Sunday – the final day of WFC.
The first panel of the day was “By Any Other Name: What Makes an Author Change Their Byline?” which was confusing as I’d never heard the word “byline” before. Thankfully, the blurb made it clear that it meant “pen name” and as I have one, I figured I may as well attend.
Panellists were: Janine Ashbless [Keris McDonald], Shannon Drake [Heather Graham], Jude Fisher [Jane Johnson], Daniel Fox [Chaz Brenchley], Robb Hobb [Megan Lindholm], and Michael Marshall [Michael Marshall Smith].
– Firstly, it was discussed who each person was and a brief explanation of why they’d used a pen name. Answers varied from “I write in two genres” to “I write in first-person male perspectives, but am a woman”. For another, it’s a persona of courage – keeping a bit of distance between the author and their work.
– Throughout the panel, one author’s name was shuffled so much that one day, Michael Marshall will just be “M.” with a middle European accent and a limp. He said that he did once write using another pseudonym: Stephen King.
– Marketing reasons: Smaller names fit on the cover/spine of a book better, and if you pick a name with A or Z, you won’t be at “eye level” on a bookshelf.
– Some authors said their “other name” is just in their head and helps readers identify the genre – but others said this is a whole new personality that uses different words, sentence lengths and even knows more about certain topics perhaps.
– The final bit of advice was about practicality – make sure you have identification documents with your names on – for airports and bank-related things!
It was a bit early in the morning following a late night at an author party, but it was really good to hear some positive thoughts for the practise of author names; having chosen one myself.