Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Name Game

By Darvell Hunt

Would you be more interested in reading a story written by Samuel Clemens or Mark Twain? My guess would be Mark Twain, but why? Does the name have more appeal or is it just because we’re familiar with stories associated with the name?

Would you be more inclined to read a novel written by Joe Hill or by Joseph Hillstrom King, son of Stephen King? My guess would not be Joe Hill, but in fact, these two names refer to the same person, but only one of them appears on a recently published novel. I imagine it would be hard writing under the shadow of such a famous father, but I’d be inclined to keep the famous name on my books. Yet I think I understand why he picked an alternate last name, because he doesn’t want his novel to be compared to Daddy’s writing. (What kind of bedtime stories do you think Stephen King used to tell his kids?)

Why use a pen name? Are there valid reasons to use one? Or is using a pseudonym just a “fun thing” we fiction writers like to do? Fictitious names for fictitious stories.

In my case, I’m considering using different names to publish in different genres. I’m currently writing both young adult material and more adult-themed thriller stories. It wouldn’t seem appropriate to use the same name for both, as I wouldn’t want to confuse a young reader who sees my name on a thriller novel.

We’ve been discussing this topic on various writing groups in which I participate. Many of my friends are trying to establish their writing identities before publication, which, in my opinion, is a good thing. It’s better than changing your name later on once you have created a solid reader base.

So don’t be surprised if in the near future you begin to see new writers pop up on your local bookstore shelves with similar names like Darvell Hunt, D. Dean Hunt, or even D. D. Hunt—all different variations of my given name. I might even consider writing romance under DeeDee Hunt, but maybe that’s pushing the idea a bit too far.


C. L. Hanson said...

I've wrestled with this question quite a bit since -- thanks to the antics of my brother, John Hamer -- my real name has more positive name recognition for Mormon audiences than my chosen pen-name (see how I got my name).

Still, I've published a couple of books professionally under my real name, and I like having a pen-name under which I can write whatever I want without worrying that that's what will come up when colleagues and professional contacts google my name.

On an unrelated note, I think that I'd rather read something by the real Joseph Hillstrom/Joe Hill than this imposter... ;^)

Annette Lyon said...

I'd totally buy a book by DeeDee Hunt. :D

Darvell Hunt said...

Thanks for the comments. I checked out your blog "Letters from a broad." Very funny stuff. I'll have to check back more often.

Funny comments about the French beaches. It's the same way in Australia, where I went for a couple of weeks for work a few years ago. After work one day I grabbed a towl and headed for the beach, which was right next to my hotel in Sydney. For a moment, I wasn't quite sure what I seeing. I didn't register for a moment. Then it did and I thought, "Whoa, that's not something I'm used to seeing."

Anyway, Annette, I guess I better get writing on that romance novel. Not to be funny or anything, but I DO have one plotted out. I have even called it "The Bee and the Butterfly." No reference to Mohammad Ali. I'll write it someday, along with all the other books I have crammed into my head.

Jenn said...

If you were a little kid, would you rather read a book by Theodore Geisel, or Dr. Seuss? :) Maybe I should think about doing something like that for my children's books... :D

I have this dream of getting published in the LDS market under one name, writing children's books under another name, and national books under yet another name. Someday, my adoring fans will be thrilled to learn in their history books that I was actually all three of those people. :D

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

I like Jennifer's idea. However, DeeDee Hunt is another option I really love.

Darvell Hunt said...

Exactly my point, Jennifer. The name Dr. Seuss has character. (Or is that Dr. Soice? I thought that's how the author wanted it pronounced.)

I have the dream of achieving a multiple-personality writing disorder, too. Maybe someday!

BTW, I think it's amusing that people seem to like the name DeeDee Hunt. I was half-joking, half being serious with that, but maybe it's a good idea. We'll see. I need a "book written by that name" first before I need to worry about it.

Thanks for the comments.