The Importance of a NAME


I was talking with one of my agents (the *not-so-warm-and-fuzzy* one) about writer names. To this point, I’ve been lucky to use names of my own, not that Hunter was mine from birth, but I was lucky enough to marry into it. And not that my family name is awful, but it is odd. There are 50,000 people with my family name in the US and only half of us pronounce it correctly. Prater, with a long A. Not a short A, all nasally. I was definitely not going to write with a potentially-nasally name. *Shudders.*

I wanted to start my career with Faith Hunter, but it sounded soooo made up. A mystery / thriller / blood-guts-and-gore writer named Faith Hunter? (Sounds of *not-so-warm-and-fuzzy* agent blowing a raspberry.)

Even more difficult, however, was the choice of a name for my fantasy writing. I mean, come on, a fantasy writer with the name of Faith Hunter? One who writes about a world with winged, *holy* beings of immeasurable power? Like in the Bible? Faith? Hunter? How hokey is that? But I liked it. It was mine, by a twist of fate and romance. I had to push the idea, but I got my wish on that one.

Others in this group have great writer names. Catie went with C.E., David went with … David. Misty Massey’s name sounds made up but it’s really hers, also with the benefit of fate and romance. (Waves at Philip McAvery, Rogue About Town and mind-blowing poet.) Just curious, but – any reason why each of you chose to write with the name you did? Did you consider another? Are you happy with your choice? I have writer friends with several names, for privacy’s sake.

Now, however, it is time to change my mystery writing career around a bit, take it in a new direction, and give it a kick in the butt. I am liking the idea, let me tell you. A new name with pizzazz, a different slant on the writing, maybe a sports, outdoors series, or a belly-dancing sleuth. Or something. And that means a new name. One that carries the feeling of the writing in it. Like, if I was doing a series set on the high seas, I’d be Davie Yada Yada Jones. Or writing about a belly dancing sleuth, I’d be Valletta or Sapphire or Yasmine, with a character named something equally exotic.

So, any ideas guys? I’m leaning for the outdoors stuff. Multiple third person POV, with both the male and female lead characters having their POV used. I’d start with a kayaking story, natch, and then move to hiking or horseback trail-riding into the wilderness. What kinda a name? I’m open to ideas…



16 comments to The Importance of a NAME

  • Faith asked: “Just curious, but – any reason why each of you chose to write with the name you did?”

    As many identities as I juggle for faire, gaming and dance, when it came to the writing I needed people to understand that this book came from me, and the simplest way to do that was to publish under my own, real name.

    Not to mention I just loved the alliterative sound of all those M’s and S’s. *grin*

    Faith also asked: “So, any ideas guys? I’m leaning for the outdoors stuff.”

    Oh my … well, I’d probably go for the All-American, short name. Anne, maybe or Abby. Or how about Gem?

  • I used to know a few local radio personalities (before that job was outsourced across the country, dontgetmestarted…) and two of them used as their “DJ Name” an inverted version of their real name, e.g. Philip Woods became “Woody Philips”.

    My Real name is.. *deep breath* .. Thomas St. Francis Gibson, abbreviated canonization and all. (My parents will someday be forgiven.) I always thought my “DJ Name” (I have always wanted to be on the radio) would be “Gilbert Thomas”. Or my pen name could use the Classic multiple initials, and be “T.S.F. Gibson”

    So What about Something like, “Hunter Gwenn”? or “Hunter Forth”? It’s a little androgynous, so people might think you were a guy, but I don’t know if that is an asset or a liability for you, given the multi-gender POV thing you mentioned doing.

  • I like Abby!

    And OMG, Frank. And you intend to forgive them???

    Okay — deep dark dirty secret. Mom wanted to name me Vernalene. Stop laughing. I think that was how she was going to spell it.


  • My parents chose “Misty” because it was the song they danced to when they were dating. My daddy loves to tell people that they almost named me “Green Fields” (another song they danced to) instead. If I ever need a pseudonym, at least I’ve got an option! 😀

  • Ooh, “Misty Fields”! That would be memorable.

    A little reader input here: I came to this site through David’s, and when I was brand-spanking new to the site, I happened to be in a bookstore, and thought “I should see if they have any books by any of David’s Co-bloggers from that new ‘Magical Words’ blog!”

