Monday, May 28, 2012

What’s In a Name? by Bailey Cates

Today I'm happy to host a Northern Colorado mystery writer on my blog. Bailey Cates writes the Magical Bakery Mysteries. They feature new witch and baker Katie Lightfoot and are set in Savannah, Georgia. The first in the series, Brownies and Broomsticks, released this month in paperback and ebook formats from NAL/Penguin. She also writes the Home Crafting Mystery Series as Cricket McRae. The sixth in the series, Deadly Row to Hoe, will release this November from Midnight Ink/Llewellyn. 

Welcome, Bailey (although I have to admit it feels odd calling you Bailey when I've known you so long as Cricket). I'm very excited about your new series and can't wait to read Brownies and Broomsticks.

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What's in a Name? by Bailey Cates


Thanks for hosting me today, Pat!

Hi everyone -- Bailey Cates here. Well sort of. I write the Magical Bakery Mysteries published by NAL/Penguin as Bailey, but I also write the Home Crafting Mysteries published by Midnight Ink/Llewellyn as Cricket McRae.

And you know what? Neither one of those is my real name. So how did I end up writing two mystery series under two different pseudonyms? It started in 2007 when I realized two things: Rarely does anyone spell my real name correctly – which would be a problem for search engines – and I wanted people to remember the name of “that author” after meeting me or encountering my books. Cricket McRae is easy on both search engines and the memory.

You know that game where you combine your first pet’s name with the name of the street you grew up on to get your stripper name? Well, I moved around so much that I didn’t really have a street name to pick, and my first pet was a beagle named Monday that I don’t even remember. But I did have a beautiful German shepherd growing up, and her name was … Cricket. So that was the inspiration – I named myself after my dog. The McRae is a play on another part of my real name, and refers to my Irish background.

I’ve told some people it was a childhood nickname, just because it was a quick, simple answer that didn’t involve the word “stripper”. Now it really is a nickname. Lots of people who know my real name call me Cricket – and I love it!

“Cricket McRae” is also part of the branding that I developed before the Home Crafting Mysteries ever came out. Set in the Pacific Northwest, they feature a soap maker as the main character, and “Cricket” fit with the clean, dare I say perky feeling I wanted to convey with everything from website design to covers to fonts. It all fits together.

But the Magical Bakery Mysteries feature a different kind of protagonist in a totally different situation (witchcraft and baking) and environs (Savannah, Georgia). The publisher wanted another author name on the series to distinguish it in the minds of readers. Sounded good to me.

Bailey is a family name, albeit a last name. On the other side, but still Irish. I’ve known both men and women with the first name of Bailey, and I very much like the androgynous nature of it. Cates is again a play on part of my own name. I have to say, I like the way it looks on the cover!

People have asked me if I’m disappointed that my real name isn’t in print. Not at all. I’ve always had nicknames, from my grandfather calling me Worm (affectionately, of course) to my guy calling me Katrina now (a reference to my baptismal name, though I’ve never heard of a Katrina in the bible, and something about a hurricane).

However, it looks like things are about to get a little more complicated because I have a new book in the works. It’s quite different from the others I’ve written. It’s a contemporary western mainstream mystery, not a cozy at all. My editor mentioned just the other day that it might be a good idea if it were published under a different name.

Let me know if you have any ideas…

There are many authors who write under different names. As a reader, do you appreciate knowing when you pick up a book by, say, J.D. Robb it will be a different kind of story than one by Nora Roberts even though they were both written by the same person? Or is it just confusing?

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Thanks so much for being here today, Bailey. The only thing I worry about with author pseudonyms is that I'll miss something my favorite authors have written if the new name isn't well publicized and cross-referenced for search engines.

As for coming up with a pseudonym using pets' names, I'd have a problem. The dogs I've had were called "Tubby" and "Buster."

For more information about this author, please visit her website or check out her blogs Hearth Cricket and The Lightfoot Chronicles. You can also find her on Twitter: @cricketmcrae and @writerbailey and on Facebook as Cricket McRae and as Author Bailey Cates.

13 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm looking forward to reading Cricket's new series!

I don't think it's as confusing as it could be because we authors are branding both names on our blogs and websites.

Congratulations, Cricket/Bailey!

Medeia Sharif said...

That's so interesting about Bailey's pen names. I think it's awesome how she juggles different names and writing styles/genres.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're about to have three names? Wow.
I knew my last name was a bit of a challenge, which is why I'm glad I don't have to spell out my entire name. At least there aren't any other authors with my name.

Bailey Cates said...

Pat you had me laughing with your pet names! Right now I have a cat named Cheese, so that probably wouldn't work, either. It would be memorable, though...

Hi Elizabeth -- I looked to how you handle your author names when I had to figure out how to manage two. Love your Memphis BBQ mysteries!

Thanks, Medeia! So far both of my series are "cozy" but I'll get to play with style a bit more with the mainstream mystery.

Alex, is Cavenaugh British? I seem to remember reading that name in a mystery or two set across the pond. Thanks for stopping by!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love the fact that Elizabeth/Riley and Cricket/Bailey are prolific enough to need more than one author name. You two should bottle some of your energy and commitment for those of us who sleep in (as Katie Kitty allowed me to do this morning).

Lynn Proctor said...

i think i would be too selfish to not use my name--but i love all of your names---anyway, i don't think herman byswick sounds like me!

Jess Lourey said...

That new series sounds GREAT, Cricket! And I'm going to ask you to call me Frisky McDowell from now on, after my first cat and my grandma's maiden name. Deal?

The Golden Eagle said...

Sometimes it is a little confusing, at least when realization hits that two authors are, in fact, the same person. Blogging under a pseudonym has made me realize quite a bit more why someone would do it, though. :)

lizy-expat-writer said...

I have enough problems remembering my user-names and passwords - pen-names would be even more confusing!

Gary Raham said...

Well, Bailey, you could always go with something like Sage Cranston--a bit of rangeland mixed with the mystery of the "Shadow." :)

Bailey Cates said...

Patricia, may Katie Kitty allow you to sleep in often. And thanks again for hosting me. ; )

Herman Byswick *definitely* doesn't sound like you, Lynn!

Frisky it is, Jess. And don't think I'm kidding.

Golden Eagle, I have to admit that speaking/reading under a pseudonym really helped me learn to relax.

Lizy, that's an issue indeed -- I have passwords, etc. times three!

Gary, would you believe I've already kicked around the idea of Sage Something? I like Cranston.

Dean K Miller said...

I've been called so many names it would take too much space to list them here!! (Probably wouldn't want to use most of them anyway!)

Sadi Something (besides Hawkings)?

Teresa Funke said...

I like your real-life last name. Think it has an Old West sound to it, and might work well. As for first name, I'd stick to your Irish roots, since that has served you well so far.