”What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Let’s talk pen names, shall we? Some authors don’t have one. Some have several. Me? I technically have a “pen name,” though it’s just my initials instead of my full name, so it’s still my name. I use it because it’s a smidge more professional-sounding, and because it gives my author “persona” a slight delineation from my normal self. Otherwise, though, I don’t really hide who I am when it comes to my writing. I am me, and AJ is me, and that’s that.
Now, as a multi-genre author, that can be a sticky wicket. I mean, the whole reason some authors use different pen names is to delineate the genre they’re writing in. One name for YA, one for romance, hell, sometimes one for each subgenre of romance. Me? I don’t write YA–period. I just can’t be bothered to censor myself that much. LOL It sounds crude, but my characters are adults, and they speak like adults. They’re mostly younger adults, so yeah, they curse and use inappropriate phrasing and what have you. They’re also often in rather adult situations, and I’m not talking about voting or drinking alcohol. Dystopian sci-fi, paranormal romance, rom-com, I don’t care what it is, odds are my books are going to have sex in them. Graphic sex. Anatomically-correct sex. Sometimes violent sex, sometimes sweet sex, often dirty sex. Sorry, pearl-clutchers, but I rarely fade to black.
Now, since I established this from the get-go with Whispers of Death, I’m not too worried about it. I mean, if you can get past the scenes in Whispers of Death, you’ll do just fine with my other books. For the most part…Let’s just say I don’t shy away from any aspect of sex, good or bad.
Most of the sex I write is good, but sometimes the sex is harsh. That’s life; take it or leave it. I’m not going to apologize for it.
Now, sex aside, let’s say I randomly decided to write, oh, a modern-day psychological thriller. No supernatural/paranormal stuff, no sci-fi aspects, just plain ol’ everyday thriller. Am I going to spend hours picking the perfect pen name to go with that? No! I’m just going to keep on truckin’ and get the story down. Who has time for the pen name shenanigans when the Muse has spoken?
I get that, for some authors, they’re afraid of stalkers and the like. They don’t want their real names “outed,” or maybe they don’t want their friends and family to know the kind of stuff they write. Okay. That’s fine–for them. For me? I am who I am as an author, and I’m not going to back down from that. If I get a stalker (ha-ha, like that’s gonna happen), I’ll take the necessary legal measures and move on with life. As for my friends and family? Hell, they’re some of my most staunch supporters! They’ll purchase my new books before any “fans” who don’t know me, regardless of the amount of sex or whatever other content is in there.
Okay, so I’ve mentioned convenience, and I’ve mentioned the sex, but let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of my pen name: deep down, at my core, I’m a narcissist. I want my name on all of my work. I want people to know that I wrote X, and that I’m damn proud to have written X, and what better way than to slap my own name on it and let it loose upon the world?
So there’s my story. I am me, I am AJ, and I am not going to become anyone else for the sake of censorship, genre, or anything else. If that pseudonym stuff works for other authors, cool. As for me, I’m gonna stay me.