A pen name, also called a nom de plume (French: [nɔ̃ də plym]) or a literary double, is a pseudonym (or, in some cases, a variant form of a real name) adopted by an author and printed on the title page or by-line of their works in place of their real name. Wikipedia
While the main facts of my bio (practicing anesthesiologist, Pacific Northwest resident) are true, D.J. Lee is indeed a pen name. So why the subterfuge? It would be easy for me to simply answer, “Why not?” but like a poorly written novel, that would leave you unsatisfied. In the spirit of full disclosure, I use a pen name because I also work as an anesthesiologist. Let me provide more information about myself here, or as I like to say, D.J. Lee on D.J. Lee.
When a Doctor Writes Thrillers
When I began to plot my medical thriller, I wanted my writing to be realistic. I gathered my ideas from my real life work situations. As you can imagine, people might get nervous if they discovered that their doctor writes about creepy medical situations. They would naturally wonder if these events occurred at the hospital they were about to go to for a procedure. They might be concerned that as their doctor I would be administering medicines to make them go to sleep. In short, how close does my anesthesia reality come to the imaginative one that I write?
Privacy over Fame
A pen name also gives me a bit of personal privacy in a profession that, despite the antics of Grey’s Anatomy and House, is very traditional, hierarchical, and even staid in nature. I’ve been an anesthesiologist for years, and I like doing my job. I wouldn’t want someone that I work with wondering if they were going to become my next fictitious villain. I usually wait a few years before the caricatures and parodies of people I work with end up in print (wink, wink). Also, nothing about the life of famous people makes me want to find myself in the news, easily recognized, or infamous.
The Best of Both Worlds
‘D.J. Lee’ gives me the freedom to explore another persona as a writer while continuing my regular career. I also enjoy having a different voice and viewpoint with D.J. than I express in real life. As I toyed with the idea of using my actual name, and all of the people who told me about the ego boost I’d get seeing my name in the proverbial bright lights, I realized that I would be happier behind the scenes. I value my privacy and my ‘day’ job. I want to serve me patients and my readers. Will I ever reveal? For now, like a good thriller or mystery, the ending is unknown.