Writers and Pen Names

Male Novelist Could Be First Man To Win Romantic Novel Award Since 1960

Posted at 7:19AM Monday 17 Feb 2014

For more than 50 years, female writers have won the top UK award for romantic fiction, and at first 2014 looked to be no different.

But all was not as it seemed. One of the 36 writers shortlisted by the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) for its Romantic Novel of the Year award, Jessica Blair, is in fact a pseudonym of Bill Spence, a 90-year-old war hero.”

Book Trade.info website.

I’m happy for Jessica Blair aka Bill Spence. Historically many noted women have written under male pseudonyms.  An article about the various reasons authors choose pen names and some of the more famous women who have written under a mans name or one that could be gender ambiguous.

Now we are seeing a rise in the opposite phenomenon. There are a number of men who write under a female pen name particularly in the area of romance fiction. Why? probably to be taken more seriously.

Rumor has it that J.K. Rowling was advised to publish under those initials rather than her name Jessica because a nine year old boy wouldn’t want to read an adventure book written by a woman.

So, why should it be any different for a man trying to write romance.

Lisette Kristensen is one such author, a man writing under a female pen name. There are many in varying degrees of being outed as such. Some writers on both sides of the switch, prefer to keep their gender identity unknown.

Yes, there are even men who write Lesbian Erotic Fiction. I don’t particularly find anything wrong with that. The proof is in the book that they write. Either a reader likes it or they don’t. I’m not especially concerned whether a man, a woman, a transgendered individual or who wrote it.

Straight women write lesbian erotic fiction and they write m/m gay erotic fiction. Straight men write m/m erotic fiction and they write lesbian erotic fiction. Lesbian women write m/m erotic fiction and I’m sure there is a gay man out there who writes lesbian erotic fiction.

Does it really matter? If I am a fan of say an author… Raquel Reinhold, for example, just to throw a name out there…and I love what she writes. I love it so much that I correspond with her via her face book page (set up as an author’s page), and via email. She is going to correspond with me in the context of that pen name.

Do I have any idea WHO Raquel Reinhold really is? All I know is the presentation of the Author’s page, that she writes lesbian erotic fiction. Is she obligated to correspond with me and say er oh, by the way I’m a middle aged white man living in Baltimore? I DON’T THINK SO. She has her reasons for adopting a female pen name. Just as any woman has the right to adopt a male pen name. People, it is fiction writing and a social networking platform based on a pseudonym.

There are a host of reasons why a person might choose a pen name opposite their apparent gender. Do I feel deceived by this? If I am then I’d better be offended by everyone who writes fiction. It wasn’t written as expose memoire and expected to be biographical.

I recently had a guest on my page that had evidently adopted a pen name based on a gender opposite their apparent one.

I received a comment on my page that I can only attribute to a militant separatist lesbian group. I don’t use that label as “name calling” but strictly as descriptive of what I am seeing. They actually frighten me a little bit in the extent they went to stalking this author. Yes I said stalking.

They have hundreds of screen shots from this author’s FB page. They investigated all this author’s various pen names and via the website records of who actually owned the website behind the pen name. They even have power bills from the author’s home. They called the author’s home/cell phone number. And they’ve published all of this information on several websites. They’ve admitted to one of their websites being forced down and claim to continue posting, I suppose, in the name of all that’s right and just in the universe. Can you say Cough, Cough, er CRAZY, Cough, Cough.

They have outed this author with cries of fraud and deception for every pen name this particular author adopts. And they are on the watch to ferret out each new name that evolves. The author apparently forced to adopt a new pen name, in what I can only assume is an effort to escape their dogged relentless pursuit. And, yes I am being especially vague on the name and details of this author in question. Firstly because I don’t want to give any more air time than I already have to the women who have this author under attack. And, secondly because I don’t have a desire to out this author in question. It’s not my place.

Reading the multiple blogs and posts about the ‘crimes’ this author allegedly perpetrated upon readers I have to shrug and say… okay, a couple of the alleged actions weren’t in best judgement professionally. It’s tacky to have one pen name leave a good review for another pen name of the same person. Have I done it? sure, when I was brand new published and before I thought wiser of it. And there was a matter I wasn’t clear on about a contest. I couldn’t pick my way through to understand what the issue was there. However, come on people… You weren’t catfished on match.com. Either the writer tells a good story worth the $2 bucks or they don’t. You don’t like the plot, don’t buy it.

