Exploring the Pen Name
With Guest Blogger and Author Lisa Logan
(During the month of June, here at Today the Dragon Wins we explore the use of pseudonyms. Don't forget to participate in the discussion in the comment field to enter the contest for a copy of the eBook version of Choices Meant for Gods. Details were posted June 1.)
What's in a (Pen) Name?
There are writers born with endless talent, the ability to schmooze the most dour publisher with grace, and a commanding name that begs to be set in raised lettering on the cover of a bestseller. An author's name. Stephen King...and so he is.
As a child I wasn't wild about my name...any of them. Mother had the fun idea of giving me her first name (a stage name, incidentally), but calling me by my middle name to avoid confusion. Teachers were confused, scowling in disapproval when corrected. Classmates snickered. My first name became a point of immediate, annoying contention.
My middle name fared little better. Kids devised synonyms, generally involving the word “smell.” Worse, I could never find personalized drink mugs or jewelry with my name on them. My last name? Short and easy to pronounce—often in a mocking singsong involving underpants. Add that to “smell” and...you get the idea. Stephen King it wasn't.
When writing grew from an idea to full-blown passion, the question of name came about. By then I'd married, and my last name was no longer short and easy to turn into an underpants ditty. It contained over ten letters and was impossible to pronounce. How could folks ask for my book if they couldn't spit out the name? Besides, nothing short of a coffee table book could fit the name, anyway. Not the stuff author dreams are made of.
With a twinge of guilt that my husband's name was such a bone of career contention, I sought an answer close to home. His nickname was “Logan,” which he credits from time to time in stage use. Short, simple to remember, and smack in the middle of the alphabet. I'd heard this was advantageous, as fiction is shelved by last name and shoppers tend to wander to the middle of a row to browse.
Then came that pesky middle name. Oh, I'd come to like it well enough...and there's a well-known author by the same name. But Janell Logan just didn't strike like Stephen King, where the syllables roll in a pleasing, “I Need This Author's Book Now” manner. Several variations followed, employing kids' names, my nickname (Jade), etc. None had the It factor I sought.
But wait...what about that other name? The thorn in a teacher's side that I'd stopped correcting, thus answered to in college? Lisa Logan. Ah. Now that rolled.
Whether awkward names matter I've no idea...after all, Theodore Geisel turned his middle name, Seuss, into literary gold. Still, I'm certain readers won't miss the loss of seven letters. I'd rather spend my time writing a title, not signing my name in it...and my books easily fit both my name and overhead storage compartments. That's the stuff author dreams are made of.
Lisa Logan is the author of two novels and the editor of MysteryAuthors.com and for Eternal Press. Visit her at http://lisalogan.net.
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."