When I first started writing semi-professionally, I was in the 9th grade. I’ve told the story before, so I won’t rehash it in this post. In 9th grade I knew nothing of love, nothing east of the 605 Fwy or west of the 710 fwy. I was bound in an inner city with little knowledge of anything beyond my ten square miles. That was my world, what little there was, and I had no doubt in my mind that my geographical knowledge was little.
So when a wise teacher discovered an introvert roaming the halls talking to herself, she opened a whole new world. My imagination basically encompassed steamy kisses with Han Solo, and idealistic snippits of stolen romance with Indiana Jones … okay, I had a thing for a young Harrison Ford. But when Ms. Ruben penned me behind an old green screened computer, my ten square miles of life grew into an infinite world that only ended where I told it to.
My first stories were built up around the unknown, around falling through mirrors into deserts where other students had mysteriously disappeared into. The winds spoke of being the Alpha and the Omega, leaving young teenagers to survive in a world of horror. My first stories delved into the unknown, because in 9th grade the unknown was the only tangible thing I could write about. By the end of middle school, I had written five full length horror stories, and my mom tended to pray over me a lot more, though she always supported my talent.
As I grew older, my horizons broadened and I dipped into the world of romance, but I never found particular accomplishment in the genre. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a tragic romance; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl finds new guy but secretly hopes her true love will return. The sappy stuff. Where I found my true talent was in subjective fiction, or speculative fiction as it is also called. In the Benjamin Button stories of “what if.” I’ve made a name for myself in my genre of the dark story with the light at the end of the tunnel, but along the way I missed those good horror stories, the ability to invent terror and shock.
A few months ago, I entered a horror story contest to be placed into an anthology. The reviews were magnificent, however I was graciously asked to change the perspective of the story to third person omniscient, and the story would be published, in which I respectfully declined. After talking among family and friends, I decided to publish this short story on my own. And with that grew a new dilemma. My name is my brand, and hopefully synonymous with subjective fiction. But what happens when I publish in a different genre all together? Should my name and brand follow me into the new genre?
In the end, I have decided to use a pen name. I feel it is important to separate subjective fiction me from horror story me, and to keep the brands and identities apart. The way I see it, if I enjoyed reading Jane Smith’s historical romance, then blindly purchased a Jane Smith book based solely on the knowledge that I like her genre, only to start reading and discover it is extreme erotica … well I might be upset. So in the spirit of creative writing and fiction, I will invent my own persona, and thusly birth a new alter ego.
Congratulations, it’s a girl!
Think it’s difficult to come up with a character name? Try coming up with a name you’ll have to live with. By the way, there is a process, and I will further explore this in my next post. Please chime in on your thoughts of using pen names for different writing styles.