Now, if I am to understand some of their rant, I believe they were especially disappointed because they would only want their dollars spent on lesbian erotic fiction to go to true lesbian writers. What? Shall they require authors to produce a birth certificate and their ‘I’m a real lesbian’ card prior to purchase. The position of “I will only do business with confirmed GLBTQ organizations and individuals” is just as detrimental to the cause of tolerance and equality as those who stand on the opposite bank and throw rocks saying “Gay’s not served here.” ‘Woosa’ people.

I can’t even fathom the brokenness that leads to this kind of behavior and attitude. I realize I risk coming under their scrutiny and perhaps wrath by writing this blog. The whole experience has reminded me that while bullies do grow up, they don’t necessarily out-grow and stop the bully behaviors.

I will entertain discussion and comments but! I’ll delete anything I deem out of line. My Sand Box – My Rules

17 responses to “Writers and Pen Names

  1. For me personally the Male writing Lesbian Fiction was/is not the major issue. The issue is the specific man you are talking of perpetuated false friendships using his Female/Lesbian persona to instigate friendships and virtual sexual liaisons… He purposely engaged in lies about his orientation and gender. Male writing Lesbian Fiction happens frequently.. Males lying about what gender and orientation they are to garner friendships is another issue. Will you not post this response either because it does NOT fall in line with your opinion?

    • I’m happy to post your comment. I agree that those actions are not ones I could support. I don’t even know the person in question I gave a female pen name an opportunity to promote on my page. Evidently this situation has been going on for some time in the community which I was unaware. I support anyone having the opportunity to write what they wish. But not using a false identity to catfish people in personal relationships.

  2. Yeah, I’m very familiar with this situation. There are several women who have had a very difficult time getting over the bogus online relationships initiated by Larsen. Rape doesn’t have to be physical. These women say they feel raped. To stand by and allow a man to secretly interact sexually with lesbians as if he were a lesbian would be like turning away from a rape in progress.

    As for the pen name issue, who cares? Fiction is fiction and only the simple of mind are incapable of separating art from the artist.

    • I was addressing the behaviors projected toward me and on my page attacking someone for writing lesbian fiction under a pen name. There are two separate issues here.

      • Well, then, it might have helped your credibility to have stuck with your initial topic. Once you veered off into the Larson unpleasantries, you put forth too many uninformed judgments to be taken seriously.

  3. I agree with you, 88. Fiction is fiction and for me, it is about how well a book is written. The story, the character development, the plot, etc. is far more important than the gender or pen name of the author!
    AND if I find that an author is, for example, a pedophile, does that change my attitude about reading his/her books? Sure it does AND because I have a choice, I can stop reading the work. (I don’t even like reading about such subject matter. Again, my choice not too…)
    I can certainly understand and empathize with those in the lesbian community feeling, as 88 put it, raped and used.(I am not familiar with this story, but I know how bad it feels to be misled and deceived.)
    This is what I say to those being called “militant Lesbians”: This sounds like rich fodder for a great novel! WRITE IT! It would make a superb mystery!
    Oh and I write under a pen name, Ellys Phox ( http://www.ellysphox.com ). It is a combination of my wife and my name. And just for clarity, we are both women. I am an author, who is lesbian, who writes solid fiction that includes, in leading roles, lesbian characters. I am not just a lesbian author, writing lesbian fiction. I started out my life (the first 50-odd years) straight, then found love for the third time with a woman. Here’s my story if you’re interested. http://womenwords.org/2014/03/16/mid-lif-an-opening-by-sd-saxon-m-s-writing-as-ellys-phox/
    Fact is, it takes all kinds…:-) Namaste

    • A major point is here women have written m/m gay erotic romance without the persecution this male author is attracting from the lesbian community. Just because he is male doesnt mean he can’t write quality lesfic.

      • Ameliah Faith

        No Eden that is not the major point, the major point you are trying to make is that a “militant separatist lesbian group” (which no matter how it is said IS name calling!) “harassed” a guy who writes under a woman’s name. NONE of that was necessary for the first topic. I think you led with the first issue so you could attack the courageous women who refuse to sit back and let someone hurt another.

  4. Ameliah Faith

    Really Eden? Really! What and how one writes is NOT the same issue as what Joseph P Larsen (and all HIS pen name personalities) has done at all! I am the last person anyone would call militant or separatist ( I have several straight women friends that write f/f BUT THEY NEVER LIED about who and what the are!) but what he did is just so sick and wrong… He took advantage of women and HURT them!!!! It is just sickening that YOU would stick up for him and call out the women who are refusing to let him hurt anyone else just baffles the hell out of me! WHY??? Why would you do that? Why would ANY woman let a man get away from crimes against women, especially a man who is pretending to be a lesbian. Do we not have enough haltered from society in general? To turn against women in your own community is ghastly and unforgivable. I am so very, very disappointed in you.

