Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's In A Pen Name?

What's in a name? A lot actually. 

Writers choose to use a pseudonym for multiple reasons. Here are few:

  1. Privacy: Having a pen name allows writers to go incognito. They avoid being tackled or stalked by fans and being recognized at the grocery. Sometimes authors change gender or chose pseudonyms that are gender neutral (especially in erotic fiction) to further their anonymity.
  2. Content: When you're writing controversial material, it's easier to absorb the backlash from angry readers when they can't attack you personally. Controversial content can't be linked to any other activities an author personally takes part in.
  3. Multiple Genres: Some authors use different names to associate with writing in more than one area. For example: writing erotica and children's fiction. These don't necessarily go together. A mother discovering her child's favorite book was written by someone who writes extreme sex scenes might spread negativity. 
  4. Say What?: My favorite book from childhood is called "Caps for Sale" written by Esphyr Slobokina. Enough said? This name is not a pseudonym.
  5. Multiple Authors: When one or more authors create a work together, it's sometimes easier to use one made up name rather than fight over whose name is listed first on the cover.
  6. Take Two: If an author hasn't been successful under their name, creating a new one can give them a fresh start
  7. Real Name Issues: Some authors may choose to write under a pen name because they find their real name too boring or common. 
  8. Legality: Some publishing contracts have an author sign over the right to their name or future works written under their name to their publisher. Creating a new name allows an author to explore other publishers with new works if they decide they wish to shop around.

But authors also choose a pseudonym that means something to them. People ask me all the time how "Angora Shade" came into creation.

My pen name comes from a  literal interpretation of the types of stories I like to create. "Angora" is soft, seductive, expensive, and quality. "Shade" is halfway to dark, a place of mysterious happenings, and sometimes dangerous to step into. It's also where you can cool off when you're too warm. The translation of "Shade" from German literally means "harm" or something like "too bad". Put all these things together and you've got either a soft, seductive mistress, or a pain-weilding dominatrix. Best of both words if you ask me!

What Other Erotic Authors Say About Their Names: 

Scarlett Knight:
The first part of my pen name, Scarlett, has a dual meaning: one, it represents the fact that I am a redhead, and two, it brings to mind the color of deep red, which is associated with passion. I put two t's on it just to be different.

Knight, the second half of my pen name, also has two meanings: it sounds, of course, like the word night, which is a time of day many associate with sexy rendezvous, and also brings to mind the sort of Arthurian Knight, which I associate with tales of romance and adventure.

Find Scarlett Knight on Twitter @knighterotica
Frank Noir:
I've been writing porn stories for several years under my real name. But when I started putting ebooks up for sale I felt I needed a bit of anonymity.
I'm a self-employed web developer and make my living that way. And I was worried that many of my clients would not feel comfortable working with a hardcore BDSM pornographer. So I preferred to keep that hidden to spare all of us the embarassment.

Instead of pretending to be a different real life character, I wanted the pen name that sounded like a pen name - even to the point of being slightly corny.

My stories are pretty graphic and rather dark (dealing mainly with dominance/submission themes) and I wanted the name to reflect that. "Frank" (as in "candid") was an obvious choice. And "Noir" plays on the dark themes - and refers to the elegance and menace of classic "film noir". Using a French surname plays on the cliché of the French being more sexy than other nationalities - and is also a tribute to one of my heroes, the French author/philosopher Marquis de Sade.

And of course, before choosing the name, I did quick searches on Google and Amazon to make sure there were no high-profile authors of the same name. There didn't seem to be.

Find Frank Noir on Twitter @TalesofLustXXX 

I've used a lot of pen names over the years but when I started writing erotica again in 2012 I wanted a fresh start which meant choosing a name unconnected to any I'd used in the past. Tricky. Especially when you consider that I struggle with choosing names for my characters, picking one for myself was a nightmare.

But I love birds, magpies especially. I couldn't very well call myself Mag Pie (that's the opposite of the feeling I wanted to evoke), and so I added an i to the word corvidae and Cori Vidae was born. Corvidae, like Cori Vidae, are mischievous, clever, and constantly on the lookout for shiny things. Most importantly though, it's been said that corvids fly between two worlds, and what is a pen name if not a way to do that as well?

Find Cori on Twitter @CoriVidae

Blue Spectrum:
For me, the blue spectrum represents my emotional spectrum - from the silly to the intense, everything my apathetic up bringing tried to destroy in me.

The creative writing is just a side effect of unlocking all my emotions.

As to why the colour blue - to extends into ultra-violet where as red regresses into infra-red. :)

Verity Rayne:
I selected my pen name so it would match the theme of my library - erotic romance involving physical transformations. I liked to imagine that, if such a thing were possible, who would be the kind of person in charge of causing those changes. I imagined the stories I'd produce would be ways for people to imagine their bodies going through these impossible and sensual changes. I then imagined a female scientist, possibly with a charming southern accent who would seduce applicants into giving her wares a try. A buxom beauty who would lure people into her laboratory, then masturbate while she watched the changes happened. And, if she ever thought one of them were going through any pain, she would soothe them with a kiss or a massage of their tortured bodies. I liked the name "Verity" for its refined feel to it, capturing the scientist angle of this character. Somehow, "Rayne" fit the name perfectly as a surname - I'm not entirely sure where it came from. But when that name came together, it just felt right. It felt fitting, and I liked how it tied-in with my transformation romances. At that point, it was the name I settled on, and I've used it ever since.

Find Verity Rayne on Twitter @VerityRayne
I've always been fascinated with Helen of Troy. A woman whose beauty was so great that she started one of the most famous wars in history! It seemed only natural that if I were to try and use my texty wiles to inspire the imaginations and libidos of the world, that I'd pay homage to a woman who set that world on fire. I write about a lot of people who do wild things with imaginary creatures, so it also made sense to pick something that came from a world of myths and legends, a person who might be real or might be a child of the Gods.

Find Helen Atreya on Twitter  @OfAtreya 

1 comment:

  1. Great post +Angora Shade. I love when you do these author roundup posts! And I love how much thought everyone seems to have put into their pen names, it reveals so much.