Are you sitting down? I have an announcement.
At least make sure there are no sharp objects within bonking distance.
Ok, here it is:
My name is not Danielle Heath.
It’s true, “Danielle Heath” is just a pseudonym. But I’m not using a pen name to hide my identity, I promise. You may even be reading this post from a link on my Facebook page (my actual Facebook page, though I have created a fan page for Danielle Heath), in which case you are well aware this is not my name.
To prove that I’m not hiding, I’ll tell you my real name: Danielle Therrien.
A lot of people I’ve referred to this blog are asking me why I’m not using my real name, and that’s a very good question, so here is the explanation.
One for the money: I have a full time job that has nothing to do with being a writer. In fact, I work in the Finance department of a healthcare company. I work with wonderful, lovely people who are all very good at what they do and are surprisingly supportive of my writing addiction. However, healthcare and paranormal romance are two very different things. It might be ok for me to dabble in writing contests while I work there, but someone could feel entirely different about a book where blood-drinking, shapeshifting, or witchcraft play a prominent role. I like working there. I plan to continue working there. Better to play it safe than to someday have those worlds collide and face unemployment or worse, legal fees.
Two for the show: My real name is not easy for everyone. Unless you’ve known me for a while, you probably don’t know how to pronounce it (or you think you do, and I just haven’t corrected you in the last 15 years). I can’t escape the mental image of a woman standing at the Barnes & Noble help desk, snapping her fingers, staring at the ceiling for an answer, telling the clerk, “It’s by Danielle whats-her-name, you know, that book about the vampire who falls in love with the human?” Yeah. That lady is not going to be leaving with my book. Heath is short, pronounceable, easily memorable. I’m doing this for that lady’s benefit. One day she’ll thank me.
Three to get ready: I’m a writer and one of the goals of starting this blog is to build an author platform. I’m not published yet (not that it makes me less of a writer, but that whole “writers write” definition has been done to death, so let’s save it- I am a writer, damnit, now keep it moving). If I plan on publishing under a pseudonym, then I better make sure my fan base knows how to follow my work. Therefore, this is Danielle Heath’s blog. This is a professional blog to showcase my work as well as what I’ve learned/am learning about the craft and industry of fiction writing. When I do finally publish a full work (and I will), my fans/enablers will know which book is mine and agents/editors will see a committed writer with an established brand they can sell.
Four to go: I didn’t pull the name Heath out of a hat. A pseudonym shouldn’t be chosen simply because you think it’s awesome or it just sounds better than your name. I toyed with several names before settling on this one: my mother’s maiden name, my grandmother’s maiden name, anagrams of my real name, etc. I chose Heath because every time I use it I’m reminded of why I love literature, of who my influences are, and of what I want to accomplish. Heath is the nickname of one of the characters in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (Heathcliff, of course). It just happens to be my favorite book and the reason my undergrad Lit degree has a concentration in Victorian literature. I like to think that in a small way, I’m paying homage to the great writers who’ve come before me, especially women like the Brontë sisters who had a much harder road to publication than any of us in today’s age of technology and self-publishing.
So there it is, the explanation behind my pen name. There are many reasons why a writer might choose to do what I’m doing, but if you’re thinking about it yourself, make sure you’re doing it for the right ones.
PS- Dean Koontz has somewhere around 11 pseudonyms. Bonus points if you can name at least 3 without a Google search!