When I was in college, I was writing both mainstream fiction and genre fiction, and I felt like those arenas were two different worlds: oil and water, Montagues and Capulets. So rather than commit definitively to one or the other, I submitted my genre work with a pen name. I saw nothing wrong with that option; it was made for a logical reason, and the name I chose was slightly exotic but not outlandish.
I can still vividly remember sending a story to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy and opening the magazine a few weeks later to see a scathing editorial she’d written about pen names. I couldn’t help feeling that my submission had sparked her tirade, and I took it very personally. She dismissed pen names as frivolous and clearly had never considered that someone might have a good reason for wanting to use one. I didn’t agree with her opinion then, and I reject it again now.
You can probably see where this post is heading. I’m about 99% convinced that, if and when I ever publish my novel, it’s going to be under an alias. (No, I’m not going to reveal it here — that would largely defeat the point.) My reasons now are different than they were in college, but I have them and they’re good enough for me. I don’t really care if they’re good enough for the Marion Zimmer Bradleys of the world. There will always be people with strong opinions about things, and I’m not worried about pleasing them. As they say, you can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself.
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