Trish J. MacGregorwas born in Caracas, Venezuela, and has an ongoing love affair with South America. She lives in south Florida with her husband, novelist Rob MacGregor, three cats, and a noble golden retriever.
by Trish J. MacGregor
A name should be a simple thing, right? Well, that depends.
My birth name was Patricia. But from the time I was a kid, I felt more comfortable with the first name of Trish. My maiden name was Janeshutz. Yes, it’s a mouthful. Jane- Shoots. During the years I grew up in Venezuela, my last name became the bane of my existence, constantly misspelled, mispronounced, the brunt of cafeteria jokes. But it was my name, so I stuck with it. I wrote my first two novels, published by Ballantine in the early 1980s, as Trish Janeshutz. Then, when I started a series that featured private eyes Quin and McCleary, who plied their trade in South Florida, my editor at the time – Chris Cox – suggested I use a different name.
“Booksellers can’t pronounce or spell your last name, Trish. They don’t know whether the books should be shelved under J or under S,” Chris said. “And besides, mysteries by men are outselling mysteries by women, so use an androgynous name.”
Since I was married by then, I became T.J. MacGregor. In the early 1990s, I started a new series, set on the fictional island of Tango Key. I got another call from Chris. “Okay, since this is a new series, how about a new name?”
“No, female. Mysteries by women are now outselling mysteries by men.”
I became Alison Drake, who wrote four novels set on the fictitious island of Tango Key. By this time, we had a daughter and our attorney, a friend, suggested we draw up a will. “But which name should we use for you, Trish? Are you Patricia Janeshutz MacGregor? Trish Janeshutz MacGregor? T.J. MacGregor? Alison Drake? Or just Trish MacGregor?”
In the end, she used all the names on the will.
This pseudonym business has had some odd twists and turns. In the late 1980s, my husband and I traveled to Venezuela. As we headed to customs in Caracas, where I had been born, we were surrounded by guards with machine guns. Colombian drug dealers had begun using Caracas to export cocaine and the government was cracking down. The guards were particularly interested in the man in front of us, a tall, middle-aged Venezuelan in a dark, three-piece suit who carried a briefcase. They told him to open it up.
Slowly, the man unlatched the briefcase and the guards leaned forward to see what was inside. The tension was thick and tight, the air seemed to heat up. What would they do if the briefcase was filled with packets of cocaine? What would the man do? We were directly behind the man and had a good view. Surprisingly, there was only one item in the briefcase, a paperback book, Fevered, one of the novels I’d written as Alison Drake. The man had no idea, of course, that the author was standing behind him. It wasn’t a convenient time or place to introduce myself. Besides, my passport would have shown another name.
As the 1990s moved toward the 21st century, I started writing more nonfiction and used the name by which my family and friends know me – Trish MacGregor. Finally, I thought, I can write as who I am. But this name karma eventually caught up with me and became an issue on my driver’s license, credit cards, bank account, passport, and websites.
In 2009, I completed the first in a paranormal fantasy trilogy, Esperanza, and my agent suggested I use a different name since it was a new genre. I can’t recall the name I used. But when Beth Meacham at TOR/Forge expressed an interest in the book and asked for my phone number, someone in my agent’s office blew my cover! Beth suggested I use a name similar to my own and mentioned Ian Banks, who also wrote as Ian M Banks. So, I became Trish J MacGregor for Esperanza, Ghost Key, and Apparition, the third book in the trilogy.
Shortly before Esperanza was published in 2010, I was at a bookseller’s conference, on a panel with three other writers. As we each introduced ourselves, I felt a touch of envy that the other writers all had easy names – easy to pronounce, easy to spell. After the panel discussion was over, a woman in the audience raised her hand.
“Are you T.J. MacGregor?” she asked.
“Yes. I’m also Alison Drake, Trish Janeshutz, and Trish MacGregor. Since I’ve done some ghostwriting over the years, I’ve also been Victoria Gotti and James Cromwell. For awhile, it looked as if I might be Dionne Warwick too, but that didn’t work out.”
“When you’ve had as many names as I have, one more is no big deal,” I replied.
At least, it wasn’t a big deal in the sense he meant it. But in real life, there have been repercussions in addition to a driver’s license, passport, real estate transactions. When I set up a website for Trish J MacGregor, I decided to direct T.J. MacGregor to the same site because I was bringing my earlier books into digital format. I debated about taking out a domain name for Alison Drake, but since she wrote only four books, I brought her books out as T.J. MacGregor. In a strange way, that makes sense. I wrote nine books set on Tango Key- the last five as T.J. MacGregor.
Trish MacGregor doesn’t have a domain name. Instead, she has a couple of credit cards and domain names for the synchronicity books I have written with my husband, Rob. Since Trish Janeshutz hasn’t written anything since 1985, she doesn’t have a domain name, either, or a will, driver’s license, or passport.
As of 2013, the name on my license, passport, and IRS returns is Patricia Janeshutz MacGregor, the name on my bank account is Trish Janeshutz MacGregor, and yes, there are days when I wake up wondering who I will be that day. When in doubt, I answer to, “Hey, you.”
Courtesy of Tor, SF Signal has 2 copies of Trish J MacGregor’s Apparition to give away to two lucky readers in the U.S. or Canada. Here’s the scoop:
Trish J. MacGregor returns to a mythic city high in the Ecuadorian Andes in Apparition.
Tess and Ian have been living in the high city of Esperanza for years, along with Tess’s niece, Maddie, and her partner, Nick Sanchez. They thought they could rest, that they had defeated the brujo threat to our plane of existence. But they were wrong.
A new and greater threat has formed, a new tribe of the hungry dead, seeking to possess the bodies of the living in order to experience the passions of physical life. This new tribe has found the door to the physical plane that is Esperanza, and they threaten all human life. Only the outnumbered Light Chasers and their human allies can stand against the evil brujos.
Here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:
- Send an email to contest at sfsignal dot com. (That’s us).
- In the subject line, enter ‘Apparition Giveaway‘
- In the email, please provide your mailing address so the books can be mailed as soon as possible. (The winning address is used only to mail the prize and, like all other address info, will be purged once the giveaway ends.)
- Geographic restrictions: This giveaway is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada due to publishing restrictions.
- The giveaway will end Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 (9:00 PM U.S. Central time). The winners will be selected at random, notified, , sent the Audible redemption codes, and announced shortly thereafter.