I’ve been asking myself this question for a little while now. I chose my current pen name because it’s my maiden name. I’d wanted to publish a novel my entire life, and I felt like I owed my original identity that privilege. Of course, I didn’t think about the fact that most people see the V and all those ‘e’s and freak out about pronunciation.
For the record, I don’t care how it’s pronounced. (I do worry, though, that it’s off-putting to readers…but meh. It’s my name and I love it.)
I’m glad I went with my ‘real’ name in this situation. The books I’ve written are true to the girl who cut her teeth writing melodramatic fanfic. They’re true to the self-conscious young woman who wasn’t sure whether she’d ever have the confidence to push original characters out into the world. They’re true to the now older woman who, in becoming a parent, struggled with finding herself again.
But…I have a secret.
It’s not going to be my only nom de plume. In recent years, as a reader, I’ve gotten interested in other subgenres and now I’m starting to write them. This is content that doesn’t really gel with the brand I’m building off my maiden name. I’m not ashamed of it, despite the taboo involved, but I did think long and hard about whether I could -or even should- try and bring the two worlds together. In the end, I’m opting to keep the kinkier stuff separate. A.N. Verebes is all about sweet, steamy contemporary romance. If -or, rather, when– the other stuff is published, I’m going to start fresh with a new alter-ego.
I see pros and cons in both options here. On one hand, as A.N. Verebes, I’ve started building an audience. But it’s an audience who reads the sweet, mildly melodramatic stuff I love to write. To try and introduce some of the kinkier/darker/more taboo stuff here might backfire. I don’t love the idea of having to start from scratch, either, but I’d rather grow a new audience specifically for the completely different stuff I’m dipping my toes into.
Also, because of some of the content, I am going to use the anonymity to keep certain people (*cough* my parents and colleagues *cough*) in the dark. Trust me, it’s easier that way, haha. Besides, I do genuinely love the idea of having pen names dedicated to two very different types of writing. Nobody is going to expect A.N. Verebes to release anything dark and twisted, and that’s a good thing, because she doesn’t have any interest in trying to. But my alter ego? Yeah, she’s down for that.
It will be interesting to see how it goes. I’ve found it difficult to get this pen name up and running, but I’m slowly finding my groove on TikTok and with my newsletters. At least I know the sorts of things that don’t work for me, so I have a stronger footing to start with. I see this as a whole new experiment, so I’m sure I’ll be back with rambles about my progress!