Being 'famous' isn't all it's cracked up to be. Think about it. If you're a celebrity, where would you buy underwear without someone telling a tabloid about it? For example, my children just told me a Packers football player is student teaching in their school, so he can finish his teaching degree. He's a well-known player (we live in the Green Bay area of Wisconsin) and I asked my kids to get me an autograph. Nope…the man wants to remain anonymous so he can just get his degree for when he quits playing football.
As writers, many of us want to be known, to experience the thrill of being seen in stores and getting the attention of their readers. Not me. I have some extended family members who wouldn't treat me very well if they found out who I was. They'd consider me 'rich' and try to take my cash (that's almost funny when you look at what the average writer makes). So, when I began writing seriously, I knew I had to hide behind a persona—three, actually, for the different genres I write.
I have one pen name for writing Christian inspirationals and have been told to never disclose that name with any of my other names. Inspirational readers want their authors to be pure, never writing about anything immoral. Granted, I don't write immoral things (we have three teenagers in the house and they certainly don't need any ideas put in their heads), but some of the things I've written under other pen names are more laid-back. So my inspirational pen name (which shall remain nameless, but some people have figured it out) has become the 'moral' side of my personality, never writing anything close to being off-color, and never writing anything that's non-Christian. It's the way I want my children to live, and don't have to worry about them reading those titles.
Another pen name (Andie Alexander) is for my mysteries and adventures, all written in first person. That pen name is my laid-back name, the one who likes to travel and have fun in life. The stories for that name are fun, even though a murder, danger, or adventure is involved. Some of those stories are about people with weird jobs (like a celebrant—a eulogist) and strange things happening in life.
And the third name is Paige Ryter, a play on words (page writer). This pen name is for my contemporary romances, mostly sweet or very slightly sensual. In Paige's world, the hero and heroine are from different worlds, forced together by some twist of fate. I love romance and wish all men would read romances to take notes on how to treat women. I've tried to get my husband to read a romance of mine, but he's usually laughing hysterically after the first paragraph, saying it would never happen in real life. But think about it…if men would study how women love to be treated, wouldn't life be happier? Thus, Paige is the dreamer part of my personality.
So, not only secret agents want to remain anonymous in this world, but writers do as well. There are some parts of this country who make you register pen names, which defeats the purpose. But I've also known different authors who have been harassed because of their writing, wondering if they've written their sex scenes because they have no life or sleep around, or trying to scam an author out of money, just because their names are in the public eye. Not me. I'd rather become an anonymous multiple personality, with each of my names representing part of who I am. That way, I can go to the grocery store without a care and roll my eyes at my teenagers without worrying that someone, somewhere, will sell the thought to the tabloids if I become famous. And that's also why you'll never see my picture with any of my pen names…I can't be more than one person at once.
Do you have a pen name, or would you like to become someone else?
Paige (www.paigeryter.com, also www.andiealexander.com)