Tuesday, February 02, 2010

An Alter Ego Takes Over

Today I'm welcoming Dara Edmondson--or is it Wynter Daniels--to Terry's Place. Wynter Daniels is the naughty cousin of romance writer Dara Edmondson. Wynter was such a bad girl that her parents were forced to punish her by locking her away in her room for hours on end. She spent those hours thinking up wicked stories for her future career as an erotic romance author. Just kidding, but Wynter is Dara’s alter ego.

First – thank you, Terry for inviting me to join you here today. I’m a big fan of your blog, which is such a wealth of great information for fiction writers at all stages of the journey.

I’d like to talk about using a pen name today. Specifically, why I use one. When I looked around at authors who have written under pseudonyms, I was struck by the number who write under more than one name and by those who have chosen to forgo their given name in their work. The simplest of reasons is a forgettable or difficult name. Some famous authors wrote under a pen name to protect their identity from government persecution, like Voltaire. Others, like George Eliot, did it to hide their gender. You see, George Eliot was actually Mary Ann Evans, who feared a woman’s writings would not be taken seriously.

Eleanor Marie Robertson assumed all writers took pen names, so she changed hers to Nora Roberts. Now she uses more than one pseudonym to differentiate the various genres in which she writes: Nora Roberts for romance and J. D. Robb for crime/mystery books. She has also penned books under the name Jill March.

One of the more interesting uses a name is that of Ellery Queen, who serves as both a fictional character and the pen name of two cousins from Brooklyn. Three other cousins who currently write mystery, took on the name of Caroline Cousins.

In the world of today’s romance fiction, my reason is pretty simple. I’d been writing romances under my own name for several years. I’d hopped between genres a bit—straight contemporary, romantic comedy and young adult. But when I decided to try my hand at erotic romance, I didn’t want my readers to buy one of my new books and think they were getting the same sort of thing. And heaven forbid a teenager who’d read one of my young adult stories would mistake an erotic romance for something appropriate for them. In essence, I wanted to re-brand myself.

Hence, Wynter Daniels was born. And frankly, I’ve had some fun with the change. I can blame all sorts of transgressions on Wynter. My husband and my friends love to tease me with references to her. But it’s important to me that readers know when they buy one of Wynter’s stories, they are signing up for a very hot experience. Wynter uses words I would never think to utter!

I knew I’d created a totally different reading experience when the managing editor from one of my publishers emailed me after she’d read Wynter’s first story. She congratulated me and said I’d really grown as a writer. That was when I realized Wynter needed her own website.

My own persona can’t get a word in edgewise anymore! Eventually I will write some books under my own name, but for now, Wynter will be paying the bills.

Wynter Daniels writes for Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id and Red Sage Publishing. Her first two stories will be released the beginning of March. You can find her at http://WynterDaniels.com.


Mason Canyon said...

Great post. Interesting to find out of the various pen names. Dara I love your reason for using a pen name. As a reader when you pick up a author's book, you assume (I know a bad thing) that it will be the same type of book you've enjoyed from the author before. Chances are you won't notice that it says it's a new genre so when you start reading, you're caught off guard. You wonder has my author forsaken my genre interest for something else. With various pen names you can have the genre you love from the author and explore something new too. Thanks again for a great post.

Terry thanks for introducing me to not one, but two wonderful authors. :)

Catherine Kean said...

Great post, Dara! You mention excellent reasons for an author to take a pen name. Readers do have expectations when buying books from authors they've read before, and I think you're wise to separate your hotter stories by using a pseudonym. Congrats on your recent book sales and I can't wait to hear what's next from the talented Dara/Wynter!

Wynter Daniels said...

Thanks, Mason. I've had that experience and was very let down when the author goes and switches genres on me.
Glad you could drop by, Catherine and thanks for your good wishes.

Wendy Marcus said...

I enjoyed this post and Wynter's website! I'll be on the lookout for her upcoming books.

Wynter Daniels said...

Thanks for checking it out, Wendy!

Terry said...

Fun post! Yes, I can see genre jumping as a good reason. I'm going to use a pen name as my novel is really more of a guy novel. Even though my name is androgynous, I feel I need to use a more masculine one. Also I like privacy, which may be a bad trait in a writer:) (the other Terry)

Wynter Daniels said...

Privacy is important, especially if you become the next JK Rowling or Stephenie Meyer!

Kimberly D Hayes said...

I love the idea of a pseudonym as a branding tool. Wynter Daniels just sounds like she'd be adventurous! Glad to hear she'd having lots of success too :-)

Carol A. Strickland said...

Enjoyed the blog! (Never knew Nora's real name.) If and when I get my children's fantasy novel out, it'll be under another name (and website) so they don't accidentally stumble upon my more adult stuff. // Bonus points for you for working in Wonder Woman! A day without Wondie is a day without... well, something.