Most everyone knows that Stephen King wrote as Richard Bachman, and that Nora Roberts writes as J. D. Robb. The Ed McBain mysteries were penned by Evan Hunter, who was born as Salvatore A. Lombino. The list goes on and on, and you can find a long Wikipedia list here.
Writers assume pen names for different reasons, the most common might be to not confuse an audience of readers when the author begins a totally different series. One extreme example might be a successful children's author deciding to write erotica. It could happen. Others might feel their real name is too ethnic or difficult to pronounce, as with Joseph Conrad or Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum, aka Ayn Rand.
All of this musing comes from my decision to publish my mystery/suspense novel, Matanzas Bay under the pen name of Parker Francis. The name has some family connections, but it was done to keep these adult mysteries separate from my Windrusher books, which have a wide audience of young adults.
Upcoming posts will unveil more details about Matanzas Bay, the release date, and perhaps a sneak preview of the cover.
Let me hear your thoughts on pen names and some of your favorites.