The Art of the Pseudonym

Jayne Krentz has made her pseudonyms work for her. Even now, when many of her books’ themes are starting to overlap–contemporaries with psychic elements, historicals with paranormal leanings, and futuristics with both paranormal, science-fiction, and psychic turns–she has a distinct use for each pseudonym. I’m not sure how many other authors have followed her lead with the use of pseudonyms, but I can name several who have done the same, years after Jayne Krentz split herself into three different authors.

Nora Roberts began writing futuristic romance/mystery under the name J.D. Robb. Sherrilyn Kenyon writes paranormal romance, but using the pseudonym Kinley MacGregor, she writes historical romance novels.

I’m not taking real names into consideration, because I’m most interested in why authors’ write books under different names, not why they don’t choose to use their real names on their books.

Heather Graham Pozzessere used Heather Graham Pozzessere for her category romance novels. She branched out into single title romance and suspense with Heather Graham. She writes historical and paranormal romance as Shannon Drake, but she also used to write historical romance under the name Heather Graham, and she did write some single title suspense as Heather Graham Pozzessere. So how does one differentiate between Heather Graham’s pseudonyms? To me, this isn’t nearly as efficient and artful as Jayne Krentz’s use of pseudonyms.

Jayne Krentz differentiates her books by time period with her pseudonyms. She continues to publish contemporary romance novels under her Jayne Ann Krentz name. She publishes paranormal/science-fiction romance set in the future on worlds other than Earth under her Jayne Castle name. Using Amanda Quick, she publishes historical romance fiction, mostly set in the Regency or Victorian era, but she’s also published several medieval era romance novels as Amanda Quick.

There was a time when the delineation between her books was stronger. Her contemporaries weren’t very paranormal, but now, with the Arcane Society series, she’s blurred the lines between her style of books. This isn’t a bad thing. She’s able to use her strengths from each type of book and combine them into one strong series.

Some authors don’t see the need to separate their books. L.E. Modesitt Jr. writes both fantasy and science fiction under his one author name. I haven’t read any of his science fiction, and I’ve never been surprised by picking up a book that I thought fit into his fantasy worlds but was in fact a science fiction story.

I wonder sometimes how much of Jayne Krentz’s decision to go forward with the Arcane Society series was simply a decision to find a good way to cross-promote her different books. Maybe at this point she wishes she were using only one name. I can’t say and I shouldn’t speculate, because I can’t know the answer without asking, and I probably won’t do that.  :)

I think if an author chooses to use a pseudonym, the way Jayne Krentz has used them is a great way to do so.

What do you think about it? I don’t mind when authors write different types of books under one name, even if those books are very different, although I do like consistency too. What about you?

Story Heaven