Elle Dies

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.

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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14 Responses to Elle Dies

  1. Helena Stone says:

    It is customary to give condolences when someone dies but I’ll refrain. Congratulations seem more appropriate to me in this case. I fail to see why Theo Fenraven can’t be the author of all the words in all the genres. Personally, once I fall in love with an author’s stories I like to explore everything they write and having to remember and then go look for them under several different names is just too much like hard work. It’s funny you post this now; in the not too distant future (I can’t remember the exact date) a post on the same subject I wrote for TEB will go up. I firmly believe that the fast majority of readers is more than clever enough to look at a cover, read a blurb and/or look at the tags and decide whether or not a book is for them. The one or two who buy blindly and suddenly find themselves reading a genre the weren’t expecting only have themselves to blame (and may discover that broadening your horizons is actually quite rewarding).

    As far as people not reading Phoenix is concerned; that decision is very much their loss. it’s a good book and a wonderful story. I for one refuse to let a good book pass me by just because of the gender of the protagonists. After all, if we’re striving for equality in the real world, shouldn’t we be accepting the same when it comes to authors and genres?

  2. I think Helena above said everything I was thinking as I read your post. Elle may have been a thoughtful experiment, but I wouldn’t consider her a mistake because in the end she bolstered and solidified–even more so–Theo’s existence. I can understand why some choose to have a bazillion names for each genre type, but don’t they all eventually converge? Readers who aren’t genre-bound and love the work under one pseudonym typically seek out the books written under the other pseudonyms; I know I do. So write all the words in all the genres as yourself, as Theo. Aside–those who didn’t (or haven’t yet) read Phoenix are completely missing out, because it’s a fantastic supernatural story, in spite of the added romantic deliciousness; and I mean that regardless of whether it was het or MM or FF or any combination of romantic elements.

  3. ludwigcarol5 says:

    See, I never think of you as being born female. I just always think of you as Theo Fenraven, the really cool author who takes awesome pictures and posts some of the most thought provoking, daring , articles of any one I know. I never once considered you as anything other than male. I have to admit that I didn’t read your het book and that is my loss. I will read it as a Theo Fenraven book. The male author. Stay true to yourself Theo Fenraven. Your fans adore him.

  4. You couldn’t see me, but I was sitting on my sofa, fistpumping as I read this. When you created Elle, I panicked just a bit. If you recall, my first comment was, “You’ll still be Theo, though, right??” You ARE Theo. Always and forever. And, to me, anyway, you are the dude in the red hoodie that says ‘Writer At Play” – you’re not the dark, creepy thing that I keep trying to draw smiley faces on. 🙂 You may have a dark *side* (so do I), but you are not a dark person.

    I’ve read Phoenix in both versions and I can’t honestly say one is any better than the other. It was a really interesting experiment for me – especially since I basically ONLY read M/M now. Can I take a M/M story I loved and make the MC a female – and still love the story? The answer, surprisingly, is ‘yes’. It really didn’t change the story at all. It’s cool as heck either way. But then, your female characters are strong and interesting, which is not the norm in het stories – at least most of the ones I’ve read.

    Go ahead and kill Elle, but instead of memorializing her, let’s celebrate Theo! ((HUGS))

  5. suze294 says:

    I’m another who only thinks of you as Theo, author of books I enjoy! Dont know how I missed the launch of Phoenix as you’d have had 8 sales – obviuously not an attentive day for me. I shall diary to look for it under your true name next week!
    Live long and prosper Theo Fenraven!!!

    • It’s been reloaded to Amazon and should be available tonight or tomorrow.

      I ran around online this morning, killing Elle’s accounts (wherever I could; GoodReads refuses to let you kill an author page even if you’re the freaking author!). I had problems with D2D, and it turns out ARe never made it available (no idea! but it pissed me off). So… it’s like publishing it anew anyway.

  6. Yvonne says:

    For some reason I’ve always liked the name Theo Fenraven. It caught my eye on AJ’s blog and since then I’ve loved every story you’ve written. So don your red hoodie and keep ‘m coming.

  7. diannegray says:

    Rest in Peace Elle. I’m looking forward to seeing Phoenix under the Theo Fenraven brand 😀
    Just being able to write (and have the opportunity to write) is the best thing ever – sales are just a spin off. If they happen they happen if they don’t… that’s when our philosophical selves kick in xxx

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