Wednesday 16 July 2013
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The latest brouhaha concerning J K Rowling’s revelation of her pseudonym: Robert Galbraith has set the publishing dovecote in a flutter. What’s all the fuss about an author changing her name to mark a new chapter in her writing? It’s been done many times before. Becoming Leah Fleming has been one of my best publishing decisions although I was nervous at the time.
I was asked to use my married name by my first publishers and wrote seven books as Helene Wiggin but it never sat easily, good old English name as it is. It was never mine and who ever found W on a bookshelf; usually round the corner on the floor? Then there‘s Helene often mispronounced or romanticised. Actually it’s only a version of my mother’s name with an e on the end to distinguish our Ration Cards. That’s me dated.
So when Harper Collins asked me to choose another pen name for their new imprint Avon, I was more than happy to oblige. Time to go back to my Scots roots: Fleming. It has a literary provenance (My father was Alexander and my uncle, Ian - but not the inventors of penicillin or James Bond) Plus it sits mid shelf and easy to spot next to Katie Fforde and Katy Flynn.
As for Leah she was a gift from one of the directors in honour of a favourite aunt. It’s a name both old fashioned and yet popular today and easy on the tongue. I love it but I was fascinated how publishers like to pass off published authors as debutantes. I found it hard to be “a virgin” knowing I had seven kids in tow. But at last I have screen to hide behind, a professional existence as well as my private identity.
So long live Leah Fleming. After all it’s not just the name that matters in the end. Surely it’s the quality of writing and stories that must shine through?