Guest Post: Edith Maxwell

Today we welcome back Mysteristas friend Edith Max…um Maddie D…uh, well, we’ll let her explain.

The Deception – or Not – of Using Many Names

grilled-for-murderEdith Maxwell here. Also known as Maddie Day and Lauren Rousseau in the mystery world, as Max or Mom or Ms to several of my dearest loves, as well as Auntie Max. I’ve been called Doctor Mexlar, Mrs. Hutchison-Maxwell, and Edie.

Wha? How can one person have so many names? I’ll explain. But first I want to thank Mary for inviting me over to join the fabulous Mysteristas today. And second I want to kick myself for agreeing to write a post about deception…on one of the last days of a month of excellent posts by mystery authors about deception, where all the ideas I’d had for the post have already been covered.

So let’s talk names.

My first multi-book publishing contract, with Kensington Publishing,murder-most-fowl specified I couldn’t publish other mysteries as Edith Maxwell. “A small press is about to offer me a contract for my very first mystery,” I wailed to my agent. We went through the publisher’s lawyer, who said I’d have to use a pen name for that one. Thus was Tace Baker born.

After several books in the Local Foods Mysteries, my Kensington editor bought my proposal for the Country Store Mysteries series … if I would use a pen name. My agent said he wanted it to look like a debut author in the bookstores. I agreed, of course, giving birth to Maddie Day (who might be writing series…just saying).

delivering-the-truthcoverBut I’m hard not to deceive readers. Kensington never said I couldn’t link all the names, and I do. My web site features all my identities and series. I was glad when I learned my historical Quaker Midwife Mysteries could be published as Edith Maxwell, though – it’s the name I’ve had all my life and I’m kind of partial to it.

What about all those other names? What prompted my beau (and consquently his whole family) to call me Max? Why do my best friend and I address each other as Ms? And…who is Dr. Mexlar? Am I really trying to deceive the world? Of course not. I will say I was never legally Mrs. Hutchison-Maxwell, and now I’m no longer a Mrs, so you won’t hear that one anymore. Mom is obvious. And the nickname Edie is strictly reserved for people I grew up with in California. For the other names, I don’t have time here to explain them. But buy me a glass of wine next time you see me and I’ll be happy to!

Readers, what are your various aliases? Do you find it confusing or misleading when an author you like goes by one or more pseudonym? I’ll give away one of my three latest mysteries – your choice – to one commenter today! You can pick among Murder Most Fowl (Local Foods mystery #4), Grilled for Murder (Country Store mystery #2), or Delivering the Truth (Quaker Midwife mystery #1).

*****

maddiedayAgatha-nominated and bestselling author Edith Maxwell writes the historical Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and the Country Store Mysteries (as Maddie Day), as well as award-winning short crime fiction. The Vice-President of Sisters in Crime New England, Maxwell lives north of Boston with her beau, three cats, and an impressive array of garden statuary. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors, at Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink writers.

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11 thoughts on “Guest Post: Edith Maxwell”

  1. Hi Edith! I find the use of multiple pen names to be specific to cozy mysteries. I don’t see this happening (as much?) in other genres. Am I wrong? Whatever name you use, your books are awesome!

  2. Well, there’s Mary, Mary Beth (used by family to distinguish me from my mother when I was growing up), Lederman (at the college newspaper office), Mrs. Sutton, and Mom (of course). I picked up Liz Milliron when I sold my first mystery because I had published some middle-grade stories with a niche publisher (now gone belly up) and I wanted to separate the two areas of writing. But like you, Edith, I don’t hide it – it’s all over my website. Bouchercon in NOLA gave me the first reason to have Liz Milliron on a name tag though and I gave me a start whenever someone referred to me as Liz! LOL

  3. Great post! You know I was wondering why people use pen names. Now I know! I don’t mind Mom and Grandma but It makes me insane when people play with me first name. Six letters. Two syllables. And I didn’t change my name any of the times I got married. It’s medieval. What? You become a different person when you get married. I hope not!

  4. Great reasons for pen names! I use them, too, mostly for fun but also to help readers separate out the different genres I write in. Good luck juggling all those series! I would love to know more about how you do that.

  5. Great post, Edith! It was interesting to read about the reasons for your different pseudonyms… I’d heard of this when authors wanted to cross genres but didn’t know it happened so much when writing within one genre. As a reader, I don’t find it terribly confusing when authors use pseudonyms, especially when, like you, they make it easy and link to all their work! 🙂

  6. Hum, I’m Kim, Kimmer, Kiwi, Kait, Honeydo, and a variety of other names as well. Only my parents called me Kimmy and lived. Oh wait, to my grade school friends, I’m Rocky. Yes, that would be flying squirrel Rocky. Obviously, Kait Carson is not my birth name, but a name I gave birth to. I did it to protect innocent lawyers, really! I’m open about using a pen name, although Kim is not on my webpage.

    I don’t know about you, Edith, but I find the pen name freeing. Kait can do things that Kim would never do, and Kait often gives Kim ideas and courage. It’s a fun dual personality.

    How about you? Do you find your multiple personalities each bring something different to the table?

  7. First of all, before I forget… Keenan, “any” of the times you got married? I suspect there are some stories there!

    I’ll never say never, but sometimes I feel as if I’m pushing that fraud envelope enough pretending to be a writer. Putting a fake name on the cover of a fake book might be more than I can answer to. 😉

    My sister goes by a different name than the one I’ve always known. I try, in professional situations (she’s also an author) to remember the name she’s chosen, but there’s no way on earth I’ll ever think of her, or call her, anything other than her given name. I think our mom kinda likes that.

  8. I have heard of authors traditionally using pen names to write in a very different genre: from erotica to cozy, or from noir to romance.

    Thanks to everbody for stopping by!

  9. When I married my second/third husband, I tried to change my last name to McElroy, but I just couldn’t write it. Besides, my kids were all Lowes, and it’s my professional name, so I kept it. I’d hate to tell you some of the other names I’ve been called 🙂
    Thanks for a fun post, Edith. Or whoever you claim to be, lol.

  10. Some people know me by my first name and some by my middle name. I had a friend who called me by my last name in HS.

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