Pub Rants

When The Pseudonym Makes More Sense

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STATUS: It’s an okay morning. Got lots to do still so this rant will be short. A nice wrap up to the Name Game.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? LONG HOT SUMMER by The Style Council

One last story.

My author Kelly Parra is Latina/Asian (and if you visit her website and read her bio, you’ll discover that she’s actually Mexican-Filipino-Italian-American to be exact). And yes, you guessed it. Her last name is not “Parra.”

That is actually her mother’s maiden name.

Since she’s writing edgy Latina fiction (adult romantic suspense and young adult), we wanted a name to reflect her mixed heritage so readers would be able to identify her as a multi-cultural author who knows what she’s writing about.

You see. Kelly married a terrific guy with an Irish last name and she uses her married name in everyday life. That coupled with her first name Kelly made her sound full-blooded Irish and not even remotely Latina (and Irish is not even in the mix—except for her kids who are now Mexican-Filipino- Italian-Irish-American). Get the picture?

So, this was actually an occasion where a pseudonym made more sense and Kelly Parra was born.

Now, it wouldn’t really have been a big deal if she wanted to use her Irish married name. We just both agreed that connecting with readers was most important and since she’s writing Latina characters…why alienate readers who might make the misassumption that she didn’t have the heritage?

Besides, I don’t know about you, but I just love the look of the last name “Parra.” The double “r.” It even looks a little edgy on the page/cover and boy, does that really fit what she writes.

Tomorrow, off on a new rant so stay-tuned.

12 Responses

  1. Kalen Hughes said:

    I find the whole pen name thing fascinating. The whys, whats, etc.

    I chose to use one because my parents (wonderful hippies that they are) saddled me with a very unique first name that just doesn’t say, “Hi, I write engrossing historical romance. Pick this book up and buy it. You want to trust this author with your seven bucks.” Luckily they gave me a lovely middle name.

    No, my whole persona (name, tattoos, nose ring) really says, “Hey, I write hot paranormals.” but I don’t. *GRIN* My first RWA national convention was fun. All the paranormal writers chatted me up while the historical ones that don’t already know me eyed me askance. Even my editor said that after she met me she expected my writing to be wildly fun and totally unprofitable . . . thank Dog that prediction didn’t turn out to be true.

    Now I just have to get used to going by my middle name . . . I haven’t yet decided how much of my life to convert. I’m still “me” on my loops and at meetings and such. But I’m “Kalen” on blogs and my website.

  2. eleora said:

    Your comments on this have made me realize I need to drop the middle initial on my real name or maybe go with a pen name since it is hard to “hear” the spelling of my last name.

    I thought of a great pseudonym with a Chinese first name and American last name. I am not Asian, but I like the name combo (last name has shelf potential) and my book is a Japanese fantasy. I worry some people might be offended if they thought I was trying to pretend I had Asian heritage, but I would probably use the name for future fantasy books (Asian themed or not) and really like the name because it fits.

    Thoughts anyone?

  3. Madison Reece said:

    I’m just the opposite.

    I started using my pen name immediately on my writers groups and such. My whole family emails me under my new name so I’m very accustomed to answering to it everyday, even if I never get published.

    My real last name is an obvious American Indian name. I’m the only “cracker” in the bunch (as they like to remind me playfully at times). When people see the name on my check/debit card, etc., they go, “Wow, you must have married into the family.” So I knew going in that I would never use the name even though it is really mine.

  4. Susan Wilbanks said:

    For the longest time I fully intended to use a pen name, despite the fact that everyone told me my real (married) name is perfect for historical romance. But I worried that W is too deep in the alphabet, and I thought a little anonymity might be nice.

    So I dug back through my family tree, nearly 75% of which is British Islander of one flavor or another, and looked for a new last name. (I wanted a family name so I’d still feel connected to it and because I figured it’d keep my pseudonym from screaming “cheesy fake romancey name!”) Every single name I tried had something wrong with it. Some called up pop culture associations I hadn’t known about but all my friends had. My sainted grandmother’s last name reminded people of a rude sexual act. Etc.

    I finally thought I had a good one–only to discover that an author I resemble a lot in subject matter and a fair amount in style had used a name only one letter different as a pseudonym for a few works.

    At that point I threw up my hands in frustration and decided to write under my real name. I bought my domain name the day I made the decision. If/when I sell, I hope my editor lets me keep it, back of the alphabet and all.

  5. Kalen Hughes said:

    I swore for years I’d publish under the last name “Quigley” so I’d be on the shelf near Amanda Quick and Julia Quinn. LOL! I still think this is not a bad idea . . .

    And while I have the most “cracker/hippy” name in the world (firs, middle and last), I’m half-Native American. So I’ll tell you what, Eleora, we can swap names. *GRIN*

  6. Kelly Parra said:

    Not to mention when people see my married name on a form before they meet me, they always do a double take. My name IS seriously Irish. lol!

    My maiden name is from my father’s Mexican/Filipino side, which was a second choice, but I’ve always had trouble with people pronouncing it incorrectly. My pen name is easier to remember, and it feels good to use a family name. Kristin’s right, Kelly Parra works well with my writing. =)

  7. Simon Haynes said:

    Off topic, but I can’t believe just how many of the tracks you mention on your ‘what’s playing’ thingo are also in my faves list. It’s got to the point where if you mention something I’ve not heard of I’m almost certain to like it.
    We must be the same vintage 😉 Mind you, I haven’t seen Thomas Dolby, Simple Minds, Dire Straits or Pink Floyd yet.

  8. Scott Oden said:

    I think I lucked out in having my real name be perfectly suited to ancient historicals (Oden/Odin) and short enough to be easily remembered. If I ever switch genres I might look into a pen name.

  9. Termagant 2 said:

    Since my birth name is Siobhan Jeanne-Marie N’fume Kim Wong de Montoya, and I don’t write funky multiculturals, I use a pen name. Or you can just call me T2.

  10. Milady Insanity said:

    I’ll need a pseudonym. Hardly anybody can pronounce my real name, even other Chinese, so… a pseudonym it is.

    I don’t like how Parra looks in writing, but it does sound very ‘chick-litty’ when you say it aloud.

  11. BuffySquirrel said:

    I read somewhere that you could construct a good psuedonym by using your middle name and the name of the street you lived in. At the time, that gave me “Ruth Grange”, which I thought was kinda cool.

    Then we moved. Ruth South? Not so much.