Sunday, August 23, 2009

Your Thoughts

It's nice when a throw away line of mine prompts comments from you, which then leads to a topic I can post about.

So - using a Pseudonym to create a break between two, or more, different areas of work. Some are for it, some against. I want to know what you think.

I've written only for adults to this point in time but I'm now working on the first book in what I see as a possible YA series.

When I started writing fiction I was told that as soon as I moved into writing erotica I should use a Pseudonym to separate that work from anything else I'd done.

The reasoning behind it was straight forward enough - some minorities would look down on an author who dabbled on the wilder side of things and a writer can do without any smudges hampering an already difficult career choice.

I ignored that advice and still sent out all my work under my name.

Some people go further still and write horror under one name, sci-fi under another, fantasy under another and erotica under still yet another. And then they use something else again to write anything for younger markets. I think I'd forget who I was if I tried that.

I'm quite proud to be a writer and very happy to point to the work I've had accepted around the place, regardless of the genre, market or anything else, but age is something I'm willing to take into account.

I don't want kids, or teens for that matter, reading some of my racier stories. Obviously I don't want them reading erotica. My story 'Dreaming' has quite an intense sex scene in the middle of it that I'd rather nobody under 18 was reading (no, I'm not a prude, nor was I a total innocent as a teen - far from it - but I wouldn't want my kids reading it so I wouldn't want any other kids reading it).

And yet the selfish part of me who wants to put my name, the one given to me by my parents, to my work, is still strong.

So I'm throwing it open for discussion, but it needs to be more than a yes or no answer here. I like to make a final decision after informed discussion, and your opinion matters to me.

If you're in the yes camp, then how does one come up with a suitable replacement name? If you're a no, then how do I keep kids from searching for my name once I've sold more books than JK, and finding the more adult content I've written?

I look forward to reading your suggestions.


  1. I kind of think you might need to go with the pseudonym option for writing YA, even if you were ok with kids reading sex scenes.

    I think parents are going to be wary of letting their kids even read your YA work if in the future you also become known for writing adult works with darker and sexual content.

    Could you imagine some parents letting their kids read a YA novel by Stephen King.

  2. That's kind of what I'm thinking but then I still want my name somehow associated with my work.

    So does that then mean my YA nom de plume needs to contain my initials, a shortened version of my name or do I just pick a nickname?

    Current front runners would be:

    Caedmon Skysoul (but then I'm not writing fantasy)

    B. T. James (My initials and my mother's maiden name)

    B. T. Carter (my wife's maiden name)

    It's so much easier just using my own name...

  3. The only thing I got "published" on EDF was under a pseudonym. My main comment/forum posting account there was a separate pseudonym.

    This blogger account name... pseudonym.

    My Windows XP account name... pseudonym.

    Email account name... pseudonym.

    I love pseudonyms.

    You can probably guess which side I fall into on this debate. ;-)

    "Anton Gully"?

    My real name is very generic and shared with at least two personalities.

  4. I've struggled with that too, because your name is your brand. My YA (which is what I wrote first) is under 'Laura Eno'. The para romance, which has explicit sex, is under 'L S Eno'.

    I'm happy with the compromise. It's still my name, but different enough that it shouldn't come up in a kid's search.

  5. I have considered this as well. I don't write explicit sex, but I do write graphic violence. most of which is free to read if you know my name. I think that if I am up front with a publisher (and I ever get a publisher) we can work out a compromise. I think I would use J.C. Ruse. (first initials and mothers maiden name.)

  6. If I got to name a category for my own stories, I'd call it "Sex and Death". Yeah, they don't always have both in huge amounts, but my favorites generally do. Oftentimes violently, or in ways that are otherwise disturbing.

    Which is why if I were to write YA, I think I'd have to do it under a pseudonym. I think your method of choosing one is good-- BT James or Carter would work really well.

    And it isn't as if you have to pretend it's not you-- more along the lines of us knowing that Disney owns ABC, but we're more likely to get something safe for a five year old out of the Disney Channel.

  7. It would depend on if I thought the same audience would read both. If not, I can see the benefit of a pen name. Young readers, for instance, don't need to know about Relentless Sodomy: The Musical! until they're older.

    Stephen King said that he created his alter ego as a way to write stories that people didn't want "Stephen King" writing. I can see his point. I think if I was well known, and had a book in mind that would clash strongly with my image, I would consider using a pen name for the book's sake.

    The key here being "strongly." Writers are supposed to grow and have their voices evolve.

    As for erotica, it would depend on if it was dark/scary. If I ever write yaoi-type erotica, I might use a name that amuses me ; )

  8. All good points and interesting advice.

    Thank you one and all.

  9. I have friends who write erotica and use pseudonyms as they also write other genres and want to keep them separate. I'd probably do the same if I was writing erotica and YA.

  10. Oh, and I like the idea of using your mother's maiden name.