What’s in a Name?

by C. Margery Kempe

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Throughout history, writers have often hidden behind pseudonyms. For some, it was a necessity, for others, a playful sense of fun, like Flann O’Brien AKA Miles naGopaleen but really Brian O’Nolan. Sometimes it was even a political statement, as in noms de guerre. Of course it can also be a way to not take credit: in Hollywood the official designation to ‘credi’t a film for which no one feels responsible is Alan Smithee. Artists, too, have used pseudonyms like Caravaggio, Balthus and El Greco.

Most people are familiar with noms de plume used to hide gender, like George Eliot and George Sand who found it easier at least initially to get published with a man’s name. Other writers went for the short and enigmatic, like Æ and Saki, or ‘normalised’ names they thought too exotic for the mainstream — or too Jewish for a potentially anti-semitic public. Thus Allen Koenigsberg became Woody Allen.

There’s a long history of noms de plume in romance. Even if you aren’t as racy as Pauline Reáge writing The Story of O, there are many reasons to go with a pseudonym. For those of us who write at different heat levels, it’s handy to have a sexy pseudonym (C. Margery Kempe) and a sweet or  at least non-sex ual pseudonym (Kit Marlowe). This has worked well for me, clearly labeling my romance writing for reader interests.

But recently I had difficulty choosing which name to use; not because of heat level, but because of genre. The lovely Kem at Tirgearr Publishing snapped up my sexy thriller Chastity Flame when it became available to relaunch as a series. I’m really happy about that because I had such fun writing that book and its sequel, Lush Situation. But I’ve also been moving into the mystery/crime/thriller genre under my own name (K. A. Laity) so I faced a dilemma: who should be listed as author? Both names have publications out or forthcoming with Tirgearr, so Kem said it was up to me. I hemmed and hawed a bit and then went with my given name as I already have a foot well placed in that genre.

So let me unveil the new cover design that will carry through the trilogy. The first book has the threat of a computer virus, so the fabulous S. L. Johnson worked that into the image. Great stuff!


About C. Margery Kempe

A writer of erotic romance: see my website, www.cmkempe.com for a taste of my work including free stories, book trailers and more.
This entry was posted in C. Margery Kempe, contemporary romance, erotic romance, Kit Marlowe, Marketing, romance, Romance suspense, What inspires you?, Writer's Life, Writing Topics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to What’s in a Name?

  1. I’ve toyed with the idea of a pen name, but didn’t do it. In this day and age of internet and stalkers … maybe I should have. Like you, I’m not too worried about the heat level – I’m more concerned that someone will show up at my door. But then again … UPS (who has my address) can’t even find my house!

    • cmkempe says:

      I’ve never much worried about the stalker issue, I guess. It was always just branding for me. One of the problems for my own writing career has been flitting from genre to genre, so Kit and CMK have been better at carving out an audience.

  2. Trouble is in this day and age of the internet, they’ll find you even with a pen name.

  3. Gerri Bowen says:

    That cover is great. One that keeps your eyes looking to see all there is.

  4. cmkempe says:

    Reblogged this on C. Margery Kempe and commented:

    A reposting of my NoP blog on why Chas has switched ‘authors’ (well, names!).

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