Pen names; not that unusual. Most people have heard of pen names and a little research reveals that more well-known authors than you think use them. John Le Carre? Real name was David John Moore Cornwell. George Orwell? Actually called Eris Blair. J.R.R.Tolkein? Baptised Willy Ramsbottom.*
Pen names were rather common in ye olden days when women sought to disguise the origin of their work in order to get published. Latterly it’s been more about people seeing either to give themselves a cooler sounding name or to hide their true identity.
My decision was a bit of both, but with the main aim so my work wouldn’t clash with my former career, in case my former career also becomes my future career in case this writing malarkey doesn’t work out.
Deciding I needed to publish under a different name was the easy part. Picking something suitable was far harder. The trouble with names is that you kind of get used to them. They tend to suit people. Think what you like about Donald Trump but to me he definitely is a Donald Trump.
I guess I had some practice when our son was on the way, but that was easier because we were naming him rather than having to rename him. It still proved quite a challenge though. We soon gave up sharing ideas with people because they pull an honest, and often horrified, face whilst you’re still deciding, whereas once the baby is born they feel compelled to agree with you. Oh yes, Lucifer really suits him. It’s nice to bring back the old names isn’t it?!
What makes it doubly hard is that you need to pick something different but isn’t weird enough to be off putting. It’s okay if you get the first bit wrong when naming your child, as we found out when Lucifer (kidding) ended up in the top 10 boy’s names the following year, but you really want to be original in the world of publishing. Unless, that is, you want to be that annoying Stephen R. King who keeps popping up on my Kindle searches when I’m trying to find a good horror novel.
Once you think of something you then have to consider a whole raft of questions. Is it too fake? Is it too pompous? Does it make you sound like a porn star? Will it fit on the cover of a book without having to use a ridiculously small font? How are you going to feel if you do get famous and people might actually call you it to your face?
So why Denver Murphy? I would like to convince you it’s because of all the above but the truth is I don’t have a clue. My grandmother’s maiden name was Murphy (hopefully you won’t be able to hack into my bank account based on this revelation) but that may have just been coincidence. I’ve never been to Denver and, although I think it may be in Colorado (I must ask two of my Twitter followers who seemed to think adding me would somehow lead to me updating them on upcoming events in their home town), I don’t strictly know where Colorado is in the USA.
Until next time,
*Okay, I did make that one up.