Monday, 3 January 2011


by Leigh Russell

First of all, I’d like to wish everyone a very HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Secondly, at the risk of sounding like A A Milne, welcome to James, James, Max and Peter to the Curzon Group - 3for1 beating even the 3for2 beloved of Waterstones.
Pseudonyms are a funny idea, really, aren’t they? I wonder how many authors write under their real names? I can understand starting a fresh series, or writing a different kind of book, under a new name. But why do so many of us write the first book under a false name? Is it the alphabetical placing on the shelves? (And why didn’t I think of that before I chose a surname beginning with R?)
When I started out – not long ago - my publisher asked me to use an androgynous name in case my own name put some male readers off. (JK Rowling wasn’t allowed to publish as Joanna because no boy would have touched her books, but surely 21st century males are more open minded....?)
As it happens I was happy to write under a pen name, in case my books flopped. Thankfully that didn’t happen so (issues of vanity aside) I’m now quite happy to have my photo published in my books and all over the internet (not happy with the photos – must get my hair cut… but happy to emerge from my own closet of privacy.)
Many reasons are cited for using pseudonyms but if we’re honest, how many of us start out hiding behind assumed names, in case it all goes wrong and our books don’t sell?
That said, juggling not one but three names – four if you include the ‘real’ one – is a feat in itself. As a fan of James Barrington, James Becker, and Max Adams the authors, I have to admit I’m also in awe of Peter Stuart Smith for running the show from behind the scenes. So, out of the closet and into the Curzon gang - welcome to all three and one of you!


  1. By Peter Stuart Smith

    Hi Leigh, and many thanks for the welcome. In my case, I started using a pseudonym mainly because I thought that 'Peter Stuart Smith' was a moderately dull and boring name – my apologies to any other Peter Stuart Smiths who are out there reading this – and the last thing any author wants to do is bore the reader before he's even bought the book.
    Once 'James Barrington' became established as a mainstream thriller writer, I obviously needed new names for the new genres, hence the multiplicity of publishers and writers.
    Only in the last case – Max Adams – was the name chosen for me. According to my editor at Macmillan, the cover design people think they can do interesting things with the 'X' of Max, in a WW2 context. I've toyed with the idea of writing simply as me, but right now I don't have the time!

  2. I started out as Michael Parker, my real name, and still write as Michael Parker, despite my family telling me that I should use a different name. I'm of the old fashioned persuasion that you should be proud of your acheivements and happy to put your name to them. I suppose I could have called myself Mickey (Spillane?), but then people might have thought I was a footballer!

  3. Michael Parker's a good name and in some ways I really agree with you, Michael. That said, I was happy to 'hide' behind a pseudonym to begin with. As a teacher, I didn't want my pupils necessarily to know about my 'other life'. Of course they all know now, but as my books are proving popular, I don't really mind who knows about them! A certain irony in your posting as anonymous, btw.