Why have your books been published under several different names?

I started using pen names during the thirty years we lived in Indonesia. Many books published there are translations from other languages, especially European languages. When a name that clearly looks European appears on the front cover, an Indonesian reader is likely to assume, “This book must be a translation.”

Translations are important. For example, most of us have never read The Holy Bible except in the form of translations. Yet good translations aren’t easy. Many translations don’t read smoothly; they seem to be still partly in a foreign language.

When I began to write (not just translate) in the Indonesian language, I didn’t want prospective readers to reject my books just because they saw a European name on the front cover. So I started using Indonesian pen names instead. (There’s a funny story about how I selected my main Indonesian pen name; if you knew both languages, I could explain it to you.)

When we came back from Indonesia to America, the habit of using a pen name stuck – especially as I began to write books for adults that were different from anything else I had ever written.

So there are several reasons – those I’ve mentioned and some others as well – why my books have been published under several different names. After all, using a pen name seemed to work for Samuel Langhorne Clemens, didn’t it? Do you suppose so many people would have read his books if they hadn’t been published with the author’s name as “Mark Twain”?

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