Remember the game show “I’ve Got a Secret,” which began in 1952? Celebrity panelists tried to determine a contestant’s occupation by asking questions of the participant who could only respond with “yes” or “no” answers. This secret occupation could be something unusual, embarrassing or humorous.
Well, I’ve got a secret, too. I wrote about an earlier secret I was carrying last year when I was told not to announce my addition to the
“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Believe in Miracles” anthology until several months later. The publishers, Simon and Shuster, wanted to keep the news quiet a bit longer.
My secret today is about my author name, Lee St. John. If you have heard me speak at one of your meetings, you know that. But if you haven’t invited me to come be a guest at one of your past meetings, you don’t know that. I will tell you today why it is I have a nome de plume, a pseudonym, or pen name.
But first, why shouldn’t I have a pen name? Samuel Clemons did. Benjamin Franklin used one. I’ll even go so far to say William Shakespeare did, too.
Here is a list of a few others. Can you match the author with their pseudonym?
1. J.K. Rowling a. Ayn Rand
2. Stephen King b. Ann Landers
3. Anne Rice c. Robert Galbraith
4. Nora Roberts d. Dr. Suess
5. Charles Dickens e. Richard Bachman
6. Louisa May Alcott f. Curren Bell
7. Charlotte Bronte g. A. M. Barnard
8. Emily Bronte h. Boz
9. Anne Bronte i. Ellis Bell
10. Ruth Crowley j. Acton Bell
11. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson k. Lewis Carroll
12. Eric Arthur Blair l. George Orwell
13. Mary Anne Evans m. George Eliot
14. Theodor Seuss Geisel n. Anne Rampling
15.Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum o. J. D. Robb
In my case I thought my pen name sounded more like an author’s name than my real one. But also, I was trying to get even with my own children. You see, I have two millennial sons who have never married, do not have children, and are not listening to anything I have to say. While writing my first book, I’d want to share one of my family stories with them about their childhood but they didn’t want to hear it. I’d ask “Why?” and they would answer that they lived it so why would they want to hear it again?
So I did the next best thing to get their attention. I slapped their names on the cover. You’ve heard the saying, “Don’t get mad. Get even.” My oldest is Lee. My youngest is John. And I am a SAINT for having raised them.
Here are the pen names with the real ones.
Samuel Clemons – Mark Twain
Benjamin Franklin – Mrs. Silence Dogood
J.K. Rowling – Robert Galbraith
Stephen King – Richard Bachman
Anne Rice – Anne Rampling
Nora Roberts – J.D. Robb
Charles Dicksons – Boz
Louisa May Alcott – A.M. Barnard
Charlotte Bronte – Curren Bell
Emily Bronte – Ellis Bell
Anne Bronte – Acton Bell
Ruth Crowley – Ann Landers
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – Lewis Carroll
Mary Anne Evans – George Eliot
Theodor Seuss Geisel – Dr. Seuss
Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum – Ayn Rand
And Lee St. John? – Gonna keep you guessing.