What’s in a name?

Jayne Hitchcock here –

There’s one question that never fails to get asked when I’m doing a book signing or speaking at a conference or school or library: Is that your real last name?

Why yes, it is.

Then: Are you related?

I reply: Do I look like him? and then there’s usually laughter.

For those who are scratching your heads, I’m referring to Alfred Hitchcock.

I mean, seriously, if I was related to him, don’t you think I’d be flaunting it?

I then say: Well, my maiden name is Doyle and somewhere along the line, we are related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so I guess I was destined to be a writer.

Some people look at me cross-eyed, having no clue I am referring to. Those poor, poor people (ha ha).

When I was growing up, having the last name of Doyle gave me some nifty nicknames in school:

Jayne Foil

Jayne Dole (as in the pineapple – we lived in southern California, so Dole was a big deal there)

Plain Jayne

Jaynie Waynie

I have no clue what the last one meant, but at least they weren’t mean nicknames!

So, now I will confuse you all further. I married my current husband in June of 2008. His last name is Poulin. Since I had established my name as a writer and in the field of cyber crime, I decided not to change it to his last name after we married. He’s cool with that. Some people are not and think I should have changed it and use Hitchcock for writing. But then explaining to them that checks are made out to Hitchcock and it would be too confusing doesn’t go anywhere. I guess there are still old-fashioned people out there.

I even called the Social Security office and the IRS and both suggested keeping Hitchcock (from a previous marriage – he died in 2006). So far, it’s worked out perfectly fine for both of us, although he is called Mr. Hitchcock more often than not. It’s a good thing he’s got a sense of humor and just goes along with it.

Plus, I get the “are you related to Alfred” question and nine times out of ten they buy my book, so it’s all good.

Did your name affect your writing or your life? If you’re a writer, do you use a pen name instead? If so, why and how did you choose your pen name? Curious minds want to know!

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7 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Lea Wait says:

    I use the name Lea Wait both privately and professionally, despite two marriages, either of which could have changed my last name. I think it’s a real disadvantage to women to change their last names if they’re know within any sort of community, business, publishing, sports … whatever. (And my husbands understood that.)

  2. Netcrimes says:

    I totally agree with you!

  3. Barb Ross says:

    I never changed my name, so I’ve always been Barbara Ross. However, it’s such a common name, used by at least four other authors, I sometimes wish I had used a pseudonym when I started writing fiction.

  4. Netcrimes says:

    It’s never too late!

  5. Brenda says:

    Love this topic! And as a beginning writer I am mulling this one over and am interested in all remarks. Thanks for sharing your interesting story. Since your husband that was Mr. Hitchcock died, I think it is especially nice that you are carrying on his name through literature (and it is wonderful you have a good husband who doesn’t mind being mistakenly called Mr. Hitchcock sometimes), and to change your name when known would be throwing away readers who would have a harder time finding you.

  6. Netcrimes says:

    Thank you, Brenda – and good luck on your writing!!

  7. Jane says:

    Jayne, we share our given name, though I spell it the traditional way. I also frequently heard Plain Jane, as well as being asked where Tarzan was. And, of course, I learned to read with Dick and Jane. But I am convinced that no matter what your name is, kids will find a way to tease you about it. Unfortunately we don’t realize that when we are kids. A very interesting topic, I find names fascinating.

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