Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Jess Michaels | “What’s in a Name?”

August 29, 2007

Jess MichaelsWell, I’m back! But this time it’s under my other name. Yes, that’s right, I’m one of those schizophrenic authors who has two names (actually three if you count my real name, which I really should since if I don’t that’s kind of scary). You already met and talked to me as Jenna Petersen earlier this month.

Jenna writes historical romances for Avon. They are Regency-set and sensual. I hope they are also highly emotional and dark. That’s what I strive for, anyway, so if you like that sort of thing… well, look me up!

But Jess… ah, Jess. She’s a whole other beast. Yes, she still writes highly emotional and dark stories, but she crosses over that sensual line and into the erotic. So if you like your love scenes a bit more adventurous and detailed, but you still want a story in there, too, Jess might be your girl. Luckily, both my names have books out in the next two months (Seduction Is Forever in October from Jenna, Everything Forbidden in November from Jess).

It’s kind of weird being two (or three) people all at once. First off, there’s the name calling. Not that kind of name calling. I mean, remembering to answer to all my names at booksignings or conferences. Sometimes I start to get so turned around that I’ll answer to anything that sounds remotely like my name (Julie, Jenny, Bess, etc). There’s also the name signing. A few weeks ago I panicked because I realized I had signed an ARC of Everything Forbidden as Jenna Petersen instead of Jess Michaels. Does that make it a collectors item?

There are advantages to having different names, though. For one thing, you get to pick your name. Which you hardly ever get to do in real life. No one waits to name their child until they have a free will. Funny how that works. Also, there is the ‘putting on’ of a name. I think my “Jenna” personality is pretty much all the best things about my real personality, but I leave the not so nice things behind. So when you meet Jenna, you get the very best of me.

The process of picking a pen name can be quite arduous. I picked Jess Michaels because it combines a portion of my real name and my husband’s name. Jenna Petersen was harder. I actually spent quite a few days sending potential names back and forth with my agent, trying to find the one that fit best. Some of the rejects were Lanie Hayes (variations of my maternal grandmothers’ maiden names), Jess Petersen (too masculine) and about twenty more that I’ve blocked out entirely. But we settled on Jenna and I have grown accustomed to it over the past few years.

So what about you? If you could pick a new name for yourself, would you do it? How would you pick it? I’ll pick one commenter to win an Advanced Reader Copy of Everything Forbidden (and I’ll try to sign it with the RIGHT name this time).

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