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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Do You Care if I'm Female?

I was asked recently if my pen name, p.m.terrell, was selected because I wanted people to think I was a man.

That might have worked except for the fact that I show my face in public. And I don't think anyone would mistake me for a man.

My first four books were published under the name "Trish McClelland" which was my name (very Irish, don't you think?) before I married and became "Patricia McClelland Terrell."

When my first suspense was published (Kickback) I was living in Chesterfield, Virginia - right outside of Richmond, where Patricia Cornwell was a huge celebrity and a New York Times bestselling author. She lives elsewhere now but her books still hit the bestseller lists each and every time.

The publisher was afraid we would be compared constantly since we both share the same first name. But she was also opposed to using the name "Trish", which she said made me sound like I worked in a nail salon.

So the publisher suggested that I use the initials "P.M." An added bonus, she said to convince me, was my name could be in larger print since there were fewer characters with "P.M.Terrell" than with "Patricia M. Terrell" or certainly "Patricia McClelland Terrell."

When I saw the cover for the first time, the name was in all lower-case. It had been the publisher's suggestion. When she saw it, she hated it. When I saw it, I loved it.

And that's how I became "p.m.terrell."

What do you think? Would it have mattered to publishers, editors, agents or readers if I'd been a man instead of a woman?

3 comments:

onespoiledcat said...

I don't think it would have mattered....in the end it's the writing that's the hook not the name. I know some people say different but I really think the quality of the material inside the cover is what counts and you've got that - in spades!

Pam

p.m.terrell said...

Thanks for dropping in today and leaving a comment, Pam! I appreciate you being such a loyal fan. I considered recently adding another pen name and then read what others have experienced when they have used more than one name. It seems to create a lot of confusion and creates barriers in getting new fans to find the author's backlist. So I am sticking with what I've got. I have wondered, though, if J.K.Rowling gets asked the same question?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Might have mattered to a few shallow readers, but why worry about them?