Pen names are nothing new in the world of publishing. Charlotte Bronte of Jane Eyre fame published under Currer Bell; Charles Lutwidge Dodgson published Alice in Wonderland as Lewis Carroll. There are plenty of reasons why someone may elect to use a pen name in lieu of one’s legal name, such as a legitimate fear that the book wouldn’t publish or sell well under a woman’s name; or to protect the writer from retribution for what they wrote.
What I found interesting as a lover of mysteries, especially cozies, is the proliferation of pen names for genre fiction authors. I’ve interviewed several people who have several, if not many, pen names for their books. Sometimes, it seems the pen name was associated with a single series, or sometimes, it may be associated with different genres, from cozy mystery to romance. I decided to talk directly to a few authors to understand their reasons for using pen names with different series.
When I first started working on this article, it seemed like the easy answer was that the multiple names were all due to branding. Ellen Byron, television writer and author of the award-winning Vintage Cookbook series, summed it up best, “If you’re writing erotica and cozy mysteries, you may not want your readers getting those mixed up.”
Several authors noted that the request came from the publishers and editors. Ellen Byron’s publisher asked her to use a pen name for her first series, Catering Hall Mysteries. Olivia Matthews, the cozy writer behind the Spice Isle Bakery series, had written romance suspense and contemporary romances under different names but was advised with her cozy mysteries to use another pseudonym since mystery readers may not want to read anything written by a romance writer.
With Anastasia Hastings, author of the recently published Of Manners and Murder, her pen names were used with different types of genre fiction. For instance, she wrote the Pepper Martin series under the name Casey Daniels, where Pepper Martin sees ghosts. But when she had the idea for a cozy series that took place around antique buttons, Hastings said, “For the same publisher, the publisher was worried if it had the Casey Daniels name on it, people would expect ghosts, so that’s how I became Kylie Logan.”
Some authors make their pen name part of the brand in fun and unusual ways. Hastings has at least 11 pseudonyms. Byron noted that one author has really leaned into her multiple pen names; her website is J.H. Authors (Julianne Holmes, J.A. Hennrikus, and Julia Henry) with the tagline: One Woman. Three Names. Many Books.
Link to the rest at BookRiot