    ~Ameliah Faith Ryan (Bio woman and lesbian)

    P,S I wonder if this will make it into your blog…

  5. Call me Militant! I embrace it; I happen to have chatted with gay men who feel that the entire m/m fic written by straight women isn’t gay at all,doesn’t express their culture or their sexuality. Basically it’s romfic written to appeal to straight women. So yes there is a difference.
    As for Larsen, that’s dangerous and those women aren’t militant, they’re normal and smart.

    • I guess we agree to disagree Claudia. When someone tracks down the owner of a webpage and approaches them at home with threatening phone calls. Yea, that’s militant to me. While catfishing people isn’t nice and is very hurtful and can end up with heartbreak and sadness. I’m not getting what any of that has to do with me promoting a book on my page for a pen named person. I think any problems with him in social groups should be taken to those social groups.

      I’m really feeling like I’m the one here that is being bullied and attacked for standing up for one of my guests right to write and promote on my page. That’s my issue here.

  6. Ameliah Faith

    Eden, some of the militant lesbians are NOT anonymous, they freely show what they have learned in public forums. It is not just about a man writing lesbian fiction. If it were then there would be a host of others they would have made mention of. No one is denying anyone’s right to write. They are putting their reputations personal and as writers on the line. Why would anyone risk their livelihood for something so trivial?

    If he did nothing wrong, then why has he changed his name so often, why hide? Why not stand up for yourself? Why, because more women might just come forward to confront his behaviour and others would be made aware and his group of potential victims would shrink. This is EXACTLY what these women are trying to do, to make women aware and stay safe. Why on earth would that EVER be a bad thing?

    You pulled a post because it bordered on harassment, does this post not do the same, the difference is you are the one to do the attacking.

    As the owner of the blog do you feel no need to verify your guests are who they say they are? or at least when something like this arises do you not look for the truth from all sides before weighing in on something this intense? You have bought his story hook, line and sinker and not done any digging of the truth. Why would you want yourself caught up in this? Now it is YOUR reputation both personal and professional that is on the line.

    You have done irreparable harm today. You can back peddle all you want to but we know now what your true colours are. It will be a long time before we forgive and even longer before we forget. I for one am ashamed to know you.

  7. Ameliah Faith

    If you truly did not know the story, why would you not pull the post until you did? Why take his story at face value? You never acknowledged even the slightest chance he may not be such a great person, you struck out at women without a second thought. You didn’t try to find the truth and even when it was pointed out, you still jumped to his defence. Was his blog today’s and you pulled it to replace it with this one? If not then you were very well informed not all was what it seemed and YOU brought it to the forefront again. If this truly bothers you as much as you say it does then do something about it!

  8. Concerned Lesbian

    Eden, the bottom line is you dissed lesbians who did the lesbian community a favor by their exposing this male pervy. Call it stalking all you want. It was investigating a complaint by lesbians. You ran with your anti-lesbian rant instead of investigating. Now you are playing the victim. Why don’t you use your energy to support those lesbians who were emotionally raped by the pervy cretin you defend?

  9. Deb Harshman

    Eden Glenn, please allow me to introduce myself as one of those “militant separatist lesbians” that you are speaking of here.

    Yes, I did hundreds of hours of research on RoJoe. The reason I was so thorough was because I needed to be one hundred percent certain that Robin Roseau was in fact Joe P Larsen.

    When I first became aware of RoJoe I tried to allow him the opportunity to at least tell me personally about himself, since we has corresponded a number of times. He refused to discuss this with me and ended all correspond ace once he realized I knew who he was.

    The problem was not his writing lesbian fiction, but was the lengths that he went to deceive women and create liaisons with some of these women.

    Yes I said that I personally choose to use my money to support women writers that is my personal choice. I should be allowed to make that choice with some reasonable assurance that I know where my money is going! Just like my choosing to shop at the farmers market rather than a chain grocery store.

    I am looking at your blog a little differently that some of the others. I wish to thank you for provoking new discussion on this subject!

  10. Ameliah Faith

    Thank you so very, very much for looking out for the women of our community and not letting him get away with his treachery and deceit! You and the others have my admiration and respect!

  11. One last time, my position is that this is a work place for authors and their promotion not a social net work site.

    I believe in an author’s right to take a pen name.

    I think it is wrong to deceive people in relationships.

    If you are the victim of a crime such as rape, please report it to law enforcement and get the help and support you are entitled to and deserve, prosecution, counseling and other resources to your avail.

    Be careful when making on line friendships. You really don’t know that everyone is honest in their dealings with you in any form of relationship, intimate, cyber or face to face.