Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Melinda Hammond : Pseudonyms and split personalities

Okay, I'm going to come clean.  I am more than one person. That is, I write under different names, but does this mean I have different personas inside, each fighting for supremacy?  I suppose it might do, a bit, but you'd have to ask my friends about that!

When I started writing I thought Melinda Hammond was a great name – glamorous, romantic but dignified enough for an author of, ahem, Historical Novels.  Then as I progressed my writing style developed and I found myself writing historical romances that were in the vein of Heyer's Regencies, light-hearted fun but stopping at the bedroom door. Novels like  DANCE FOR A DIAMOND, which I have just published as an e-book.  It is a comedy of manners set in the Regency, which would these days be called a "sweet" romance. I also wrote a couple of dual time stories (Moonshadows and Casting Samson) set partly in the present and partly in the past and I am currently working on an historical series. So Melinda Hammond writes both historical novels and Regency Romances, quite different types of books.

Then, to complicate things,  I began to write for Harlequin Historicals and I wanted the stories to be a bit hotter, a bit more passionate, so I chose another name: Sarah Mallory.  Of course the sensuality rating does depend on the context of the story, but all my Sarah Mallory books definitely have scenes inside the bedroom (or on the moors, or in a carriage, or over a desk, etc etc). I think Sarah Mallory is now a "brand" name for the kind of sensual romantic historicals that I write for Harlequin.

So which is the real me?  Well, it depends on the story I am currently writing. I love a good adventure romance but I also like the comedy of manners scenario. The main thing for both is that the history in the stories is very important for me, whether it is a sizzling Regency as Sarah Mallory or a Georgian mystery as Melinda Hammond. So I am always a serious historical novelist, even if I do have my lighter moments!
And what about you? Do you prefer the sexy romance or the sweeter kind, or are you like me and enjoy a wide range of stories, as long as they are well written and entertaining.  And what about author names, do you think it helps for writers to choose different names for different genres? I'd love to know, so please leave a comment.

Giveaway: one person leaving a comment will receive a copy of either the hardback version of Dance for a Diamond, or my latest Sarah Mallory novel – At the Highwayman's Pleasure, so do, please make sure you let me know which you would prefer! 

***Melinda's winner is Petite!  Please email with your mailing details!***


Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you, Sarah and Melinda. I prefer sweet romances for two reasons.

One, sex scenes bore me. The time when they could have thrilled me is long past. What's going on in the characters' hearts and minds is far more interesting than what goes on further south.

Two, if the author devotes much of her word count to detailed sexual activity, it implies, intentionally or not, that this is all these two characters have going for their relationship. I'd rather read about couples who come and stay together for better reasons. Or at least those that make for more interesting stories.

Of course, if I want to read a romance and it contains sex scenes, I will anyhow. I always have the option of skipping them.

As for an author using different names in different genres, I suppose that helps to brand an author. But it sure gets confusing for the reader! It's a practice that benefits the publisher. So it's here to stay.

Good luck with the release of "Dance for a Diamond"!

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thanks, Mary Anne - I thought I had commented on this but it doesn't seem to have come through - so apologies if this is duplication!

I think lots of people share your views - I like my hero and heroine to be best friends, as well as lovers. Different stories need different approaches, too.

For me its the author's voice that is important: if there are scenes I don't like - sex, violence etc., then I can skip them: the story's the thing!

traveler said...

I enjoy novels that explore the characters depth, their minds and their relationships. Sex is not integral to the story and can be dispensed with. I think that two names for a writer is lovely when being creative and having two types of genres. Dance for a Diamond looks compelling and captivating.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thank you! I loved writing Dance for a Diamond, after finding out about the waltz craze that swept Europe in the early 19th century. It's structure - slow start, building to an exciting finish, seemed perfect for a novel.

petite said...

Dance for a Diamond would be memorable and wonderful. Thanks. Mentioning the historical component is vital to me as well as characters that contribute a great deal to the book, their family, their background and the interaction. Best wishes.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Oh dear, I have tried three times to reply - let's hope it works this time.

Good luck, "Petite". I love adding historical background to my books. I am not a historian, but a storyteller who loves history!

Laney4 said...

I think along similar lines to Mary Anne above. If I find sex scenes too explicit or they just go on and on forever, I skip through those pages. That being said, I HAVE enjoyed a few erotic books in my time. To me, variety is definitely the spice of at least my reading pleasure. My favourite stories are where I can giggle or laugh throughout, especially with witty banter between the hero and heroine. One that made a huge impression on me was where it had me laughing out loud in a clinic waiting room, and yet a mere six pages later had me tearing up. Now THAT is hard to write, I would imagine, but the author did it well. To me, for the majority of the time, it's not WHAT you write, but HOW you write it instead.

Laney4 said...

Whoops. Silly me....
Since I haven't read any books by Susan/Melinda, I would probably prefer starting with AT THE HIGHWAYMAN'S PLEASURE.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thanks for your comment, Laney4. I totally agree, it's the writing that makes the difference!

erin said...

Congrats on the success of all your "people" :) LOL.. I look for story and character strength. As long as it enhances the story, I'm all for smexy times but I like for it to be relevant to the characters; otherwise, it's a big jarring and sometimes kicks me out of the story. Thanks so much for sharing and you know what?! I prefer either book :)

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

Well, I'd love to go through tlife as many different people... which we all are... by showing different sides under various circumstances.... I'd love to read the Dance for a Diamond.
Congrats on all your various successes!!

Connie said...

I tend to lean toward the sweeter romances more than the sizzling, jump-the-bones, red-hot romances. In that vein, I would love to read, review and promote your novel "Dance for a Diamond" on our blog, bookworm2bookworm.

There are other authors who write different types of novels under a pseudonym. I am always awed by an author who can be multi-talented like that. Congratulations!

Laurie G said...

I'm afraid I don't see the need for writing under a pen name. If I already like an author I will follow them into other genres. I like to know that it's the same author because sometimes I've missed out on an author's book due to the different pen name. i know advertising the connection helps but it does get confusing for avid readers to keep them all straight.

However, if an author feels more comfortable with different names for different genres it won't keep me from buying their books. I had no idea you wrote under two names.

I would love to read your Sarah Mallory book, AT THE HIGHWAYMAN'S PLEASURE. I read a wide variety of books. It really depends on my mood. I prefer a bit of spice with my romances.

Thanks for the heads up on your duo identities. I will look for your books.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thank you, everyone, it is so interesting to read all your views. Personally, I would prefer just to keep one name and write lots of different books, but I know from experience that some readers are disappointed if they buy a book, thinking it will be in the same vein as a previous one. I try to make it obvious from the blurb that books are different, but sometimes a different name is like a brand that will flag up to a reader that the book will be a certain kind. My Sarah Mallory novels are slightly spicier romances for Harlequin. Melinda Hammon novels - well, the reader will have to look at the description. The Regencies might be sweet, but I reserve the right to create a number of different books under that name. However, my ultimate aim is to entertain.

Renee said...

I think authors should be able to write whatever they want. Sometimes, having different pen names helps a person know what they are getting. If the person goes to the author's website, they may find another genre of writing by that author that they like. As long as the reader gets what he wants, we're all happy, happy, happy!

Mary Preston said...

I do sometimes think I miss out on all of an author's works because I don't know all of their aliases. If I know I can chase them all up.

I'd love to read " At the Highwayman's Pleasure" thank you.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

I love the idea of being happy, Renee! As for finding an author's work, my website has both my names clearly marked, so readers should be able to find everything! Thanks for dropping by, everyone!