Not long ago I was asked why I don’t use a pen name, especially as many contemporary / erotic writers do. It took me a while to come up with an answer, but I’ve finally thought of one and here it is. I don’t use a pen name, because I don’t have to. It really is as simple as that.
I know a lot of writers who choose to use one for a variety of reasons: They write to different genres, they don’t want the public to know who they really are (they don’t want “celebrity” status), and they don’t think their real name is suitable for their genre are among the most popular. And I completely support their choice to use a pen name. Heck, there are “writer acquaintances” that I have, and I don’t even know their real names!! It’s whatever is right for you. For me, I have no reason to use one.
Currently I only write to one genre – romance. Although the lines between contemporary and erotic are a bit blurry, it is still romance. So I don’t need readers to be able to differentiate between titles. If you pick up a book by me, you know it’s going to be a basic love story with plenty of sex. However, if I ever get this paranormal / fantasy idea onto paper, then I will choose a pen name.
I don’t care if the public know who I am. I’m not afraid of publicity. I don’t particularly want to be the centre of attention, and I don’t like crowds or being up on stage in front of an audience (an audience of 12 was enough to make me feel sick a few weeks ago), but I want to be able to hold my own interviews. I want my readers to put a face to my name. I’m not famous, I’m not a celebrity, I’m an average woman who has written a few books. I don’t have to worry about paparazzi hounding me, so why not let everyone see who I am? If my books go viral and I start earning a reputation or status, then I’ll hire a bodyguard.
Finally, my name is fine for romance. Charlotte Howard is a good name (or at least I think so). Slightly pretentious perhaps, but I didn’t choose it – my parents chose my first name, and being a traditional person, I took my husband’s name when we got married. I’m proud of who I am, and why shouldn’t I slap it on my work? I don’t want someone else taking the credit for the weeks / months / years of slogging my guts out!
Another question I get asked it about my children. I have two young children, and I often get asked if I’m worried about what they’ll think when they’re older, or what if one of them pick up my book and start reading it.
Firstly, I’m not worried what they’ll think. Yes, they might be slightly embarrassed when it comes to telling their friends “My Mum writes sex books”, but we’re an open-minded family and I don’t think it is something to be ashamed of. However, they will not be reading it until they are legally old enough – 35 in the mind of my husband.
My son (who is 5) knows I write books for grown-ups, and that’s all he needs to know. Not being a big reader, he’s simply not interested. My daughter, a little bookworm at nearly 7, knows the titles and is proud to tell her teachers and any other adult she meets that I’ve written SEVEN DIRTY WORDS and FOUR LETTER WORDS. She knows that they are books for grown ups because they have naughty words in them, and that she’s not allowed to read them, and she accepts that. So I don’t worry about her picking them up and reading any of them, because I know she won’t. Not yet.
So that is why I use my real name when I’m writing. I’m proud of who I am, and what I’ve accomplished, and I don’t feel the need to hide behind a pseudonym. One day, when it’s needed I will use a pen name. I have several ideas floating about my head, but for now, I like my name and plan on using it.