What makes an author write under a different name ? Well, some may actually be criminals on the run, looking to make a bit of money within their tough fly-by-night schedule. Some may be ashamed of what they have written and loathe to be publicly linked to it.Some having become lost in their world of make-believe may have actually forgotten whom they are and probably decided that any name was as good as another. I think though that there may be as many reasons for this as there are authors who practise this sinister act. You'll be surprised whom the dragnet for such authors would bring up, and most are actually quite nice people .A few:
George Eliot- real name, May Anne Evans
Lewis Caroll- real name, Charles Dodgson
JK Rowling- real name, Joane Roeling
Obotunde Ijimere - real name, Uli Beier
George Orwell- real name, Eric Blair
Stan Lee- real name,Stanley Martin Lieber
Richard Bachman- real name, Stephen King
As the list suggests, I would add that some may have decided to use a different name because it is easier to pronounce or to remember;and rather like a stage name or brand, more likely to become popular. For example , just imagine if Microsoft had been William Gates Computer Software Company LLC, or Fela had used the name Olufela Ransome-Kuti on his records. The world might not be the same as it is today.
Why do I sometimes use a pen-name ? Like many other quality writers (he!he! he!),I think it is usually in the best interest of an author to develop what is known as a 'style' - which is like that special aroma that keeps the patrons coming to your one-man(or woman) restaurant from as far away as across the world. If you have read my short story collection Brain Surgery on the Highway, you may have probably noticed a developing style,which fully ripens in the novel A Conference in Ennui. To the undiscerning ,much of the prose may indeed read like schizophrenic rants , which is okay because they were all written to music. And if you couldn't fully appreciate the prose that will be because you can not hear the music. I will give you a hint; in A Conference in Ennui , frequent references were made to a piece of music here and there, and if you cranked up your stereo and loaded that music, the passages takes on new meaning; I swear! Every chapter of both books were written to music. The style which then evolves is literary fiction gone funky. That's the way.. aha.. I like it.. aha.. aha..
I walk a dangerously lonely writing road. Not even one of the books I have written can be compared to any popular author nor indeed any book I have ever read. I have heard several authors say that they write what they like to read but this doesn't quite work the same way with me, because I have always been such a reckless reader and have probably read any stuff you can imagine . As a kid. and before I discovered booze in uni, I did to books with my mind, what termites did to them with their jaws.I read ravenously. Writing what I liked to read would then seem such a dull life , or quite more likely a confused life. So I guess I write what I have not read and wish someone had written. I write the "missing books" of the literary repository. That is my style.
Now what happens if you have a style which you want to be attached to but you want to tell a story which you know wouldn't fit well into that style ? To make your regular readers happy you have two alternatives : one is to abandon the book , the other to change the style and quite sensibly the author too. As a true writer , abandoning the book is never ever an alternative. A story is like a part of you , and it cannot be destroyed without destroying a part of you. The only way you can be safely free from it is to set it free - by writing it out.
Quite recently, I completed the novel titled The Crooked Bullet, which I had for many years carried around in my head (poor me)but couldn't write it because it didn't fit into the style I was developing. Based in London, UK, the story is about a DJ/Journalist making a hilariously disastrous debut as a private detective. Okay, I am obsessed with old school music, and the background is of retro soul/funk music of the seventies : a sub-theme which I lovingly borrowed from the preceding novel, A Conference in Ennui . Now the problem which arose was how do you remove a DJ from his natural habitat of pulp fiction and fit him into into a literary fiction novel ? For me it didn't look right;it sucked. So in steps this new author, which you'd never heard of till now; and his name is Lon Reese. You've guessed right, it is just little old me playing strange games with your mind again. How did I come about the name Lon Reese ? You see, once upon a time ....
So, who exactly does Lon Reese aim to become and what will be the likely fate of Lon Reese after The Crooked Bullet ? I will skim the oil off my reply. Lon Reese aims to be the Grandmaster Flash of pulp fiction - keeping the boogie in your pages. Characters in some stories do not die easily though. Heck James Bond is still alive and killing the girls with his charm. Frank Wire ,private detective aims to be equally as hardy; and I see him appearing in several more Frank Wire mysteries. Watch out for his next adventure in the coming novel The Sex Machine (think James Brown not Lucy Vavaboom)....brought to you by Lon Reese of course.