What’s in a name?

Lily Malone is a pseudonym.

I agonised long and hard about the name to choose for my writing. I’ve always loved the name Lily and as I had two sons instead of daughters, I’ve never had the chance to use it. So Lily it was. But boy, did some blood, sweat and tears go into the choice. Not only the name to choose, but whether to use a pseudonym or not in the first place.

In the end for me, it came down to two things.

1) I’ve never liked my own name much. The entire thing takes eight syllables. Honestly it goes forever. As a girl I told anyone who would listen that I wanted to be the next Jana Wendt… yes – nice-short-sharp Jana Wendt. It sounds perfect said into a hairbrush as you cross back to the studio and my own name never sounded so good; I needed a packed lunch and water bottle before I got to the end. In the event one day I manage to get something I’ve written published, I doubt my real name would fit on the cover. I’d probably end up like Wimbledon, where they cut off the name after three letters on their on-screen scoreboard and you spend the next five minutes waiting to get a glimpse at the real scoreboard so you know who’s actually playing. Unless it says FED, of course.

2) My father might find out. The thought of my old man finding out that I write about … well… cocks and pussies amongst other things, terrifies me. I have an accountant cousin who strikes me very much as a 50-Shades-of-Grey-during lunch-hour-type and you just never know. If my father found out I was writing romance, he’d have a purple hernia. (Like there’s any other kind). It’s not worth the risk, however remote the odds.

When I got married, I debated about changing my name. But his surname doesn’t do much for me either when put with my first name; and I was just too slack to bother to fill out all the paperwork anyway. It was easier to stay me.

In the week or so before I took the plunge with this blog; I toyed with several names.

The first was Sara Olaf. Short. Sharp. These things count. It was a name I used many, many moons ago when I wrote a ghost column for a newspaper. There would be one other person on the planet, I think, who might recognize that name and think of me. So it was safe. Unfortunately, I mentioned this name to my husband and he thought it was crappy. When I thought about it more, I kind of agreed with him.

Then I liked Lily Sullivan; but that’s the name of one of my sons (sorry – the Sullivan part – I don’t have a son called Lily Sullivan!) It didn’t seem fair to pick one of my sons’ names and not the other. And if I picked both my sons’ names and tried to put them together, I’m just about up in the eight syllable territory again, so what would be the point?

One of my favorite writers is John Sandford. In his Lucas Davenport novels there is a character called Lily Rothenburg. I love that character. Another character in the Davenport novels has the surname Malone. (Unfortunately, she gets shot and croaks it… so I shall have to hope for a longer career with a brighter ending!)

I have read online columns about pros and cons of pseudonyms verses using your own name. I figure I can always change later if I get brave… (maybe when my old man falls off his perch – sorry Dad). In the meantime I like being anonymous. It’s like moving interstate or living overseas where you don’t know a soul and there’s zero chance you’ll walk down the supermarket aisle and have someone shout your name.

Where do you sit on pseudonyms? How did you choose yours?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s