January 27, 2011

Christopher Allen

Last week the lovely and talented Elle Strauss wrote an interesting blog in which she talked about why she decided to create a pen name. Her reasons made a lot of sense, mine won't.

For the last week I've been trying to come up with a good pen name, but all I could muster was Max Power. I found it strange that I couldn't think of anything because my brain is generally pretty good at coming up with random stuff that will be of little actual use. Today I realized why I was blocked: I have an unnatural obsession with my real name.

Unlike most kids, when I was in middle school I wasn't covering my notebooks with the name of any eighth grade crush. No, they were filled with the name of my only lover at the time: myself. I displayed textbook narcissism in all of my textbooks from an early age. Then it hit me, I can use at least part of my real name, just not all of it. My real name is Christopher Alan R***** but Alan doesn't sound very last namey so I'm going to go with Christopher Allen.

You're probably thinking to yourself why even have a pen name if you love your real name so much? Mostly because I don't want my mom to read blog posts like this, this and this. I know she Googles me, she's told me so. Now, onto the real reasons I think having a pen name will be cool.

I'm six feet tall and back problems run in my family. I don't plan on having a book published anytime soon but just in case I get on a trashy reality show and it leads to a book deal I want to be ready. When I walk into a bookstore to pick up a copy of my book the last thing I want to happen is that I throw out my back reaching for the bottom shelf where they keep all the R's. I'll be right on top with all the other A's.

One Night Stand Insurance. Now this is purely theoretical because I am a gentleman and a scholar, but, if by chance I'm out having a night on the town, hit the sauce a little too hard and pull out the incredibly shameful "I'm a writer and I'm in talks to have my novel turned into a movie" line I could use the name Christopher Allen. Then, the next morning, if I happen to find out that she owns more cats than pairs of panties I can sneak out without worrying about whether a friend request from her will pop on facebook the next day.

It'll make me feel like a bad-ass. The only time people ever call me Christopher Alan is when I'm in trouble. If people start calling me Christopher Allen all the time I'll feel like a bigger rebel than Brando in The Wild Ones (sorry folks Dean sucks).

So what do you think? Do you, or would you, use a pen name? If so, what would it be? Are there any cool reasons for having one that I'm forgetting about? 

UPDATE: So apparently Kris Allen is the name of the guy who won American Idol in 2009 which is really making me reconsider this name! When I went on Wikipedia I looked up Christopher Allen and Chris Allen and didn't really see anyone that famous, this is disappointing. 


  1. The story of my pen name was a love of wine, and bad puns... hence why my name sounds like "Que sera!"

    Christopher Allen does sound like an actor's name though. As for googling - All of my names are unique, therefore just going with a version of my name would still make it come up as a keyword.

    The ultimate reasons is that I'm not ready to write under my real name quite yet - when I reveal my identity (i'm positive that I will, one day), it'll be because I've decided that all my other jobs will take a back seat to writing.

  2. Arguendo and Dixi are definitely NOT our real names. I'm not sure why we were looking at latin terms, but when we came across them they just seem to fit our personal dynamic (and in a good way). Also, we have kids that we embarrass on a regular basis already and didn't figure we need to add more fuel to the fire!
    As for Christopher Allen, it sounds like a country/western singer to me. Give it time. You'll come up with something that fits.

  3. i like the idea of a pen name but i've never thought of it before.
    as for writing your name all over your books? i did/do that too!

  4. my full name is way too long to narrow it down. Plus I will not be publishing a book , ever. My life is not interesting enough for that, sadly.

  5. I've been trying to come up with a pen name for months. My real name is impossible for people to pronounce, (even for me!), and it will be equally hard for buyers of my future books to remember. But all the while I've hemmed and hawed over it, I've worked on building my online platform using my real name. *sigh* What to do? I'll probably end up doing what you did, and adopt a new last name while keeping my first. Less confusing, the better.

    I like Christopher Allen, both easy to pronounce and remember!

  6. Wanna hear something interesting, I think our online friendship was meant to be.

    When my mom was pregnant with me and my parents were deciding what my name should be my dad said " Daniella Robin" and my mom said " Robin? what's Robin? Why Robin?" And my dad replied " If she ever becomes a writer Daniella Robin would make a good name."

    And he must have had ESP because, well look at me.

    I like it, I have never been able to come up with a pen name ( well I haven't tried) Daniella Robin always worked for me. Like you I filled my notebooks with writing my own name over and over. I quite like it. The only problem I have with it is it sounds a little too dainty for my writing. But I'll take it anyway.

  7. my cat-to-panties ratio is none of your goddamn business, christopher allen! and i WILL find you and sit on your facebook.

    anyway, the one thing you forgot about having a nom de plume is that you can tell everyone you're a stripper.

  8. Thanks for the link, Christopher Allen! I like the sound of it, and with a long first name it's good to go with something shorter for a last name (not that I know how long your real last name is..)

    There's something "secret agent-ish" about having a name that not everyone knows..you have to get your thrills where you can! :)

  9. Actually, to reference Arguendo, didn't Kris Allen just win American Idol recently?

  10. I will ALWAYS go by pseudonyms online.
    My professional life and personal life could not withstand the potential problems caused by some of the blogs I’ve written over the years.

    For about 5 years, I wrote blogs under a different name – and used profile images of a friend who didn’t care about the consequences. (You and I were connected over on Yahoo! 360.)

