During and immediately after university, I spent a lot of time working in bookshops, so like most booksellers have plenty of ‘weird things customers say in bookshops’ moments (I was very jealous that Jen Campbell thought of compiling these first – though I did meet her, having contributed a quote to her follow up, More Weird Things People Say in Bookshops, and she seemed lovely, so I’ll forgive her). But I do remember a guy coming into the shop where I work asking for ‘the new Jeffrey Archer’. As this was the boomtime for Mr Archer’s books, of course we had shelves full of the damn things. But he simply looked at us, and sighed. ‘No, I mean Geoffrey Archer’.
I remember even at the time thinking, that must be so weird. After all, while lots of people are happy with a pen name, many also want to write under their own names – but what if someone else beat you to it? Unlike for actors with Equity, there’s no rule that authors can’t have the same name (that I’m aware of – please don’t tell me there is, or I’m in trouble). So it’s bound to happen. And, yes, it’s happened to me.
Tracey Sinclair is – despite my mother’s insistence that ‘Tracey’ was an unusual name (uh. no, mum, there were SIX other Traceys in my class at school alone: since my cousin ended up married to one of those, I’m not even the only Tracey in my family). So googling myself can be depressing, especially since the Tracey Sinclairs of the world seem inordinately drawn to altruism: there’s a lot of namesake nurses, counsellors and the like. Way to make me feel selfish. But there is also, rather splendidly, Harlequin Romance author Tracy Sinclair. In fact, until I started working a lot more in digital media, her name came up more often than mine (I suspect she may be dead now, which obviously puts me at a bit of an advantage). And you know what, when people get confused, I don’t mind – look at these books! Admittedly some have some slightly dodgy of-their-time racial overtones (sexy Sheikhs who look disturbingly like tanned Americans) – but who can’t love someone who wrote a book called Champagne for Breakfast? Hell, I wish I wrote that!
She’s even gone international…!
So I guess it could be worse, right? I mean, if she is still alive, she’s probably wondering what people keep asking her about vampires…