The New Me

Aside from entering the Witness Protection Program, one rarely gets the opportunity to change

her identity. But that’s what I agreed to do regarding a 2- book contract for my new mystery series starring Carrie Singleton, Clover Ridge Library’s new head of programs and events. The idea bothered me at first. I’ve been Marilyn Levinson since I married many years ago. Why should I, at this stage of my life, have to interact with my readers as someone else? I wasn’t an identity thief or a striptease artist intent on adapting a more respectable lifestyle. I was a writer, and I’d published all my mysteries, romance suspense novels, and kids’ books under my own name.

Then I remembered how, when I was in elementary school, I’d spent hours dreaming up a pseudonym for myself for when I’d became a famous author. I remember deciding my first name would Brenda— perhaps after the comic strip reporter Brenda Starr. I can’t, for the life of me, remember which second name I’d chosen all those years ago. No matter. I had a fresh slate before me.

As a fiction writer, I’m used to choosing names. I have to. Every new novel includes a cast of characters. And every character, regardless of his/her importance, requires a name. I have a tendency to call my female sleuths names that end in the letter a—Lydia, Alexa, Gabriela—though they often have nicknames: Lexie, Gabbie. But I digress.

Allison Brook, I thought. Nice. But should I opt for the first name that came into my head?

I turned to my baby book of names. What should I choose? How should I choose? Names I liked the sound of? Names similar to my own? A combination of the two.

Lynne Levin? That was like Marilyn Levinson. A possibility.

One friend suggested Lynn Holbrook. I found it disconcerting since I live in Holbrook. Which is probably why she thought of it.

People, I discovered, have strong associations with names. I’d no sooner mentioned Marisa to my boyfriend, when he rejected it because he didn’t like someone with that name.

Lindsay Lewis appealed to me, but alas! I checked it out on Amazon and saw there already is an author with that name.

“What names do you like?” one author friend asked. I said I loved Karen Meredith, which was what I would have named my daughter if I’d had a daughter instead of two sons. But after all this time the name has lost its appeal. Darn! Back to the drawing board.

Allison Brook had the vote of most of my writer friends. I still wasn’t sure. One friend suggested, “Draw it out of a hat.” The way things were going, that was beginning to make sense.

Finally, I called my agent and presented her with two choices. Dawn thought. “Allison Brook,” she decided. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Allison Brook it is.”

Do you have a pseudonym? How did you choose it?