    Now I’m using MY pics (such as they are), and a name closer to my real name.

    I find myself being more polite in my writing, though, so… I might have to go back.

  11. First and foremost, if you find a woman with more cats than panties...Hang onto her, she's a catch!

    As for "Christopher Allen" isn't that a guy from American Idol? You'll forever be the author that stole his name.

    My vote is for a name of epic proportions, such as "Augustus Maximus" or something of that nature. THERE'S a badass name.

  12. You're hilarious. The One Night Stand Insurance made me laugh out loud. Congratulations. ;)

    I think your pen name makes sense and it sounds like a serious author. I feel like I should be reading your essays in the New Yorker or something.

  13. K. Syrah: I have to say I have loved your pen name since I first saw it. Put a smile on my face. I didn't mention the professional sphere in this post but that is obviously a very big reason in why I don't use my real last name. Hell, I barely even use facebook because of career concerns.

    Arguendo and Dixi: Well, apparently from other comments I've gotten it sounds like the name of a country/western singer because it is. Not only that, one that won American Idol. So I'm seriously reconsidering at the moment.

    helen: Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I even carved it into a number of desks but I'm pretty sure everyone did that.

    Victoria: Neither is mine! That's part of the fun of it, making up an interesting character to live vicariously through. I'm not really planning on getting published anytime soon either, just sounded like a fun thing to do.

  14. Nicole: I know if I even attempted to say your name out loud I would completely butcher it. I know this because I just tried. It reminds me of Dulce though, which is Spanish for Candy. Still more a stripper name then a pen name, sorry I couldn't be of more help!

    Penny: Ha. That's pretty funny, and yes I agree, we were definitely destined to be internet buddies.

    Kage: I've already told people I was a stripper. Although, they've never believed me before. Gotta get myself some wash board abs and body oil first.

    Elle: I'm glad you like it! Although, I looked it up and yes Kris Allen won American Idol in 2009 which kind of makes me pause. When I looked up the name on Wikipedia I only checked Chris and Christopher, darn K's.

  15. KatyDid: I was wondering if I'd ever connect with anyone from the 360 days! And yea, while my mom would get over it, losing a job over a blog would really be pointless. I like the freedom of anonymity.

    MrsCaptKerk: That just totally ruins the name for me. I really need to rethink this now. Stupid American Idol! Foiled me again. I googled Chris and Christopher but the one from Idol starts with a K so I didn't notice!

    Jennifer: I'm glad you got a kick out of that. Oh, and you should let the New Yorker know that they should give me a job.

  16. I think you have the most perfect reasons. Plus, it's also good to try out a name so remarkably different from you own... :P

    But I don't need a pen name. I mean, come on, have you SEEN my name? Growing up, I thought my parents must hate me for giving me that name (plus my ridiculously long middle name, so that my entire name took up two lines on a page). But now it seems to suit the name of an author. Or not. I don't know. But there aren't many with my name.

  17. I did that too - Doodling my name over and over on the last pages of all my books. I still do it! How self obsessed am I :P

    Christopher Allen has a nice sound to it!

    First time here, and now I'm gonna go check out the here,here and here posts first!

  18. Oh I meant this, this and this. I misread!

  19. Love the one night stand insurance!
    I don't think you have to worry about Kris Allen as most people seem to have forgotten him and he doesn't really seem to have much of a career.
    I like the name Christopher Allen a lot. It suits you.

  20. Oh crap, so you're saying the guy I was with last night really DOESN'T have a movie deal on his book I've never heard of before? ;o)

    Funny thing, because I already decided I would make my middle name my "last" name for publishing purposes if my future agent feels my last name is too difficult for people to remember. Time will tell. First I have to get the agent.

  21. This might've been mentioned in the 8-thousand comments above me but.... Christopher and Kris bear ZERO resemblance to each other. One is a man's name, a respectable name, a name of weight. The other could be used by a 5-year old girl and nobody'd blink twice.

    Pen names.....I've never considered. I would want a first name that starts with a Z. Zoastra comes to mind, and I don't know why. Zoastra Smith. haha, no. Zoastra Bettinger. There!

  22. Wait you are disappointed there is not already a famous Chris Allen?! Isn't this a good thing... as you can be the first? I like pen names, my dad had one. And I'd consider one, especially now that I've lost my maiden name, I'm not the only person on the planet with my new name, and THAT disappoints me.

  23. I have a pen name, and I love having one! It's a sense of freedom. Enjoy your alternate identity! :)

  24. Carol: I think you have a beautiful name. It's a unique jumble of very different things that work together very well, which, interestingly enough, sort of reminds me of your personality.

    Apfel: First off welcome to my blog and I'm also glad I'm not the only one to do that. Come back anytime!

    Robyn: Well I'm glad to hear that his career flopped. Which is pretty mean I suppose, but he shouldn't have stole the name that I just made up.

    Tracy: Yea, no agent here either. Or you know, even a book. Which means none of this really matters at all but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

  25. Sarah: That's a very good point. I guess the K does make that name rather effeminate. I do like Zoastra, that would be an awesome first name. Bettinger adds a bit of class too, or maybe a gambling addiction, I'm not sure.

    City Girl: No no, I'm happy. I was disappointed that there was a famous Kris Allen and he was on American Idol, sort of makes my stomach turn.

    Talli: You've got a great one too. I think I will rather enjoy it!


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