Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's in an Author's Name?

The book I am currently reading is 'Death Comes to Pemberly' by P. D. James.  I have never read any novels by this author, although the author's name was familiar to me.  I only decided to read this novel after I found out that it was a follow-up to the age-old classic 'Pride and Prejudice', one of my favorites.

For some strange reason, I had always thought the P. D. James was a man. Why?  I think it was the use of initials.  That is the only reason I can think of.  Imagine my surprise when three different people asked me what I was reading last week and each one said they had never read any books by 'him', although all had heard of 'him'.  One even said they watched the dramatizations on public television of 'his' novels.

I guess it is pretty easy to know that James Patterson is a man and Sandra Brown is a woman.  When asked to name a famous female mystery writer, most people would probably name Agatha Christie.  Male or female it is usually pretty clear.  Of course, George Sand changed her name and I am sure confused readers in her own time as well.

Years ago, many years ago, a friend suggested to my husband that he should by me a tape recorder so I could put down the stories of my early years for the great American novel.  Well, I got the tape recorder, but never got the ambition to actually record the stories of the people I grew up with. I had a title and a pseudonym, but the tales remained in my head.  Anyway, the novel 'Peyton Place' had already been written.  And now, when I have the time, just writing this blog is hard enough.

The strange thing is that the name I chose may have led people to believe I was also a male writer: Adrian St. Clair.  I wonder how many of you also thought that P.D. James was a man.  At least I know that I am not the only one.

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