Monday, November 28, 2011


Back before The Orchard sold, my agent and I had a talk about names. I did not want to publish it under my real name.  I didn't even want to use Frasier.  Names I came up with were Terry Ahlberg (grandmother's last name) and Anne Ahlberg.

 Why use a pseudonym for a memoir?   I didn't want anybody to easily figure out the innocent and not-so-innocent players in the story.  I explained to my agent why I didn't want to use my real name, and her response was: "How will anybody back there even know about the book?"  And that kind of says everything, because I was thinking just the opposite: How will they NOT know?  If you aren't from a small town, you don't understand these things.  So we put the name issue aside, agreeing to worry about it later, when and IF (highly unlikely) the book sold.  Once it did sell, I brought up the name issue again. I told my editor that I'd rather not publish the book under Weir. I think there was some discussion about it behind the walls of the publishing house, and later I was told that since it was memoir it really needed to be published under my real name. 


 I doubt I will ever be comfortable with that decision.  But on the other hand, I completely understand why it was made.  I know it's weird that I would want to protect certain people from exposure, but that's the way I am. And I think the whole Frey thing has made publishers paranoid about putting anything out there that might seem suspect. The result is that that they work extra hard to make sure everything is transparent.  I suppose it was  horribly naive of me to think I could use a different name. But I still like Ahlberg. 


  1. I completely understand your wanting to protect people but even I can see that you needed to have used your real name because you are your brand and of course for authenticity. That whole Frey thing, memoirs are sometimes exaggerated truths as they are based on memories and some facts right? Since so much of what he wrote was flat out fiction, I can understand the publishers wariness. But since Frey we've seen more memoirs being claimed as untrue. Go figure.

    Now that you've gotten the memoir finished, what are you working no next? If you don't mind my asking. Thanks.

  2. Hi Keishon,
    What am I working on? This is a tough question. Well, not so much tough, but I'm juggling so many things right now, with no pub dates in my future. I made poor use of my time in the past year, and I'm paying. Wrote another memoir that my pub felt was too dark for the market. (an alzheimer's story that is darker than the orchard.) It's about 3/4 finished, and I'm just sitting on it. Have the first cat/romance story that 's at least 1/2 done. My agent really likes it, but doesn't think it will make much money. Grand Central would like to see a suspense from me, but I've hardly started it. I have it plotted, plus 15 pages of story. really want to write it. Kind of a Hitchcock meets Patricia Highsmith meets Du Maurier. Starring the detectives from Play Dead. I'm also in the middle of trying to get more backlist books scanned, edited, and formatted. So if I write the suspense... say it won't be done until next fall. then i submit. even if they accept, that means it might not be out until 2014. sigh. i'm not sure that's the best thing to work on right now when it comes to generating income. I could always self publish it. In that way, it could be out late 2012. Publishers used to go to contract on partial submissions. In that way they could slot the books before the books were finished. That's not happening much anymore. Aren't you glad you asked what I'm working on? :D :D

  3. Hey Theresa/Anne,
    Just curious--have you seen any fallout from using your name? Have any old friends gotten in touch with you?

  4. Hi Mary-Frances,
    Quite a few people have gotten in touch with me. I keep hearing things like "Everybody's talking about it." Which is the one thing I really wanted to avoid!! But yeah, naive of me. Most of the response has been very positive. That has surprised me. (But I'm sure I'm just not hearing the negative.) I've had several farm women thank me for writing the book. For saying what they can't say. So I've been surprised to find that there is a strong concern and awareness about high cancer rates in farming communities. I heard a lot of interesting stories, one about all the men on one particular apple farm all dying of cancer by age 40.

  5. I'm really excited to hear about your wanting to write suspense!!! and that you have a publisher interested. But OTOH, I'd love to have that backlist ma'am like One Fine Day, American Dreamer and the rest.... I wish you good luck always in all your endeavors.

  6. Blogger is not cooperating. I had a long comment but to cut to the chase, I'd love to have those backlist titles :-) no pressure though