me all my life, and he’s the only one who can get away with it…) but maybe this would be a way to embrace my “Jenny-ness” which might just be doable when combined with the prickly, wounding Nettles. Ever touched stinging nettles? If you had, you’d remember. It’s a wonderfully nasty plant.
My partner Drea (porn name: Bunky Aztec; romance novelist name: Katherine Taylor) and I once started co-writing an amateur sleuth mystery. I think we spent more time dreaming up the pseudonym than actually writing the book. The name we came up with: Ida Harp. (I notice the meter is very similar to “Mia King”!) We got about halfway through the book. I re-read it recently. It’s actually pretty good. So who knows… maybe one day Ida Harp will be making an appearance in a bookstore near you.
I think it would be interesting to write something under a man’s name – a manly sounding man. Brent. Dirk. Jackson. And for a last name… something solid that screams testosterone: Steel, Burns, Cave … What would Brent Steel write? Surely not the same sort of thing Jennifer McMahon turns out. I imagine something with a noir feel – fast cars, fast women, lots of cigarette smoke. This could be fun. If I ever hit the wall with my own work, maybe I’ll try becoming Brent Steel for awhile.
And on the subject of gender bending … I’ve read that there are a decent number of men writing romance using female pen names. I love this. I wonder if they are “out” about it to their friends?
But you know what? The fact is, at the end of the day, writing is tough work. Some days, I struggle to get even a page done. And damn it, I want credit for what’s on that page, and there’s no pressing reason to use another name. So I don’t think I’ll be opting for a nom de plume anytime soon.