Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Using a Pen Name

So you know, Lyn Perry writes "short fiction with a dash of the fantastic" (thank you, I thought of that tagline myself :) Or maybe more accurately, "light, speculative fare with a bit of humor and spiritually thematic elements, but including at times regular science fiction and fantasy." That might work, but it's a bit clumsy as a slogan. So fiction with a splash of speculation works.

But what if I wanted to write crime, thriller, suspense or horror or western or romance or (ahem) erotica? Would you, who know me as an SF/F'ish writer (or can spot my writing style from a mile away, as one friend said to me recently) want to follow me through these various genres? Maybe not. Or, expecting a fun bit of whimsy you instead pick up a gritty bit of realism with my name on it, would you be disappointed? Maybe so.

Thus the consideration of a pen name. A mask that identifies an author with a particular genre or style. Lots of reasons to write under a pseudonym (for a far reaching and fascinating treatment of the topic, read Dean Wesley Smith's current blog) and some good reasons for those names to be "open" (that is, readily identifiable with the main name). For examples, read Dean's post.

My struggle - as I branch out from fiction with a dash of the fantastic - is whether I come clean with my pen name on these pages. Point of fact, I'm writing a "top secret" serial novella (progress bar on the right) under a different name. Because it's not fantasy. It's not light and fluffy. It's mainstream fiction, contemporary, brutally realistic - which means it contains violence, elements of abuse, foul language, and sexual situations. Yet staying within my internal frame of reference, this project goes somewhere - and I hope it takes the reader somewhere as it posits in narrative weighty matters of loss, faith, and meaning.

So my question for you. (I so want to add gentle reader, lol. I guess I just did.) WWYD?
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