All my life I have told myself stories, even when they involved my dolls and toy horses, or lego dogs and horses (which the instructions were wrong about, so I made up my own). I am one of those people you see walking down the street talking to themselves. So far, no one seems to have noticed that there is only one person involved in these conversations, otherwise I would be living in a nice, comfy padded room by now.
I’ve been writing down bits of stories for nearly as long as I have been talking to myself, but could never carry anything through to full book length, so I consoled myself with reading every kind of fiction I could lay my hands on. When I got older and discovered librairies, I found myself stuck quite happily in the fantasy section with Terry Pratchett and Anne McCaffrey.
I wrote my first novel for a competition in 2010. Having a deadline was what I needed to make me sit down and write. I’ve now written six novels and haven’t published any of them. I have published some shorter stories, though, and you can find these here or by clicking on the links in the sidebar.
I’ve lived in four different countries (currently I’m in South-East England) – my latest stint abroad was two and a half years in Peru where I learnt to dance salsa and got paid, for a while, to ride horses to Machu Picchu.
Now. About the names. Yes, I can see how you might be a bit confused. Don’t panic. I can explain.
Okay, so, my name is Anne-Mhairi Simpson. If you found me via Facebook, or if you’ve known me since before 2011, that’s what you know me as. This is because I’ve had my Facebook account for way longer than I’ve been writing novels.
(Not longer than I’ve been writing stories, though. That’s something entirely different.)
If you found me via Twitter or something I published, you probably think I’m Mhairi Simpson, and I am.
The ‘Mhairi’ part is Scottish, by the way. It’s pronounced VAA-ree. Not so hard once you know. Typing it’s a bit harder, lots of vowels to get straight. Anyway, to get back to my point…
The truth is, I’m a bit of a weirdo.
Okay, a lot of a weirdo.
Anyway, I love my name but I hate hate HATE being called ‘Anne’. I have nothing against the name in itself but just not for me. ‘Anne-Mhairi’ is fine. ‘AM’ is fine. ‘AnnieMaryLizzie’ is fine, if you’re my mother. (If you’re not, forget it.)
‘Anne’, however, is not.
Now, this is all well and good. Most people have some preference or other about their name, but when people see ‘Anne-Mhairi’ on the screen or a name badge or whatever else, a couple of problems arise. Firstly, it’s not a terribly common name outside Scotland so most people don’t know how to pronounce the ‘Mhairi’ part. Unfortunately, this tends to result in them just not trying. Can you guess what happens next?
Yup. They call me ‘Anne’.
My eyes turn white. My head spins around. Smoke comes out of my ears. Apparently it’s quite scary.
(Note to the general public: Don’t call me ‘Anne’.)
The second problem is, funnily enough, that when people see ‘Anne-Mhairi’ online, they frequently get lazy. Even though they can see it written out clearly in front of them, they just can’t be bothered to type it all out. So they call me ‘Anne’.
My eyes turn white, etc, etc.
In order to discourage laziness and to encourage people to at least take a shot at the difficult part of my name, I chopped the ‘Anne’ off for my pen name. So I write and publish and sometimes even edit as ‘Mhairi Simpson’. If you’ve been introduced to me since 2011, you probably know me as ‘Mhairi Simpson’. And that’s fine. You may also know me as ‘Anne-Mhairi Simpson’ and that’s fine too. Other acceptable names are ‘You’, ‘Queen Bard’, ‘AM’, ‘Would You Like A Drink?’ and ‘Battle Chicken’.
Just don’t, for the love of all that’s good and pretty and kind, call me ‘Anne’.