M. E. Kerr loves names. When she speaks to kids at schools, she enjoys asking them about their names and does an exercise with them to have them think of pseudonyms for themselves. She came up with “M. E. Kerr” from her real last name “Meaker.” One story about her name is that her family changed the spelling of their name from Meeker to Meaker to be sure they were not confused with the Meekers who were horse thieves. When she was a teenager, she concocted the pen name “Eric Ranthram McKay” inspired by her father, Ellis R. Meaker’s monogrammed stationery. She sent out stories to magazines under this name. This was the beginning of a lifetime of alternate literary identities. Her children’s book pen name is Mary James and is a play on her real first name “Marijane.”
After college, she was creative and industrious, using her own name, Marijane Meaker, as her agency head. She represented many authors, all her. Among her clients were authors whose names were borrowed from her sorority sisters with whom she first roomed in NYC. She had great success as Laura Winston, author of her first magazine story. She also represented Edgar and Mamie Stone who wrote together and lived in Maine. Let me use her words to explain them:
I named them Edgar and Mamie Stone. They wrote confessions, stories like “I Lost My Baby At A Pot Party.” That would be the teaser title. All confessions had them. This story was about a Teflon pot party where the saleswoman was so compelling that the absent-minded mother didn’t watch her two year old, who crawled out the door into the yard…Of course the baby was okay…That was a typical confession. They paid around $200, $300 for them and for a few years they kept me while I worked on other things. True Confessions adored the Stones and wanted to take them to lunch in NYC so I had to invent this persona for poor Edgar who was very crippled and Mamie had bad asthma.
She went on to say one summer she loaned her apartment out when the magazine True Confessions called saying they wanted to buy a Stone story and how could they reach the Stones. The magazine knew the Stones’ agent – Marijane Meaker – was on vacation but thought there’d be someone in her office. The person staying in her apartment said they were away.
Vin Packer came about because she wanted a name that could be male. She picked “Vin” from a friend she was having lunch with named Vincent and “Packer” from a friend named Ann Packer. Vin Packer became a suspense writer because she wanted to be reviewed and knew that paperback mysteries were reviewed along with the hardcover titles. Thus, she was very pleased to reach her goal and have Anthony Boucher of the New York Times review her Vin Packer books.
You can view book covers by other pen names and Vin Packer by clicking under “Other Pen Names” on the menu above or by clicking on the above listed names. Other names she has written under include M. J. Meaker and Marijane Meaker.