In my last update a couple of weeks back, I revealed that I was working on a short story collection for a fall release…18 or so stories that fit a common thread or an overall thematic mood. It was more or less to put my writing past behind me as pretty much all those stories were written as far back as the late 90s which was my golden age period. I wrote fiction for years before really attempting to share it with an audience outside of writer workshops. So I have quite the vault of stories in varying lengths, genres, styles and all that.
Well, inxay the collection, at least how I originally envisioned it, and perhaps not as soon as this fall or the foreseeable future. Because of that aforementioned versatility, I’ve come to the decision to launch a handful of pen names and assign appropriate stories and future projects under them. It just makes sense, really, and it’s so liberating, say, for instance, writing and presenting a very female-centric story under a blatantly female pen name.
It’s a long road getting back to this position (a 360 really). When I first started writing prose in 1993, I had studied the career of one Dean Koontz who had used a dozen pen names because, like me right out of the gate, he also wrote in multiple different genres (often cross-genre) using multiple different styles and whatnot. Long story short, though reluctant, it was necessary for him in those times of the 1970s and 80s because publishers (and readers) not keen to pigeonhole a prolific writer, especially one who changed up styles and genres often. It was simply too hard for a prolific, versatile writer to get any traction under one name (especially when a struggling author was putting out five novels a year to put food on the table).
Well, even today, when you’re not yet a brand name, it’s hard to establish a brand with such diversity. The last several years I had been of the mind that it was “to hell with it all, accept me and my diversity as we are”, but that ego-centric approach puts the name/ the persona first instead of allowing the stories to get the fair shake they deserve. Flash-forward to today, in studying certain markets I’ve come to understand that I would face certain gender bias in certain cases. It’s a silly game to be played, but with today’s publishing options (and in some cases lack thereof), it makes more sense to approach it this way, cover all bases and attack from various angles.
Also in my research I was reminded that back in the day (18th & 19th centuries) many women writers had to adopt male pen names because of publisher and reader bias. Everyone knows that women really used to have it bad all over, and I’ve always been real sensitive to their plight in society to a balanced extent. And so the ugly truth of the business of publishing is that readers are discriminate when it comes to associating certain works with a particular genre. No sense in fighting against that with my ego saying “Well, they’re going to accept me as the writer I am regardless.” Yeah, I’m proud of my versatility and my wide-ranging interests in fiction and stoytelling. But if I want the work to get the due attention it deserves without arbitrary interference, then the pen name option will help achieve that.
So the pen names will be launched next month across the web and digitally (though perhaps not in print for a while). I will not be exposing them here or abroad; only editors and publishers will know when I sign their contracts. So there will not be any cross-association of the four (or so) pen names with my true name in any public sense. Of course, there will still be plenty under the usual Brandon L. Rucker byline. I associate with and cross-promote so many other writers across the web that it will be a seamless process to include my ‘secret aliases’ (muhahahahah!) in my promotional efforts.
I have more news, but I gotta scoot to the day job. So, until later…