Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why I use a pseudonym...

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In one sense, I already used a pseudonym.

The name I go by - Glenda - is not actually the name I was born with. I disposed of that partly because of the unusual spelling: Glenyce. Few people could get their head around how to spell it.

Secondly, it stuffed things up for Malaysians, who really, really didn't know what to make of it. Still does, in fact. As I have never changed my name legally, Glenyce is what you will find on my passport, hospital card, etc. So whenever I am waiting somewhere for my name to be called, I have to keep an ear out for every audio-linguistic variation from Glenyensee to Kali-nice. (I'm not kidding.*)

For my first book, Havenstar, I used the name I routinely use: Glenda Noramly. Big mistake. I wish I had used Glenda Larke from the beginning. I did ask my then UK editor about it, but he shrugged and didn't seem to think it mattered, saying "After all, if Sri Lankan-Canadian novelist Michael Ondaatje can still be a best seller..."**

Why was it a mistake? Because I had to change my name for my next book. This was a shame, because I lost the enthusiastic readership of Havenstar, many of whom are probably still unaware that I have written other books. Sure, there weren't that many readers. It only sold some 8,000 books worldwide, but it seemed to be universally loved and is still pulling in huge sums on the secondhand market, over 10 years later.

But my next book had another publisher, in Australia this time, and I was asked to change my name because it was too difficult to remember, too unfamiliar, too easy to misspell. So I reverted to my maiden name and became Glenda Larke.

Tomorrow the topic continues!! I shall talk about the advantages and disadvantages of a pseudonym. Keep your comments coming...

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*I also didn't realise when I chose Glenda as an easier name to use in Malaysia, that some non-English speakers have a problem with the G-L combination.

The funny think is that Malaysians don't seem able to cope with my husband's name when it is my surname, either. When he uses it, everyone pronounces it correctly. When I use it, it instantly becomes in their mind some sort of weird Anglo moniker. And they have come across a word very much like it...

Which is why Glenda Noramly ends up being Calendar Normally. Now there's a pseudonym for you. Unforgettable, right?


**Oddly enough, having mentioned him once on this blog, "How do you pronounce 'Ondaatje' " became one of the favourite google searches that bring people here. I still have no idea how to pronounce it.

3 comments:

Katie said...

Does it bother you that you are still legally your original name? Does it in any way interfere with signing contracts or signatures for fans?

l-j-hayward said...

I've often wondered about the contract deal. Though I do just think it's a matter of the contract being directed toward the 'legal' name, with a clause re the pseudonym.

I went with L.J. Hayward for published stories because of an urban myth that gender ambiguous names appeal to more readers. Doesn't worry me, but then I'm not most people.

Lisa is rather simple, but just today, when I answered the phone at work, I was greeted with "Hello, Elizabeth." And these days I have to spell it because too often someone will write Liza, Leesa, Leisa, Lesha, Lesah.

Cheers, Leesa... Leisa... Lisa.

Jo said...

Some of those 8,000 readers of Havenstar would surely search you on the net and find out about your other books, or is that being too hopeful. If I enjoyed a book I would certainly try and find out what else the author had written.

What a very unusual spelling for your name Glenyce, I have never come across that before. I do agree Glenda is a much easier name to spell.