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Using Pen Names or Posing by Mickey J Corrigan

We invited author Mickey J Corrigan and she is sharing with us about using pen names. She also has a new book, Project XX

Mickey J. Corrigan lives in South Florida. Her novellas and novels have been released by publishers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Poetry chapbooks include The Art of Bars (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and Days' End (Main Street Rag, 2017). Project XX, a crime novel, was released in September by Salt Publishing in the UK.







Author websitewww.mickeyjcorrigan.com




A few months ago, Pen Center USA withdrew a book shortlisted for this year's Young Adult novel award. Stealing Indians tells the story of four teenage Indians in the 1950s, and was well received. However, the author has been accused of faking his Native American heritage. He insists he is Native Alaskan/Native American, but states he can no longer defend himself against social media. He blames the weaponization of the internet for ruining his reputation.
In 2015, a poem selected for the prestigious Best American Poetry annual collection was written under a Chinese pseudonym. The author, a middle-aged white man, explained that his poem had been rejected 40 times until he changed the author's name to Yi-Ten Chou. The New Yorker called this "Oriental profiteering."
Lately I've read quite a few accounts like these. Posing has become one method for struggling writers to capture the attention of a major publisher and, hopefully, an audience. However, pen names have been in use from the earliest days of fiction writing. Women typically adopted a nom de plume in order to sound male or gender neutral. For too long, this was the only way for a woman to get published—or find readers.
Women still change their names for publishing purposes. I selected a gender neutral pen name soon after I began publishing fiction. Why? To widen the potential audience. Research indicates that men prefer to read books written by men. Women do most of the book buying, but as writers we want to include as many readers as possible in our audience. Also, it's tough to find a publisher. If the author's name is female, this can automatically relegate her books to the "women's fiction" category.
In the not so distant past, pen names were used to disguise a Jewish heritage. Or non-white nationality. It was easier to get published if your name made you sound like a middle-aged, middle class white guy. Now middle-aged, middle class white men are using pen names.
I can see all sides of this issue. It's bad form to pose, and lying doesn't cut it. However, I can empathize with a creative person who creates a persona he or she believes will best serve the work. As struggling artists, we can feel like we would do anything to get a good publishing contract and an appreciative audience.

Well, almost anything.



Project XX 


In 2012, a deranged grad student dressed as the Joker shot and killed dozens of movie goers at a Batman film opening in Colorado. Gun violence is so out of control in America that it has become a cruel joke.
Unlike most of Mickey Corrigan's novels, Project XX made itself known to her at that time, demanding to be written. Usually she researches, prepares, then writes. In this case, she wrote first, then did the research on gun violence, female violent crime, and school/mass shootings.
Males are almost always the perpetrators of mass shootings. But females are fully capable of shocking acts of violence and, in the US, military-style weapons are as easy to access as a new hairstyle.



Publisher        Amazon       

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23 comments:

  1. This books look like it depicted reality.

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  2. Interesting piece here. I really don't like cultural appropriation through posing, but you're right, there's a long history of it in publishing (I can't help but thinking of the Bronte sisters). Definitely a good bit of food for thought!

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  3. You've got me thinking about this issue of identity and perception. Interesting post and definitely food for thought.

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    1. Thank you. I think about it a lot these days.

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  4. Sounds like this is a good read for me. There is so much violence all over the place. All around the world. It's a shame.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  5. What a messed up world. ~sigh~ Best wishes.

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  6. Strange how this issue has evolved but never gone away.

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    1. Yes, and now it's probably more common for writers to create an avatar. But it's probably easier to get outted as well.

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  7. Wow - hadn't heard about those issues! I've used a pen name because I write romance and teach in an elementary school but I've never pretended to be anyone but myself (if that makes sense!) :)

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    1. It does make sense. There's a difference between a pen name and a false identity. Good luck with your writing!

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  8. Very thought provoking. While I knew that many women used male names in order to get publishes/read, I hadn't really thought about pen names in terms of instances of cultural misappropriation before. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. I write under my own name, but I can see how choosing a pen name could become dangerous in this particular time when we're so divided and sensitive about every nuance.

    Hi, Kelly!

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    1. Absolutely. good luck with your writing!

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  10. Hi Mickey and Nas ... interesting topic - I can see the logic in selecting 'Mickey' - sensible name to broaden your appeal. The subject is just a sad indictment to today - long may we move across to being helpful etc and improving this world ... not making life difficult for many - cheers Hilary

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  11. Interesting reasons to use pen names. I had never thought that one of the reasons was to avoid being identified as Jewish. That's sad!

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    1. Yes, a lot of actors and people in public positions changed their names too.

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  12. I have a pen name and mostly did it to stay anonymous and to use my name to fit the genres I was writing as a way of branding. O never thought someone would use s pen name to lie, though I do understand why a woman would choose a gender neutral name.

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