On Using a Pseudonym

When I became serious about writing my first novel, I had to decide if I would use my birth name or a pen name. “To be, or not to be; that is the question” (Shakespeare’s Hamlet), that was the idiom that popped into my head when I first debated the use of a pseudonym. Ok I realize that Shakespeare intended that phrase to question the internal debate about whether one was better off dead or alive in Hamlet but for me the question wasn’t quite so dark.
With my given name being Dora and the obvious connection with a cartoon character, it was no question in my mind to opt against it. Those who know me best also know that I was never keen on my name even before the cute little tv character graced the airwaves with her bilingual education.
My closest friends and family call me by my middle name Ines (ee-NEZH). Now this was a name that I was fond of so I decided to go with it. As for the surname, I felt more anonymous by using my mothers maiden name instead of my own.
It is silly when you think that I never intended to keep myself completely anonymous, especially from friends and family. And it wasn’t like I picked names that couldn’t be easily connected to me. My choice was more psychological; I felt like I was free to express myself under the veil of another name. It was also an emancipation from a name that always made me cringe to introduce myself as. Yes, it was a liberation!  That is how strongly I dislike my name. Some might not think its so bad and could probably carry it well, but it never suited me. When I was a child I asked my mom why she chose this name – keep in mind that it is also her name – she said that she had originally chosen Natalie but my paternal grandmother insisted on Dora Ines. My mom having been the naive age of seventeen when she gave birth to me gave in to the suggestion. My cherubic cheeks drooped at the realization that I was so close to having had a different name. I imagined having been referred to by nicknames like Nat, Nattie, or just plain Natalie. Over time I got over Natalie like a childhood friend that I was once close with but moved away and embraced my middle name.
I considered using Nat as my pen name but it felt too far removed from me. So Ines Lozano was born. Nat Lozano doesn’t sound half bad, but Ines Lozano felt like home.
I thought it would be fun to add a little trivia info here. Below are five well known authors that used pseudonyms and their reasons for doing so↓
1. Anne Rice – Author of the highly successful vampire series The Vampire Chronicles. She was born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien. No, you read that right, Howard Allen. According to wikipedia she is quoted as saying that her mother, “had the idea that naming a woman Howard was going to give that woman an unusual advantage in the world.” On her first day of school however, the nun asked her for her name and she blurted out Anne; Rice is her married name. She may not have embraced her given name – much like myself – but her mother was on to something, Anne Rice turned out to be one of the most successful female writers of our time. (Anne Rice wiki)
2. JK Rowling – (Potterheads rejoice!) After her enormous success with the Harry Potter series, Rowling wanted to dive into a new genre without the “hype or expectation” of it being associated with her name. She wanted real and honest feedback, so she wrote the Cormoran Strike series under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Eventually her “cover” was blown and she had to admit to being the author. (Robert Galbraith)
3. Nora Roberts – Now here is an author who used not one but two pseudonyms for two different reasons. She was born Eleanor Marie Robertson but she assumed that all writers worked under a pen name, so she chose Nora Roberts for her romance novels. Roberts wrote with such fervor that her publishers had a hard time keeping up. When she was pushing a new series, in Death, she had to work it under the pen name JD Robb – after her sons Jason and Daniel, and her last name Robertson. This allowed the publishing company to work both projects as two separate ventures.  (Nora Roberts wiki)
4. Here is one that aficionados of the classics may already know but came as a surprise to me – Mark Twain – The genius wordsmith behind two of America’s greatest novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Samuel Langhorne Clemens found his pen name while working on steamboats in his youth. ‘Twain’ is crewmen jargon that refers to a depth of two fathoms (12 feet) in bodies of water. On the deck a leadman would yell out, “Mark! Twain!”, to announce that they have reached a mark of two fathoms. It may have been to pay homage to this period of his life, one that he felt was important enough to write a memoir about, Life on the Mississippi. (Mark Twain wiki)
5. Benjamin Franklin – One of my favorite historical figures. A DaVinci of America’s very own – a title I am not afraid to bestow on him myself due to my admiration of his genius. Among my favorite accomplishments of his are the invention of bifocals and America’s first true and successful lending Library (bless him!). Benjamin Franklin wrote under the guise of a multitude of characters (many of them women) including: Mrs Silence Dogwood –  the opinionated “female” author of letters published in his brothers newspaper; Busy Body – a gossip columnist of sorts; Anthony Afterwit – a humorous male perspective on married life, just to name a few. He chose to use pseudonyms to freely express his ideas anonymously during a time when they may have been viewed as salacious or even possibly illegal. (Benjamin Franklin PBS)
Hope you enjoyed! Feel free to leave a comment below!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jackie says:

    I’m enjoying this blog. It’s great to get more insight into a writer because you can gain a better understanding about their writing.
    I can appreciate this piece because I too have a name that I never felt suited me. It’s difficult to spell, long and people oftentimes don’t get it corret. It doesn’t bother me but after I graduated from college and entered the workforce, I gave myself a nickname. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,

      Thank you again for reading and commenting.


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