My alter ego
I have something to admit – I have a split personality. There’s the me with the wrong accent on my French given name who works as a travel writer, educator and book columnist and me with the easy to understand name as the novelist who writes romantic stories.
There was a reason for this. Cherie Claire is much easier to find in the bookstore than having to remember Cheré Dastugue Coen. The latter is a mouthful and one most people outside of Louisiana — and quite a bit inside — have trouble pronouncing.
In the lifewriting (memoir writing) class I teach, one of my students wrote about her “alter ego,” a wild, carefree gypsy type. She challenged us all to write about ours. At first I laughed, because as Cheré Coen I actually have an alter ego, Cherie Claire. But the more I thought about writing Cherie Claire as this wild, boa-wearing, romantic woman who eats chocolates and writes sordid love scenes, I couldn’t help but wonder if my alter ego was the other way around.
Here’s why – I published my Cajun Series of historical romances back in the early 2000s with Kensington Publishing Co., then wrote the Cajun Embassy contemporary series. In between those two my editor at Kensington left and I was what you called “orphaned” in the publishing world.
At the time, my father died, I moved back to Louisiana from California and Katrina smashed into my hometown. Suddenly writing fiction wasn’t top on my lists. I continued my day job of writing freelance journalism and published five non-fiction books.
Of course, a novelist will go crazy if not penning stories so eventually I returned to fiction. That novel — about a travel writer who lives through Katrina and now sees ghosts who have died by water — is set to launch very soon.
So, this year I vowed to get all nine books up as ebooks and develop my new travel writer series, plus pen new romances. I didn’t stop doing my day job, but now I have another career on the side, and Cherie Claire was resurrected with a new website, Facebook and Twitter pages and even boards on Pinterest.
It all felt new, excited and real to me and in the process, the me that’s Cheré Coen embraced new things as well. I emptied out my closet and purged my office of items not representing the real me. I bought new clothes and embraced my inner hippie and refuse to wear dresses unless I really, REALLY, want to. I now wear clothes that make me feel good, instead of worrying if they are professional enough. I’m a writer, not a corporate executive!
So here’s my alter ego — it’s me! It just has two names.
Photo: That's me with my cool artist son Joshua Coen when we visited Nashville for a wedding.