Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about pen names. An aspiring writer (friend of a friend) sought my advice on whether she needed one. She knew that most of my books had been published under a pen name. Indeed, I use it on this website. Understandably, she asked why.
I could only answer part of the question. I’m Sophie Weston on this website because, after fiftyish novels and 11 million+ copies sold, mostly by Harlequin Mills & Boon, that is how readers know me.
But taking a pen name was never my idea. And the only choice I got was to decide on a name.
I went for Sophie Weston mainly at my mother’s suggestion. We’d seen the movie of Tom Jones and she thought that Sophie, played by Susanna York, looked as a romantic novelist ought to look. Still makes me smile when I remember that conversation.
My agent told me that I had to have a pen name. She implied very strongly that the publisher required it.
Was she right? I can’t say, because I didn’t ask. Certainly most Mills and Boon authors about whom I know anything, including many friends, did and do have pen names.
Romance Author pen names
The late great Mary Burchell, President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association from 1966, was Ida Cook in real life. All the RNA’s papers of the time that I have seen use her pen name. When she died (in harness) very suddenly, there was an outpouring of genuine affection for her in the Newsletter. And every single one called her Mary. Continue reading →
This month I’ve been thinking about reading romance. Who does it? Why? When? And, well, what qualifies as romance? Troilus and Criseyde? Jane Eyre ? Anna Karenina? These Old Shades? Gaudy Night? Bridget Jones? Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music?
I’ve read them all and I’d say “yes but” to all of them. Many people, maybe most, would disagree with me on at least one.
On 3rd February the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association published its short list for this year’s awards. It’s the RNA”s 60th anniversary and this year there are nine categories.
My seven stories above would each fall into at least one of them.
Love is in the Air
And then there was St Valentine’s Day last Friday. That always brings out a flurry of saccharine fluff, embarrassing stunts and grimmish think pieces in the media.
Commercialism – shock, horror! Unrealistic emotional expectations from reading romance – fie, sir, write me a sonnet or leave at once! Head for the pub, lads, and fast. Continue reading →