Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of pseudonyms is brought to you by Juliet Greenwood aka Heather Pardoe.
Being Two People At Once
I never thought I’d be two people. In fact, like most, I find it quite hard enough being one person, thank you very much. But one of the first things I learnt on the way to publication was that a writer needs to know her niche. In other words, she needs to find the genre – whether that is romantic suspense, literary, crime – she feels comfortable in. And if you write – or want to write – in more than one genre, then having more that one name is almost always obligatory.
Which is why I ended up being two people. And in future may even be three, or four. You never know!
My two novels, including ‘Eden’s Garden’ published on March 15th 2012 by Honno Press – are under my own name, Juliet Greenwood. The rest of my published work – the vast majority of my writing so far – has been published under my pen name: Heather Pardoe. In fact, the very first time I saw myself in print it was as Heather Pardoe.
With the first copies of ‘Eden’s Garden’ just arriving, friends are constantly asking me whether I find it strange seeing my name on a book. It is a strange feeling – strange and wonderful and still not quite completely believable, and part of that is having become used to seeing my name as a completely different one.
So why did I choose a pen name? It was ten years ago, when I was starting to have some success with short story competitions. I’d just joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s wonderful ‘New Writers’ Scheme’ and for the first time I was beginning to understand that being published is like any other career: unless you are very lucky you don’t go in at the top. You have to work your way up, and you might find yourself going in a different direction along the way.
Some writers start writing romance, but then find they feel more at home with crime, and visa versa. I wanted to start trying stories for magazines, but I realized from listening to the professional writers of the RNA that if I then moved into writing something completely different (next Lord of the Rings, anyone?) I would probably need a new name. So I decided to play it safe and send out stories under a pen name and keep my own name in case my novels – where I knew I wanted to go eventually – were ever published. And so Heather Pardoe was born.
Heather Pardoe isn’t exactly a made up name. I did realise that this might be my writing name for life, so I wanted something that was me as well as not me. If you see what I mean. Something I would feel comfortable answering to and signing. Heather is my middle name. For the first two weeks of my life it was my name: until my mother’s love of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ overwhelmed her favourite flower and I became Juliet Heather. ‘Pardoe’ is my grandmother’s family name: the utterly and totally determined grandmother who would never let being poor, female and working class stand in her five daughters’ way and bullied the headmaster of the local girls’ school into giving them an education, quotas or no quotas. Now that’s a name to stand up and cheer to!
And did I ever think of ‘Heather Pardoe’ as me? Not really. When I was sending out work to magazines I never told any of my family or friends what I was doing. It began to occur to me that this was a kind of freedom. No one ever need know. The whole trying to live up to a standard and be a ‘real’ writer (whatever that is) went out of the window. Finally, I began to do exactly what those professional women of the RNA had been advising: I wrote to the market. It was no longer about me or my ego, it was about getting a job done, fulfilling a brief, and doing it to the best of my ability. It is no coincidence that it was at that very time Heather Pardoe had her very first story accepted, a Christmas story for ‘The People’s Friend’.
I still have a scan of that very first cheque – the one that made me a professional author – hanging on my wall. And no, it’s not made out to Heather Pardoe. It’s made out to me. Heather Pardoe might be the name that’s on the story, but I always sign my submission letter or email as me.
Heather went on to write more stories, and then have six novelettes – that are now available in large print in libraries – published. The novelettes were all romantic adventures, mainly historicals with determined ladies in crinolines flying off in hot air balloons or taking to the skies in early bi-planes before trouncing the villain of the piece with pistols at dawn. They were huge fun to write, and taught me invaluable lessons in pace and plotting. Not to mention that small thing of writing stories that people actually want to read, and keep on reading to the end.
With the launch of Eden’s Garden just days away, I am very definitely Juliet Greenwood. But in one of those strange twists, it was one of my Heather Pardoe stories, this time for My Weekly, that was the original inspiration for ‘Eden’s Garden’. And having always thought of myself as a historical novelist, it was Heather’s success with the stories about modern family life and all its differing relationships that gave me the courage to try a contemporary novel. Although I have to confess I’ve cheated a little, as part of the story takes place in Victorian times, with the story of a very brave and determined woman – even though this time there’s not a hot air balloon in sight!
That was great! Thank you, Juliet… um, Heather.
Juliet Greenwood is the author of Eden’s Garden’, published by Honno Press on March 15th 2012. Under her pen name ‘Heather Pardoe’, she writes stories and serials for magazines. She lives in a traditional Welsh cottage on a hillside halfway between the romantic Isle of Anglesey and the beautiful mountains and ruined castles of Snowdonia.
After studying English at Lancaster University and King’s College, London, Juliet worked in a variety of jobs, from running a craft stall at Covent Garden Market to teaching English. She began writing seriously ten years ago, after a severe viral illness sent her from being fit and active to barely able to walk for several years, and left her struggling for even longer with M.E. / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It was a horrible, frightening experience, but it also made Juliet look with very clear eyes at her life and what she wanted to do with it.
Juliet is now well and back to dog walking and working in her beloved garden, becoming the proud owner of a small polytunnel, complete with a cutting from the Hampton Court vine. She lives in hope of grapes. Her dog lives in hope of more home-grown tomatoes. This is under severe discussion.
About Eden’s Garden:
2011: Carys’ dreams for the future are falling apart as she returns to the Snowdonia village where she was born, to look after her mother. But then a chance discovery draws her back into the story of Plas Eden, the huge, ramshackle country house where, at eighteen, she said goodbye to her childhood sweetheart, David Meredith.
1898: The last time Ann was in London she was a spoilt, aristocratic bride. Now she stands destitute on London bridge, with the Meredith charity hospital her only lifeline. But who can she trust, and will she ever escape her past?
Two women struggle with love, family duty, long-buried secrets and their own creative ambitions. But more than a hundred years ago Ann left a trail through London, Cornwall and Wales that leads Carys on a tantalising and increasingly shocking search for the truth.
What is Plas Eden’s connection with her own family history and what are the secrets of the statues in the garden?
‘A great romantic read and also a very atmospheric, ingenious mystery.’ Writing Magazine
‘This powerful and moving story… held me gripped.’ Trisha Ashley
‘Beautiful writing and a charming, intriguing story.’ Sue Moorcroft
‘Juliet’s characters are so believable and richly drawn the reader really cares what happens to them…’ Anne Bennett
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with historical novelist and multi-genre author Bryna Kranzler – the three hundred and tenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. And I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org.