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Monday, November 5, 2012

Coming Clean

Category: Romance Authors

            Nora Roberts
            Claudia Dain
            Ava Stone
            Tammy Falkner
            Sylvia Day
            J.R. Ward
            Ari Thatcher
            Amanda Quick
            Heather Graham
            Sherrilyn Kenyon
            Meg Cabot

(insert Jeopardy music here)


(insert buzzer/beep here)

The answer is: Which authors write under more than one pen name?

I know from experience that coming up with one pen name is hard, but two or more?   And why not use your own name, unless it doesn’t sound very authorish, or is too hard to pronounce, or you were given some horrific family name you wish would have remained buried with a great, great grandma.  

I almost went with my middle name. It dates back several generations. It is Christine, and there is nothing wrong with that name and I rather like it. I gave it to one of my daughters as a middle name.  But Christine added to my real last name would have taken up a good portion of the book cover.  Oh, and in our family, it is the middle name that passes down from mother to daughter, though we side-stepped it in my case.  My aunt had the middle name. Sadly she passed away before she had children of her own. Since my older sister had already been born the middle name was passed onto me when I entered this world.

I don’t know anyone who had an easy time settling on their pen name.  I have read threads upon threads of my critique partners trying to determine which name fit their romance author voice. At least one author did keep her own name, but I am not going to share who. If she/they wishes to confess, she/they can do so in the comments. 

As a side note, when you are at a conference with ladies you knew before they settled on a pen name, it is really hard not to call them by their real name. I’ve done it and luckily nobody has caught on, yet.  As for how I settled on this pen name, it was easier than I was making it.  They are the combination of my parent’s middle names.  I was trying different family name combinations one day and put those two together and voila, Jane Charles was born.  See how I kept that middle name tradition going? Ha!

But, that isn’t my only pen name and I have decided to come clean.

For the past few years I have worked hard to keep my two author identities separate, and it is becoming a pain.  When I write or respond to a blog I have to remember which “voice” or “persona” is writing.  Preparing separate biographies was difficult too, though they are both me. Just different parts of me. Then there is deciding who you are going to be at a conference.  I’ve had critique partners read my badge before saying my name. It isn’t that they forgot who I was, they simply needed reminding of who I was that day.
Frankly, it is tiring.  I don’t know how others do it.  And many don’t hide it well, or chose not to hide it, or gave up trying, like me.  Otherwise we wouldn’t know the following little tidbits:

          Nora Roberts is also JD Robb
          Claudia Dain is also Claudia Welch
          Ava Stone is one half of Lydia Dare
          Tammy Falkner is the other half of Lydia Dare
          Sylvia Day also writes a S. J. Day and Livia Dare
          J.R. Ward is also Jessica Bird
          Ari Thatcher also pens novels under the name of Aileen Fish
          Amanda Quick writes as Jayne Anne Krentz and Jayne Ann Castle
          Heather Graham writes also as Shannon Drake
          Sherrilyn Kenyon is also Kinley MacGregor
          Meg Cabot is also Jenny Carroll

I have not read a book by every name listed above so I cannot tell you why they have separate pen names. Maybe it is because one writes historical and the other writes contemporary. Maybe one name writes romance and another thrillers.  There are dozens of reasons why an author might feel it is necessary to have different pen names.  For me, it is because of the difference between secular and inspirational.

 As Jane Charles, I write historical romances with various heat levels, from sweet to steamy.  I tend to stay in the Regency Period, though several others interest me.  As Amy De Trempe I  write inspirational historical romances.  The heat level is mild, if it exists at all, God is at the center of the romance and the bedroom door remains closed.

It is because the two are so far apart that I felt the need to write under separate identities and never planned on letting readers know Jane and Amy were one in the same.  Inspirational romance isn’t even shelved with romances in most bookstores. They are kept with religious fiction.  Two different audiences, two different worlds and I feel as if I have been straddling them both for too long. 

