As long as there have been writers, there have been writers using pseudonyms.
In the 19th century, female authors such as Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot), Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin (George Sands) and Emily Bronte (Ellis Bell) used nom de plumes in order to traverse the male-dominated publishing world.
Some female authors have chosen to abreviate their full names to make them more gender neutral, such Catherine Lucille Moore, who wrote in the 1930s male-dominated science fiction genre as C.L. Moore, and Susan Eloise Hinton, who published her famous novel The Outsiders as S.E. Hinton.
A more recent example of this is Joanna Rowling, who felt her book about a boy wizard were more likely to be published is she wrote as J.K. Rowling.
Some authors who write in both fiction and non-fiction, or across several genres, choose a pseudonym to avoid confusing readers about their work. For this reason, noted mathematician Charles Dodgson chose to write his fantasy novels Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass as Lewis Carroll.
Stephen King, frustrated by the publishing industry’s view that an author should only publish one book every year, created the pseudonym Richard Bachman in order to allow him to release more books and avoid reader fatigue.
A pair or group of writers collaborating on a work may choose a colllective name to publish under. Thriller writer Nicci French for example, is actually a husband and wife team; Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.
I make no secret about the fact I write under a pseudonym.
From day one I’ve been candid about the existence of other me. I also told you that I’d explain my reasons for doing so. So here we go.
I’ve always wanted to publish under a pseudonym, and have tried a few out over the years. Part of the reason is to distance myself from the work. Once it is published, I no longer own it. You, the reader, do.
A pseudonym helps people who know other me separate any preconceptions or prejudices from the work. It helps separate my life as a journalist and as a social media strategist from my life as a writer of literature.
But why Daniel Dalton?
Daniel is my real first name. I go by Dan as preference, but Daniel is on my birth certificate.
As you may know I recently got married. My wife is an established web designer in Australia and her name holds professional currency, so we decided she wouldn’t change it to mine. (I’ve never been much bothered about that particular tradition - she turned up at the wedding and said yes, that’s good enough for me!)
But she also suggested that when we go to dinner, or events, or on holiday, that she would use my last name. A nice gesture I thought, makes us feel like a team when we’re out and about.
We were talking before the wedding and I happened to mention that Jack White, of The White Stripes fame, wasn’t originally Jack White. When he married first wife and fellow White Stripe Meg White, he took her last name. Pretty cool I thought. Very modern.
My wife looked at me and said it out loud, “Daniel Dalton”. She smiled.
I decided then that although I won’t be legally changing my name either, I’d very much like to borrow her surname for my literature. She agreed.
And shortly thereafter, Daniel Dalton was born.
Do any of you write under a pseudonym? Let me know in the comments…