What’s in a Name? Hiding behind a Pseudonym

I have just subscribed to Alexis Kanda-Olmstead’s WordPress blog @

Alexis Kanda-Olmstead … no longer anonymous

www.alexiskanda-olmstead.com having read the following piece

No Longer Anonymous: Alexis Kanda-Olmstead Overcomes the Terror of the Publish Button

When Alexis first started blogging she used a pseudonym. And why did she feel the need to use one?  Because she was using a few well-chosen expletives in her writing and valued her high-profile job in education … as well as not wanting any disapproving moms cancelling playdates with her children.

Which brings me to Tessa Barrie.  Yes, she is me and I am her.  I have been hiding behind the name Tessa Barrie since I was 18.  Why?  For similar reasons to Alexis’s.  When I first started writing for local publications, writing under my real name was fine when reporting on the theatre, art and social soirees etc.  But there was a great deal more I wanted to write about and I was terrified my mother would read these articles.  She would not have approved of her shy, retiring daughter’s unexpurgated views on subjects not normally considered de rigueur in rural Gloucestershire during the 1970’s.  After that, it kind of stuck.

I found that writing under a pseudonym was liberating.  Initially I was known as Serendipity.  Then, with a little help from my friends, I morphed into Tessa Barrie.  Tessa (after my much-loved dog) and Barrie (a tweak of the spelling of another love of my life … Barry Manilow).  Perhaps I should have chosen a man’s name.  Like Robert Galbraith for example.  ‘He’s’ done quite well. 😉

Writing under a male name makes you eight times more likely to get published, one female author finds … Catherine Nichols received many more responses from agents as a man.  Jess Denham for the Independent 6th August 2015

That is so depressing in the 21st Century …


Alexis Kanda-Olmstead is a great name for a writer, far more punchy and interesting than my own.  Anyway Tessa Barrie and I have been together for the whole of my adult life.  Inextricably bound together, even I find it hard to differentiate.

My cousin just read the latest draft of my fictional work in progress and said.  ‘If I hadn’t known who had written it, I would have known it was you.’   So … what’s in a name?

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