Noms de plume are really on my mind lately. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a multi-genre writer, and I can’t decide if I should use a pen name for each genre I dip my toe into or not. On the one hand, I want to use my own name because I like my name and all that. On the other, I don’t want every piece I write in each genre to be cross examined and compared. We all know there are people out there who hold expectations regardless of the genre they are reading. Those same people also want writers to write the same things over again. I have choice words for these people but I will keep them to myself.
There are other things in different columns of this debate but these are the big two I’m focused on.
My prime example is Kelley Armstrong. Armstrong hit it big with her Women of the Otherworld series: a 13 book compendium with numerous anthologies and short stories set in the supernatural world she created. She has also written two YA trilogies, the first of which came out roughly after book 9 of WotO was published (I don’t feel like researching but I feel that that’s right). She has also published two books in a mystery series she started way back when WotO was very young as well as a middle grade series she started after WotO wrapped up. In 2013 her newest series, Cainsville, debuted with Omens.
Her YA took off because the kids don’t really know about her adult horror series -that’s my opinion anyway. The other series haven’t developed a cult following like WotO, though. If you go on Goodreads you’ll see the ratings aren’t as high and the reviews not very positive. And I tell you, it’s not Armstrong’s lack of narrative skill. I’ve read everything but the YA and I will defend her writing to the end. I blame people who want her to rewrite WotO and don’t understand generic differences. Again, choice words!
Do I think I’m going to gain the success Kelley Armstrong has? Excuse me while I get off the floor where I was rolling around laughing. Still, I seriously don’t want my work judged unfairly. But, a pen name needs to mean something to me. I can’t just pull a random name out of the air and call it my own.
This is my dilemma. And I really need some input! Have you used or considered a pen name? What’s your stance on them in general?