Joyce Carol Oates writes under the nom de plumes Rae Jolene Smith and Fernandes and Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly. Stephen King has written under the name Richard Bachman. Rita Mae Brown writes as a cat named Sneak Pie Brown. By writing under an assumed name, you can hide yourself twice: Once as the character, and again as the fake writer. This allows for twice the eccentricies. Twice the distance between the real you and the page. What would be your dream nom de plume? Who would be that other you? Would you even be human? Let’s hear it.
By the way, Peter D, the Casket of Secrets went out to you today via UPS. Be very afraid.
So what's your other name you write under??????
I've considered going with Carl Harrison. Carl is a frequently used middle name in my family tree. And Harrison is my son's name.
The only reason I would use a pen name is that I own and operate an indie bookstore that has a more wholesome feel than the content I like to create with words.
Honestly my pen name would be Paul Crane because decades ago I had a musical dream in which that was my name. I can still sing the tune to “la la la laaah, Paul Crane. Paul CRAAAANNE dee dee dah dah…”
Honestly, mine is Remy Lazarus. I am never confident in my writing but it helps me to sort of separate the “real” me from the “writer” me. If there is ever any comment on what I write, it’s not about me, it’s about some guy named Remy.
I’d go with Wayland Still Smoking. I worked in client services a long time ago and got a woman on the line whose legal last name was Still Smoking. I didn’t ask her if she changed it, but when I asked her if it was really her last name she gave a resounding “yes” with a sigh.
Have you ever written under another name Chuck? If so, what was the purpose? I know Stephen King did it to see what people would think of his work without having his celebrity attached to it.
I write under the pen name Charlotte Dune, because I've directed and produced non-related films under my real name, and because as Charlotte Dune I write novels with sex and psychedelics and I don't want my daughter's middle school teacher googling my real name and finding my Ex-rated books! Haha
We were at an American Library Association conference and, naturally, they give out hundreds of free books so even though we try to be choosy we needed to ship some home. My husband decided on the spot to send the box to our dog, Maximus. He also made up a last name that is part mine (Shoemaker) and part his (McCurdy). So our package went to Maximus McMaker. I'd use that.
Not the same but i love when authors
has middle name letter like Philip K Dick, but i got three middle names including one that has two.
It'd be David JYCS Humbert
Wait, is this a riddle? If we figure out your other name by the clues we get a prize?????
Already got it. My real name is as conventional as Larry Suburban another nom de plume.
Im stating the obvious, but Occam S Raisor, or Hanlon S Raisor.
Now Im wondering what John's Razor would be? The simplest, most obvious answer is the funniest answer.
I just learned about Rage, a book that King wrote under Bachman about an abused teenager holding a class at gunpoint. He had the publishers stop printing it after columbine.
I see that you caught on to my act. I must admit I am surprised how long it took you. My name is not Strepatitis and I don’t always wear green thongs to the beach. I wonder what Chuck Palahnuik uses for his alias? Maybe he will inform the masses one day. And maybe one day I will do the same. Not today tho.
I thought about using my initials but that would be "CAJones" which is too close to "cojones" and would probably result in a totally different response to my writing than I would hope for.
That said, I've thought about it and may use Alan Richards or Mike Taylor. The first one because is my middle name and the americanizing of my mother's maiden name and the second one because it just sounds like an aggressively average name which would be better for darker work or skating to close to using real people/events in my work.
If I could use Marianne Faithfull, as legend has she was the person that the song I was named after was about, I would tho.......
I hadn't considered that I could write as a cat - I'd be down for that. Or maybe an extraterrestrial from Pluto - a Plutonian, if you will.
Name wise, I've considered using the name Rayne somehow - always liked it. 😊
As a ghost writer I am many people, many voices and many guises. Sometimes I want to be me.
I would totally write as my dog—- Sassy. She would have a lot to say and could be the gossip columnists to end all gossip columns. Maybe, a “Dear Sassy” section—- I have a feeling sleeping, going for rides and chewing on her new avocado toast toy (thank you, Chuck!) might be some great go-to answers for her readers. Lol. Going outside for a walk and naps seem to be the answer to everything!
Inspired by this Substack and the creative tasks, I have started a beginners writing course and I’m planning to do more! Though I do think a pen name would be much harder to think of than a plot. In a similar vein, I was always one to get stuck on the opening paragraph of an essay -
I’d always have to come back to that. At 34+ years old (and a surname swap from marriage) I feel like I’m finally comfortable with my own name so I’d be tempted to be dull and stick with that.
I sincerely do love "Cheap crass devil worshiper.' I feel like the readers would know exactly what they were getting and would love it. Lol
Sometimes, I think it's better to treat pennames like a very strong password; something complicated, hard to correlate. But then, it's no fun if people can't figure it out. If it were up to me, I'd probably just go with two initials and a cool-sounding surname. (Note: I have written under pseudonyms before, but not for original fiction.)
Paul Eszterhaz - that's my writing name, hopefully obscure enough that no one where I work will ever discover my fiction. I have this fear that if management were ever to discover my work and what I do for a hobby, I'd get a tap on the shoulder and asked to come into the conference room for a 'chat'...
