What is in a Pen Name?

What is in a name? And if you get to CHOOSE your own name, what does that mean about you?

I believe names are important. We start life with two. One name is given when you are born. One name is inherited from your family. These names to me are precious and have history and meaning beyond a single person. Then there are nicknames; you don’t get to choose these either and these can be jabs, jokes, or reminders.

And then there are pen names. A rare opportunity to pick something for yourself.

Some people may choose a pen name to disguise gender, to jump genres, or personal choice. Personally, I didn’t want to go with a pen name. I liked my name. Here’s my reasoning: I thought remember two names instead of one was confusing. Clemens and Twain? It’s like a quiz when I can’t even remember the name of the book! I also was worried about growing out of it like my middle school email address or my high school nickname. Those I will leave behind thank-you-very-much. And finally, I didn’t have anything to hide. I’ve been public about my book writing and I don’t write erotica, I write science fiction. My last name is unique, a good length, and well, it was mine.

So why am I talking about pen names? Oh, I’m so glad you asked!

I got married and am excited to start a family with a shared last name. By gaining a new name, at first I felt like I was losing another. But instead of losing Hasling, it has instead risen like a phoenix and taken on a new life as my pen name. It is so fulfilling to have my pen name inherited from myself and my book family.

And let me tell you a secret… it is kind of awesome! I wasn’t expecting to feel this since I hadn’t thought about picking one on my own. But let me say that having a pen name feels like a secret life, something you can crawl into a blanket fort with paper and pen and tell hidden mysteries and wild fantasies. I knew continuing to use this name would make me feel like I was keeping a connection to my family, but I didn’t know it would simultaneously give me freedom with the separation of my life online as an author and my life in the real world as a wife.

So would you choose a pen name? Searching for other tips on blog posts, I was surprised by how many posts were titled “new pen name”, but there are also a few other good reads out there I liked:

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