Tuesday, February 1, 2022

A Pen Name for Your Thoughts: Guest Post by Molly MacRae

Molly MacRae: A Pen Name for Your Thoughts

New news on the pen name front! Did you know that I also write books under the name Margaret Welch? I do, and she has two new books coming out in 2022. They're books 4 and 11 in the Museum of Mysteries series from Annie's Fiction—a continuity series sold through a subscription book club. If you’re not familiar with the term continuity series, think Nancy Drew—a series with a strong thread of continuity running through multiple books written by multiple authors. The difference between Nancy Drew and a series from Annie’s Fiction is that Nancy’s authors all used the name Carolyn Keene. Annie’s authors use their own or pen names. 

So why did I choose the name Margaret Welch? She’s the main character in my Margaret and Bitsy short stories that first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and are collected in a volume called My Troubles. Margaret and Bitsy, not entirely compatible sisters, also appear in the novel Lawn Order. Margaret owns and runs a bookshop and I figured she’s probably always wanted to write books, in addition to reading and selling them, so now she does. Margaret also appeared in someone else’s book. Jessica Fletcher—yes, that Jessica Fletcher—chose Lawn Order for her bedtime reading in Murder, She Wrote: Domestic Malice, written with Donald Bain. Margaret and I are both thrilled by that. 

But why use a pen name? My agent and I had a long discussion of the pros and cons. The major con is that after building a loyal readership with my own name, why take the chance those readers won’t find and follow Margaret? Why build a brand and then ignore it? The answer, we decided, is because the books for Annie’s are a different brand. Under Molly MacRae I write cozy and traditional mysteries that have occasional blood, a bad word or two, and sex (off the page). The books for Annie’s Fiction are super cozy. In these books a cat will not even cough up a hairball. (I tried and the editor took it out.) And yet the books are mysteries with villains and the righting of wrongs. It’s a balancing act of writing, and Margaret and I both like a challenge. 

Will I continue writing under my own name? Yes! In fact Argyles and Arsenic, book 5 in my Highland Bookshop Mystery series, is out March 1st. Will there be a book 6 in that series? That’s where financial reality sets in. If there are enough pre-orders for Argyles and Arsenic, then the publisher will ask for more. If there isn’t another book, then I feel that I’ve left the four women and their Scottish bookshop and tearoom in good fettle. On the other hand, I worry about Geneva, the ghost in my Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries. She’s not the most stable personality, but she’s dead so it’s hard to find fault. Crewel and Unusual, book six in that series, came out several years ago with no news about more on the way. I’d like to check in with Geneva, though, so maybe Haunted Yarn Shop short stories? 

Will there be more books from Margaret, too? Yes! I just signed a contract to write a book in a new continuity series. The Whistle Stop CafĂ© Mysteries, coming in 2023, will feature amateur sleuths solving contemporary mysteries at the same time they reach back to clear up WWII era mysteries. 

So why reveal a pen name? Because there’s definitely crossover between the Molly and the Margaret brands, and in the end, books and stories are meant to be read. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


The New York Times says Molly MacRae writes cozies “in which the drama is tempered with humor.” She’s the award-winning author of the Highland Bookshop Mysteries and the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. As Margaret Welch, she writes for Annie’s Fiction.

Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest and connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.


Judith said...

Looking forward to your new Highland book on March 1st. The Whistle Stop Cafe mysteries sound interesting with dual timelines, the contemporary mixed with World War II. But I bet you love research:) Good luck with all of your books!

Chris Wallace said...

Dear Molly McRae
I loved Lawn and Order, so I bought the kindle version of My Troubles as soon as I read it was available! I'll order your new book next.
Chris Wallace

Bobbi A. Chukran, Author said...

Fascinating about the different markets for the series, Molly! I've been pondering a pen name and you've given me lot to think about! Thanks...bobbi c.

Judy Penz Sheluk said...

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing your story behind the story.

TahoeK said...

I miss Blue Plum! Where do I sign a petition for more Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries? Or at least an update on how the next step forward with Joe is working (or worked) out...

MaryAnn Corrigan said...

I'd never heard of Annie's Fiction. Thanks for explaining about your alter ego, Molly! ~Maya