I’m amazed at how many times, when someone learns I’m a published writer, I’m asked if I use a pseudonym. The exchange usually goes like this:
“No, I use my real name. Why?”
A lot of people use pseudonyms. I’d think you wouldn’t want people to know you use your real name.”
“I don’t know. Maybe you’d write something a reader wouldn’t like.”
The exchange usually ends there, with some vague notion that the safer bet would be to use a name other than your real one. To tell the truth, I’m still perplexed over this issue, particularly since most of my writing is fiction, with the usual disclaimer on a front page stating that any resemblance to real life situations or characters is purely coincidental.
The supposed person in the exchange above may be partly right: I do provoke occasionally with what I write, and that may upset a reader. I don’t try to excise controversy in what I write; I just write what the story and characters give me. There is occasional editorializing, true, but once again, it’s all in the greater context of what’s being written.
Take for instance my collection of stories to be published this week: Collateral Damage and Stories.This collection trifles in ways that can upset readers subjects such as murder, ritual suicide, physical deformation, fatal disease, and insanity. These stories came to me in random ways (I like to say my muse sits on my shoulder whispering ideas and storylines), and none were written with this particular collection in mind. It’s perhaps a string of decisions made in my personal connection to the collective unconscious that created this collection.
But w hy such distasteful subjects? It’s probably an effort to bring aspects of human darkness to the surface where they can live and die in the bright light of story. Whatever the source, whatever the reason for the writing, asa writer, I have to be true, even to these senses of darkness. Otherwise I’d be writing pap, and that wouldn’t be fulfilling my obligation to my readers.