I am still getting to grips with this Twitter thing (not being naturally gifted at brevity) but it has just thrown up a very interesting article about pen names, so maybe it's a good idea to persevere with it.
Pen names have always interested me. Imagine going to all the effort of writing a book, and overcoming all the hurdles involved in getting it published, and seeing it on the shelf, in a proper bookshop, all full of pages and everything.
And that bitch you hated in school won't even know if she sees it?
Obviously, I never hated anyone in school. I was a charming and lovely teenager (ahem).
I do wonder why people decide to publish under a pseudonym. Apart from enabling genre-hopping, or distancing your author persona from yourself if you are well-known in another field, I don't quite get it. I'd fancy the recognition.
Maybe it's a hangover from having an uncommon last name. I can never pretend to be another Ellen Brickley. If someone spots my name and says 'Didn't you live/study/work in _________?' I really can't get away with saying that I didn't. I don't mind, because it means people can get back in touch with me very easily - but it does make me very conscious of name-recognition, and particularly how names can stick in people's heads.
That said, if I had a very common name, I might consider a pen name. I recently tried to Google a feature writer who has published pieces in a few Irish newspapers, and both of her names were quite common (I hate saying common. I prefer popular). Even specifying Ireland, she was hard to find. It didn't help that some of her namesakes worked in related professions.
And then there's blogging, and tweeting, and profile-building. . . all of which may have to be done under a pen name if you intend using one.
And how do you choose one? I have a hard enough time naming characters. How on earth do you name yourself?