Slaying Genre: The Power of the Pen Name

By KL Pereira

I love pseudonyms. I have my own, of course. A name that I write and publish under with gobs of pride. And though pseudonyms are extremely common, other writers often ask me why I chose to use a pen name.

I firmly believe that pseudonyms are magic names, incantations, if you will, that are the keys to unlocking some of the deepest words in our souls. In the short story, “The Rule of Names” (and later in her Earthsea books), Ursula K. LeGuin creates a world that is based on the power, the magic of names. She writes: “To speak the name is to control the thing.”

When I speak and write my pen name, something incredible happens. I transform. The lusty, strange, and profound in the human condition, in my characters, becomes clearer to me, and the words flow with more precision, more confidence. I am, quite simply, in control of a deep reserve of emotional power that’s connected to the darker, sexier things in my psyche and I’m able to channel that into my work.

Before I had a pen name, I found it a bit more difficult to confidently “go there”--the places that excite me, that are subversive and transformational--in my work. Now, I speak my name, slip on my vinyl gloves, light a clove cigarette, and get to work.

If it sounds strange and a bit mystical, a bit inexact, it is. This is how I explain it. I’m sure other writers have other explanations. But when I use my pen name, I control the thing, the power inside me to write what frightens me, what frees me. And those two little words give me permission to create the art that burns in my soul. And that certainly is a special power to have.

*A note to readers: today is my birthday and because I *love* giving presents rather receiving them (though, if you’re hell-bent on a gift, you could tell me your favorite pen name in the comments), follow this link to the official debut of my e-book, Hunger (written under my pen name of course--she blogs here) and the wonderful debut of Femme Fatale (which my pen name and I, along with amazing writers like Lana Fox and Bracken MacLeod are also featured in)!

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About the Author

KL Pereira's chapbook, Impossible Wolves was published by Deathless Press is 2013. Her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction are forthcoming or appear in The Drum Literary Magazine, Shimmer Zine, Lightning Cake, The Golden Key, Innsmouth Free Press, Innsmouth Magazine, Mythic Delirium, Jabberwocky, The Medulla Review, Bitch Magazine and other publications. Pereira’s work on fairy tales, sexuality, Wonder Woman, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are featured on Studio 360 and other radio programs, cited in numerous publications, and assigned in courses all over the United States and Canada. Find Pereira online on and @kl_pereira

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