Jay McShady. I’ve been told by friends that I have face that people shouldn’t trust. Figure I’ll lean into it now. If ever I was asked by a reader, “ is that your real name?” My response would be “No. I was born Derrick McShady, but who would ever read shit by that name. Derrick sounds like a guy who does your taxes. Jay McShady spills your secrets. Thanks for reading!”
I always wanted to be a micro dosed reporter from the seaweed laden ocean shore in Ca.
Probably its little too much for a pen name, but I have gone by Sepia Apocalypse before 😁
Seriously though, maybe not change the name but the spelling of name. Then I'd start a war with the other Carrie Ann about using my name even tho it's spelled differently just cuz I know the controversy will sell books. Winner winner chicken dinner for everyone.........
My middle name is Jay and the surname on my mother’s side of the family is Baird. My nom de plume was thus -- Jay Baird; a crumb trail of a nom de plume.
Barry King. A Parisian world traveler, in his late 50s. He studied in Europe and moved to the states to learn under the tutelage of the best American writers
Warren Jebediah DeFo
I’ve always loved the sound of Virgil West. A combination of a long-dead familial patriarch, and my mother’s maiden name. With a name like that I’d have to leave behind a few westerns though. Yeehaw.
I’m gonna start something -- is Thomas Pynchon a nom de plume? Is it one person? Is it even a person?
Rabbi being the latest nickname people gave me. It has a nice ring to it. Iblis was my old teenage one, which is another name of the devil. So, Rabbi-Satan/Iblis. Come to think of it, very convenient for the contradictory elements that shape the 21st century Moroccan-Muslim spirit. On Friday noon he's Mother Teresa at the Mosque, and next two nights he's wreaking havoc at police stations, brothels and bars.
Maybes you’ve read my academic work: Metaphor in the Norse Sagas by Skäld Kennings.
George Stark. If you know, you know.
I considered Jack Slade. My actual name is too hard to spell, plus nobody pronounces it correctly. Also, I like the simplicity. It sounds hard-edged and no-nonsense to me, which is how I try to write.
I had to look up "nom de plumes." Now I feel stupid. I guess I'd use Nothingman as a pen name.
Indie Wood Pecker is my nom de plume. A kawaii doll with an independent streak and the superpower to hammer at a good story till she gets it right. Here's a little food for thought.
Growing up, my momma never let me play with dolls. She forced me to put on a starched, white gee and learn Shotokan karate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening from 6 pm to 8 pm. I loved to play with dolls and soft toys. She hated girls who liked to play with dolls and thought they should toughen up and learn self defence instead.
I loved to listen to stories too. She never told me any bedtime story either. My daddy was good at that. Once, he bought me a pretty barbie when I was 5, she didn't talk to him for a week. He never wasted any money on a present for me ever again.
Why is it that this post and all the responses all sound like confessions? Everyone in their own little constructed churches. I love how everyone is hiding.
And given the choice, I certainly wouldn't write as a human.
I’ve seriously considered a pen name, but haven’t found the right one yet. All that ever pops into my head are Ben Dover and the like. No wonder I got matched with -this guy- (see link) during high school matchmaker 😁😆😆
As well as publishing under my own name I publish horror short stories as Rue
Karney. Writing as Rue gives a whole different approach to how I write. She is more out there & less afraid…though the older I get the more similar we become! I chose Rue because it’s a derivative of my nickname (Ree) and Karney comes from Carnivale (as in the carnivale writing tradition that goes back to Rabelais) & “carney”, the slang word for people who work on the sideshow circuit. Rue is my more fun, evil twin!
I wouldn't have a nom de plume. If anything it would be reversed. The congealed thoughts, ideas, and intangible conections are subdued under normal pretense and names. I would be the alter, the non identifying portion of construct. What is said in everyday life is the facade. The security of abandoning one name vs the other is almost equal. Which one will stand to be your identifing front? Which one is molding the ablity to revoke fears and exspell congealed thoughts? My answer is simple, I dont fucking know.
I always get called Denise when I make drink orders and I just go with it. I joke that Denise is my Shadow Link. My other self. Maybe that would make a good one. Denise....Denise Verus.
Middle name, First name initial, Middle name again with a flourish tacked on... a bit in the vein of poet William Carlos Williams blend with O. Henry. So maybe Stephen King becomes Edwin S Edwards. Maybe Joyce Carol Oates becomes Carol J Karlson. There is some reality and recognition there, but a definite shield behind which the eccentrics can do their best work.
It might be a fun exercise in any workshop to have the writers name each other. Then each writer must write in the persona assigned to them by the suggestion of the new name.
One of my favorite scifi pulp authors Jack McKinney was a pseudonym used by American authors James Luceno and Brian Daley. So it seems like you can work together with someone else under one name. My substack name is something Chuck Palahniuk signed in a book for me. I like using assumed names because my real name is very searchable. That way I can insulate my normal identity from whatever I want to write. I can push boundaries with a little more comfort with less impact to my 9 to 5.