I understand that I may lose some of Amy’s readers when they realize I don’t always author a sweet, inspirational story.  And, I also realize that those who read Jane’s books may not wish to read inspirational. While I hate the idea of losing any reader, I also understand some may not wish to read both.  Not every book, style or theme is everyone's cup of tea. We all have our own tastes and what we like in a story. If we didn’t, there would be no need for so many different genres.  However, I do feel I married the two in my soon to be released novel, A Perfect Gentleman

Matthew Trent always knew what was expected of him and that was to become the Perfect Vicar and be a Perfect Gentlemen. When Grace Cooper enters his life he is forced to face what he really wishes to become.

Grace Cooper has three options for marriage available to her in the small village where she resides. However, she would rather be placed on the shelf than enter into a miserable union. 

When someone threatens Grace's father and then makes an attempt on her life, it is Vicar Trent who vows to protect Grace and brings scandal to her doorstep, upsetting the delicate balance of both of their worlds.

I was able to meld the inspirational I love with the secular I adore.  In fact, many readers may think they are reading an inspirational at first.  Is it for Christian readers? Probably not since Vicar Trent does break a few rules when temptation can no longer be ignored.

If you are an author, how did you arrive at your pen name? Do you have more than one? 

If you are a reader, when you find out your favorite author writes under a different name, do you read one of those books to find out if you will like it as well?

Jane Charles and Amy De Trempe


  1. A Perfect Gentleman sounds delish, Jane/Amy!

    It is hard to come up with a good pen name. Sometimes people ask why anyone would ever use one, but there are good reasons to go both ways, it all depends on circumstances...

    Personally, I'm always interested and intrigued when an author writes under two names--multiple interests and abilities are a good thing!

  2. Thanks, Deb. I have gotten excited when I find out a favorite author has books out under a different name and usually check out at least one of their books.

  3. Good for you Jane. Honestly, I don't see why sex plus a spiritual journey with the h/h faith in God should be separate. I mean, God did tell Adam to get it on with Eve in Genesis. Then there's the entire Song of Solomon, which is erotic as anything. :))) And yay for you for coming clean.

    Love the blurb for A Perfect Gentleman! :)

    1. Excellent points, Marquita. When I read Song of Solomon as an adult, I saw it in a totally different light than I did as a kid, that is for sure - lol.

  4. Jane ~ I can tell you that coming up with the name "Lydia Dare" was more difficult than naming my child. For one... Tammy and I are as different as night and day. Getting us to agree on something we could both be called wasn't the easiest. For another... we had to get our agent to agree. And we also had to have our editor give approval. AND we had to make sure there was a domain name available for a website.

    We went through more names than tissue in a kleenex box. But I think the name reflects the nature of our books... the LYDIA has a historical ring to it, and the DARE works well with the paranormal aspects of these stories. :)

    1. I have vague recollections of that time period in your life. But, even if it seemed like a long road to get there, it is an awesome name. I know what you mean about the issue with domain names thought. When my website is finally live it will JaneACharles. I've considered added the middle initial to everything now to make it easier. Not sure yet. I picked the first letter in the alphabet because I didn't have it in me to try an come up with perfect middle initial - lol.

  5. No multiple pen names for me. It gets confusing. But I have a fake name just for fun when I'm out, Bambi La Fleur. My friend and I came up with silly names one night when we were bowling, because it shows your name up on a screen for all to see. I would like to use it when we have to wait for a table at a restaurant, but I don't think I could keep a straight face. :)

    1. I am so calling you Bambi from now on - LOL

  6. Well, hey there, Amy Jane. <--I kind of like that, so if you need a new pen name, it's all yours. lol. I chose not to use a pen name because, well, Andris Bear is already awesome! And if I'd gone with my parents middle names, you'd be calling me Jeanne Dean. I don't think that's even sexy enough for deep south inbred romance. Teehee! Cute post!!!

    1. "deep south inbred romance" now there is a genre I never thought of - LOL. If I had your name, I would have kept it as well since it is Awesome. Amy Jane does have a nice ring to it and sounds like the author for children's books. If I ever dust off the one I wrote a long time ago I am so using it.

  7. I will definitely read their book from other genre :)