During Easter Weekend, my daughter home visiting from college asked me, “Why didn’t you use dad’s name as your name for writing your book?” She wanted to know why I used my maiden name as my author name instead of my married name.
It is difficult as a woman to know what to do about the name game in this day and age. I have been my married name for 20 years now. It adorned my Army uniforms and every signature on every document since 1996. It is my legal name, the name on my Last Will & Testament, my Facebook name, the name on the back of my old soccer uniform.
Professionally in my job/career and in my “real life,” I am known as my married name. It is Dutch and people don’t know how to pronounce it or spell it correctly. They may glance at it and think it’s Asian. I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked if I’m Korean. Um, no?
When I decided to write a story and then put a novel out there to the world, I realized that I wanted to have a different identity all together for that new endeavor. I didn’t want a pen name per se, like some people do. I didn’t want to hide the fact that I’m a woman by using just initials or some unisex name, like some women authors do. I still wanted to be me – but also someone else. Kind of like writing a novel – creating an alternate world with fictional people and events.
I chose to use my full given name, the one on the yellowing, crumpled birth certificate from Trenton, New Jersey. This was the name my parents gave me. It is a unique name; not everyone gets to be named “Dori.” While I had no barrettes or pens or key chains with my name on it, and that was infuriating when you’re twelve, I do appreciate that it stands out from all the Jennifers and Michelles out there of my day. It was exciting when I came across the books about Dorrie the Witch and even more exciting when Finding Nemo came out with a good loyal pal named Dory. Once in awhile I meet a Dori/Dorrie/Dorri/Dory/Dorie but these women are usually named something else, like Dorinda or Dorothy or Doris. My name is actually just Dori.
My author name also carries my father’s last name, which adds a touch of the exotic due to the French and the accent aigu over the e (é). It is also a way for me to keep his name alive, since he has no male grandchildren and was the only son. The name will die with my brother (hopefully a long, long time from now) but now, it will remain alive in the archives of published American books. It does have an ISBN after all.
What kind of name do you use for your writing and why?