A Book Written Under a Pen Name: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge

August 22, 2022 | Rathees

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TPL Reading Challenge 2022

Have you ever finished reading a book and thought, “Wow, that was a great read. I wonder what else the author wrote", and then found out the book was actually written under a pen name? Pen names are used by authors to replace their real name for several reasons. Sometimes it’s for anonymity, other times to write as a different persona for a different genre, or just simply for fun. Here are some recommendations for books written under a pen name – some may surprise you!

The Long Walk by Richard Bachman

The Long Walk by Richard Bachman

Set in the future in a dystopian America, 100 teenage boys participate in an annual long-distance walking contest. The last person left standing in the grueling long-distance walk receives prize money and any wish of their choice is granted. If the participants stop more than three times they’re “permanently” out of the race. Richard Bachman is a pen name used by Stephen King. Although I was not a fan of this book entirely, I thought it was worth reading King’s foreward to the later edition of The Long Walk titled The Importance of Being Bachman. He had created this persona of Bachman to write in a different voice and even made a whole fictional biography for his pen name. After Bachman's true identity was revealed, King did something unsurprising - killed him off.

The Deep by Nick Cutter

The Deep by Nick Cutter

I recently recommended The Saturday Night Ghost Club for a book about a city, and when reading Craig Davidson’s biography, I discovered that he writes horror novels as Nick Cutter. Having read The Troop years ago, that was surprising to learn. I chose to read his other novel as Nick Cutter, The Deep. This story takes place in the claustrophobic setting of a research lab 8 miles deep in the ocean where a prominent scientist is looking for a cure to a plague known as the ‘Gets. When communication with the scientist fails, his brother descends down to the lab to find him and encounters the horrors below. Reading The Long Walk felt like I was reading a Stephen King novel. On the other hand, Craig Davidson’s writing in The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a lot different than that in The Deep. It was interesting to read a book by the same author but in a different genre where their voice changes with their pen name.


Staff Recommendations

Here are some recommendations from TPL staff for this category.

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes : Book One of The Expanse by James S. A. Corey

The popular Prime Video show "Expanse" is based on the Expanse Series of novels – the first being Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey – really co-written by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham. They used their combined middle names and Abraham’s daughter’s name for the initials to create their pen name. This sci-fi book is so immersive and contains in-depth world building for a realistic portrayal of the future of mankind in space.

– Vyktorya, Librarian


Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters


Egyptologist Barbara Mertz wrote a series of books as Elizabeth Peters. The first is Crocodile on the Sandbank. TPL has only eBook and eAudiobook copies. Amelia Peabody is a Victorian spinster who inherits enough money when her father dies to finally travel to the lands she's read about. She goes to Egypt where she rescues a fellow Englishwoman in distress. The two companions face mysteries, mummies and the redoubtable Radcliffe Emerson, an outspoken archaeologist, who doesn't need women to help him solve mysteries — at least that's what he thinks!

– Linda, Information Technology Services


The Maid by Nita Prose

The Maid by Nita Prose

I ended up finishing this category by chance. My co-worker and customers had all been asking me if I had read The Maid by Nita Prose. I got a Best Bets loan and spent the next seven days lost in a world of reading. It's a locked-room mystery set in a fancy hotel. It's borderline a cozy mystery, the grisly stuff happens off-page. The characters' names are also a nod to the board game Clue, which this book is sort of reminiscent of (though not to the extent I had expected). Molly Gray works at the Regency Grand Hotel. She is a creature of habit and very meticulous in her work. She would never break the rules. Her whole world gets turned upside down when she goes to clean the room of one of her regular customers. She finds Mr. Black dead in his locked suite. Molly gets wrapped up in the murder as one of the prime suspects. Her daily routine is thrown into chaos. Thankfully during her time working at the hotel, she made some loyal friends who jump to her rescue and help her solve the mystery as to who the real killer is. There is also a cutesy romantic subplot if you need a break from the suspense. It was only after I finished reading it when I looked it up to learn more about it that I found it had been written by Nita Pronovost. 

– Pauline, Librarian


Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh

Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh

This category immediately made me think of romance. It's such a cliché to use a pen name in romance that I was surprised to learn some of my favorites (Molly HarperJennifer McQuiston) seem to publish under their real names - though both those mentioned do publish under other names as well! But Eva Leigh didn't let me down. Forever Your Earl is the first book in The Wicked Quills of London series and brings us a wonderful main character for a regency romance. 

Eleanor Hawke is a successful editor of a gossip paper that revels in the scandals of society's elite. So when Danial Balfour, London's most scandalous Earl, invites her to follow him closely and report on all his doings, she knows he must be up to something. What is he trying to hide by keeping her close? She's determined to figure it out. But, of course, neither of them expected to find the other quite so intriguing, and the arrangement quickly becomes complicated.

– Kasey, Librarian


The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners tells the story of how Olive and Ethan ended up going on the free honeymoon that was meant for their newly married siblings. It's a fun and steamy story, that was a perfect book to read while on summer vacation. Christina Lauren is the combined pen name for the best friends and writers Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. 
– Nalini, Senior Branch Head
Full Throttle by Joe Hill

I have recommended Locke & Key for a book about magic by Joe Hill but this collection of short stories is also really great. I especially like "Late Returns" – a grief-stricken librarian climbs behind the wheel of an antique Bookmobile to deliver fresh reads to the dead! Joe Hill is the pen name of Joseph Hillström King, the son of Stephen King. The audiobook features a great cast of readers like Zachary Quinto, Wil Wheaton, Kate Mulgrew, and Neil Gaiman!

This particular short story is also good for "a book about a library worker".

– Lucas, Librarian

Feed by Mira Grant

Newsflesh Series by Mira Grant

Seanan McGuire is a prolific writer. Besides writing under her own name, she has a couple of pseudonyms – Mira Grant and A. Deborah Baker. 

My first introduction to her work was through Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh series published under the Mira Grant name. This series combines things I'm passionate about: politics, blogging and zombies. It is set in 2040, several decades after the zombie apocalypse. Healthy citizens spend their lives in gated communities and get their news of the outside world from bloggers who venture beyond the safe areas. Georgia Mason, her brother Shaun and friend Buffy Meissonier have been selected to cover the presidential campaign of a Republican front-runner. Things go terribly wrong. A riveting and heartbreaking series. 

After she wrote three novels and a bunch of short stories about the Mason team, she wrote another book, Feedback, covering the same campaign but from the perspective of the blogging team for the Democratic candidate.

– Margaret, Librarian

Reckless by Stacy Abrams, writing as Selena Montgomery

Books by Selena Montgomery

I plan on checking out Stacey Abrams' romance novels, published under the pen name Selena Montgomery. TPL has both print and ebook copies of Never Tell (2004), Hidden Sins (2006), Secrets and Lies (2007), and Reckless (2008). They look like thrilling summer reads. Can't wait!

– Jennifer, Librarian

Recommendations from the Facebook Group 

We received over 20 comments for this category from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2022 discussion group. Here are a few of those recommendations, and you can read all of the responses in the original post. You do not need a Facebook account to read the suggestions.

French Recommendations

If you like to read in French, check out the list of recommended books for "un nom de plume"– there's a mix of books, ebooks and digital audiobooks to try!


What would you recommend for "a book written under a pen name”? Add your suggestions in the comments section below!