The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Elusive Mary Mance


By Anne Chudobiak

The best thing about my old apartment was my nom de plume: Mary, my middle name, and Mance, an abstraction from the name of my street. For a while there, Mary Mance was quite ambitious. She was going to be a novelist, the kind who wouldn’t use her real name. Mary Mance would write romance, not erotica. Sensual when appropriate.

The worst thing about my old apartment was the office, which was a mess. Two desks and all of our books. Bad lighting. When I picture it now, I can’t help but think, “Mary Mance. You can’t write romance in the same room as the litter box. It’s not healthy.”

We lived next door to an eligible bachelor who conducted his real-life romance--with a woman I’ll call “N”--at high volume. High sensuality--that was what the people at Harlequin called it (this according to the book Mary had bought, the one that told you how to write a bestseller “From spark to finish.”)

Mary’s romance was not set on Jeanne-Mance St. or even in Montreal, but in Nova Scotia, at a bed-and-breakfast in a fishing village on the Eastern Shore. That’s where a cosmopolitan young divorcée would be reunited, at long last, with Connor, the necessarily conflicted hero.

Mary didn’t have to do much research. The B&B was based on a business some friends of my in-laws had started. One of those early-retirement dreams that seems romantic until the husband gets a bad weave and starts spending all his time in the bar with the maid. The B&B folded and so did Mary’s novel. Eventually, we moved to a place one block over.

The romance how-to guide survived the move, but was demoted to the very top shelf of the inlaid cabinet, one of the more attractive features of our new apartment on avenue de l’Esplanade.

Connor and the divorcée didn’t make it across the threshold. They never even got to kiss.

I don’t know what happened to the bachelor next door, but every now and then, I see his ex-girlfriend, the woman I call “N.” The last time was at an open house for a school in a neighbourhood neither of us actually lived in. When she saw me, she laughed, because she knew that I was contemplating a new pen name, to be falsely acquired via Photoshop. Mary Durocher or Mary Querbes--it didn’t matter which, as long as it put us “in district”--wouldn’t write romance, though. A woman with that kind of gall would have to write intrigue. It turns that I’m not a spy novelist either. Commercial fiction is harder than I thought.

(Pictured: Kitty Mance)

6 Comments:

Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

Well hello Kitty Mance, aren't you lovely. Did she move with you Anne? You made me laugh with this post, mostly at myself since I'm still hiding behind my middle name :)

Wed Aug 30, 12:49:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Well, this was really funny. The writerly path not taken -- at least not yet.

Wed Aug 30, 01:54:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Anne C. said...

Anna, nothing could have shocked me more. You're a pseudonym!

Wed Aug 30, 02:48:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Patricia said...

you have such a beautiful name and are such a wonderful writer, just curious, why would you not want to use your name?? I have often thought of doing it...and well, you never know, I may yet for some of the pieces I have....but...aghhhhh...I just don't know who I'd be, Patti Jones is the current leader...it bugs me though, Mary Mance is great!! Take a chance with Mary Mance who writes romance and loves to dance...xoxo

do you wonder if you used your real name...well....maybe try it...I don't know, great post and picture.

Tue Sep 05, 01:54:00 am GMT-4  
Anonymous Kitty Mance said...

Wow thats a great pic of me LMAO

Sat Oct 22, 03:54:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Kitty Mance said...

....and yes I am a real person.

Sat Oct 22, 03:57:00 pm GMT-4  

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