Oops – did I fail to mention that Tessie Bradford is not the name I was born with? I first typed that Tessie is not my “real” name, but that’s not exactly true, is it? It’s my alter ego’s real name, and she’s me, too! How we selected it still makes me smile.
Originally, I wasn’t going to publish under a pen name. How was everyone going to believe my work was my work if my name wasn’t on it? My uncle, an attorney, advised that in this internet world, where people can find other people pretty easily, it might not be safe. My mother-in-law, who shares my first and last name, had some concerns that her friends might think she wrote the books, which could be good or bad, depending!
As is my way, I asked my family for help. My older brother’s contributions, though hysterical, were more suited for porn actresses. My younger brother only had suggestions of what he didn’t want; which was anything that might let someone know he was related to me! The ones my husband came up with were just plain boring (sorry, honey).
Once I had a list of suggestions, I talked to my daughter, who was away at school. We laughed uproariously during the conversation but realized we hadn’t hit on the right one yet. She said to me, “Mom, what about your stripper name?” I stuttered for a few minutes before asking, “WHAT?” “It’s the name of your first pet and the first street that you lived on,” she replied matter-of-factly. Tessie Bradford rolled easily and comfortably off my tongue.
Next thing I knew, everyone who heard the story was talking about their stripper name. Some of my favorites are Frosty Harrison, Victoria Burningtree, Captain Aspen, Pumpkin Maple Lane and, believe it or not, Ben Dover!