Why did I use a pen name?

I’m not ashamed of anything I wrote in Respite. In fact I am proud of the novel. Of necessity I’ve read it several times and actually think it is quite good for a first effort. Certainly better than many other self-published books I have struggled to read.

So why not publish it under my own name?

It wasn’t an easy decision, and I laboured long and hard over it. In the end, it just seemed that publishing under a nom de plume was the easiest way, the path of least resistance. In a sense, I lack the courage to publish Respite under my real name.

I am a working professional, and the face I present to my colleagues is probably not someone they would expect to write a book like this. My other friends and some of my family would probably be similarly surprised. Of course there is nothing wrong with revealing a new and perhaps surprising side of yourself to people who think they know you, but you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences. My fear was and is that family and friends I have known for years would see me in a different way, and that would affect our relationships. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I am actually quite content with my life the way it is. I feel no need to rock the boat.

These days, self publishing is so easy, convenient and cheap that anyone can do it. There is no need for anyone else to be involved. It is therefore completely possible to publish any number of books without anyone else knowing. It must have been much more difficult to do that back in the day: at least a handful of people would have known the true identity of the author and they would have to maintain the secret. Even so, there is a long tradition of authors publishing under pseudonyms, including such well known names as Mark Twain and George Orwell.

Publishing under a pseudonym allows me to keep my ordinary workaday life separate from my life as an author. I can have a secret identity, and that’s actually kind of fun. It also avoids any awkwardness that would result from old friends finding out that I could write a book like this. Some people are less open minded than others, and in my experience people become more closed-minded with age. And I am of an age… All that said, I am not that concerned if my identity becomes known. After all, it would mean that someone cared enough to bother. I am no expert at cyber security so I expect it wouldn’t be a difficult task to find out who I am. If it happens, so be it. But I had the choice, and I chose to remain incognito, at least for now. If (as I expect) hardly anyone reads the book, I won’t have to explain myself to those people close to me who might. The book will have to stand on its own merits. So will Cameron.

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