A while back, I announced a new pen name and said I would release het/mainstream titles as Elle King. Phoenix was the first book released. It sold seven copies. Yeah, didn’t exactly set the bestseller lists on fire. 😉
But that lackluster showing did make me do some deep thinking about who I am, what I want in life, and how my writing fits into things. Although “Elle King” is very close to my real name, I /am/ Theo Fenraven, heart and soul. I could no more give up that name and identity than I could stop breathing.
I mistakenly thought I had to create a different pen name in order to write in other genres. What a load of shit, huh? But it’s not as if there isn’t precedent. I know quite a few authors who write in several genres and have a separate pen name for each. In some few cases, this worked well for them. In others, and I include myself in this group, they failed to reach their target audience.
I could feel bad about this, but I won’t. It was an experiment that failed. I learned some things, and I’m moving forward.
When I started writing, I was a kid. Things were different then. The world was more black and white. Born female, I wrote het, but I almost always identified with the man, not the woman. I’ve since discovered I am gender fluid, and the older I get, the more I identify as male.
Theo was born a long time ago, but I didn’t fully embrace him until I discovered the m/m genre. He is a confluence of many things: the coming of age of the internet, the publishing revolution, and the recognition that gender falls along a spectrum and not everyone is necessarily male or female.
I still struggle from time to time with who I am, and I’m not going to make it harder for myself by using other pen names. Theo I am, and Theo I will be until I die, I suppose.
Phoenix will be put back under Fen’s name. Everything I release in the future will be published under Theo Fenraven. Whether or not it sells doesn’t matter so much to me anymore. While I might appreciate impressive sales numbers, it’s more important I be able to write what I want in any genre that appeals to me. I realize now how silly it would be to invent a new pseudonym every time I write something different.
People will have to follow me on social media or read the blurbs to find out what the new one’s about, then decide if they want to buy it or not. Phoenix will remain het, and if no one wants to read that, I’m okay with it. Because it’s the story that matters, and the characters who populate it might be straight, gay, bi, trans, or asexual. It isn’t always about orientation. Sometimes it’s about who broke up a marriage or stole a priceless artifact or invented something amazing or even saved the world.
People are people, and I want to write about all of them, regardless of “genre.”
Elle will be dead by the weekend, and Phoenix will be listed under Fen’s name, not hers. No one will remember my real name when I die, but Theo Fenraven will live on as the writer of many books.
I can be proud of that legacy.