    I went down the alphabetical-by-last-name rows of shelves, looking for “Faith Hunter”, and … ummm… the other one, starts with “M”…..and… uh…. oh, who were those other two? That gargoyle book sounded cool, what was her name?

    So Faith, don’t for a second doubt that your name choice was a good one. Your name stuck out of the pack when I had only seen it once or twice.

    C.E. and Misty, don’t worry – I have since learned your names, and BTW, the bookstore didn’t have any of your books, nor Faith’s, anyway. (it was a very small bookstore)

  • Mark Wise

    I have thought about changing my name since I think mine is about as exciting as John Smith. However, for my first books, I would like it to be my real name since there is just something about seeing YOUR name on a book. It’s a psychological thing.

    As for a new name, Faith. You want an outdoorsy name? How about “Gaia Coleman”?

  • I like Gaia Coleman…light of the earth? Or maybe … *grins* … the tin woman on fire?

    And if your name is really Mark Wise, I think that is a wonderful name for a writer!

    And Frank, you made my day!

  • I write under C.E. because I don’t think “Catie” is a grown-up enough name to put on adult novels, and because I do not like being called “Catherine”, which is my full name. I was whining about this and a friend suggested I use “C.E.”, which seemed like a great idea. My editor at Luna, who doesn’t like people writing under initials (because we get titchy about the spacing), tried to talk me into using “Catherine”, which is a name she likes a lot, but fortunately for my willpower I’d already registered, so stuck to my guns. 🙂

    I used “Cate Dermody” for my Bombshells because I thought it sounded like a good romance writer’s name. It was my grandmother’s maiden name. I’ll use “Catie Murphy” when I get my YA stuff published (although I anticipate a fight over that) and if I ever branch into straight mystery, as I’d like to, I’ll use “Cate Malone” (my grandmother’s married name!) then.

    I also have this big thing about branding, which is why I’m willing to use a lot of different names. I don’t care if everybody knows it’s one person writing under different names, but I want people to be able to expect certain things from certain bylines.

    Faith, if I were you, I’d stick with the “Hunter” last name for mystery books. I think it’d suit. Maybe you could use your initials?


  • Coming late to the discussion. Sorry. Crazy week. David B. Coe, was a no-brainer. A) It’s my real name. B) Using the full middle name (Bartels (Family name from Holland) would make the whole thing too long. C) Leave out the middle initial and it’s too short, plus people might confuse me with country singer and ex-convict David Allen Coe. Didn’t want that at all.

    Faith, I’d be reluctant to change names at all if I were you. You’ve built up a readership. Every time you put out a book you’re guaranteed a certain number of sales. Build on that. Sure you’re changing directions. That’s fine. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t bring your fans along with you and continue to build that fan base. Trust your fans to trust you. That would be my two cents.

  • David said: “…plus people might confuse me with country singer and ex-convict David Allen Coe.”

    David Allen Coe recorded one of the only country songs I actually like enough to know the words to – You Never Even Called Me By My Name!

    Sorry, I just thought that was a wacky coincidence. 😀

  • Judy

    Since you often paddle on the Pigeon River, how about Pigeon Toed! <>

    Sorry, I’m being silly today and I couldn’t resist!

  • *snicker*
    Thank you for your thoughts, ya’ll!
    Catie, I knew you wrote for Bombshell, but I had no idea about the other stuff. You are very right about branding. My mystery readers (Gwen Hunter Fans) look at Faith’s work and say (and I quote one) “Why in the world do you want to write that stuff? What is it anyway?” Then they shake their heads as if I have lost mine.

  • Faith, I think your name is one of the cooler ones and well it quite fits with the holy beings you write about. I mean faith is belief and well having faith is really well tied to the Bible.

    I would really like to change my name once I get published with a novel, should have used a different one with all the submissions of short stories. It sounds way too foreign. Who will buy anything written by Haralambi Markov. I was thinking of something like Nathan Forest.

  • Now, I would SO buy a book by an author named Haralambi Markov – that name alone inspires a certain exotic appeal.

    But if you’ve been advised to change it, Nathan Forest is a good choice.

  • *raises hand* I vote for belly dancing sleuth!!!

  • Hi Lisa! My new character (new series) Jane Yellowrock belly dances…
    in New Orleans.
    And she’s a shapeshifterer…