I’ve been wondering: Why do authors write under different names? I know in the past authors used pseudonyms to hide their gender and identity. When Wuthering Heights was published, Emily Bronte used the male pseudonym Ellis Bell, and her sister Charlotte published Jane Eyre under the name Currer Bell. Initially they hid their identities to avoid their neighbors finding out they were in fact the inspiration for many of the characters in their books. Even Jane Austen’s name didn’t initially appear under the title of her book Sense and Sensibility. Instead the reader of the day only knew that “A Lady” had written what has now become a classic.
We’ve come a long way, and today, female authors don’t have to disguise their gender for fear of not being published, or hide their identity to avoid being ridiculed or questioned. Rather, today’s author uses multiple names; instead of pen names or pseudonyms. These multiple names are their alter egos and are used to create a distinction in writing styles. In fact some authors’ alter egos are so distinct it’s as if two completely different people are living inside one body. The good news is that for readers, the more names an author writes under, the more there is for us to love.
I think everyone knows that Nora Roberts also writes as J.D. Robb. While Nora writes single title books covering everything from contemporary romantic suspense to paranormal trilogies, J.D. Robb only writes one series, The In Death Series, which features a futuristic NYC police lieutenant and her billionaire husband. But there are so many other authors who are spreading their wings and giving us different facets of their writing personalities.
While Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb has become part of our lexicon, Colleen Gleason/Joss Ware has just recently become part of our collective consciousness. Writing historical paranormal romance under the name Colleen Gleason she has written The Gardella Vampire Chronicles Series. The Chronicles are a series of five books with a continuing story arc taking place in the 19th Century and featuring Victoria Gardella who picks up the family mantle of vampire hunter. I must admit, after she finished the series with the last book As Shadows Fade (Gardella Vampire Chronicles Series #5), I was sorry to leave Max, Sebastian, and Victoria behind—that was, until I found Joss Ware. Ms. Ware (aka Colleen Gleason) has jumped several centuries and is now writing a post-apocalyptic paranormal series called the The Envy Chronicles about five men known as the Awakening Heroes destined to save the world.
On further contemplation I realized there seems to be a trend with authors and their alter egos. I’m seeing a lot of authors who have one identity writing books that are set in the past, while the other identity writes books set in the future. A prime example of that is Jennifer Ashley who writes the historical Mackenzies series. Between The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie and the soon to be released (and by the way fantastic) Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, I’m hooked. But I found another series to love written by her alter ego Allyson James, the paranormal romance Stormwalker. Not only are the sub-genres completely different, historical vs. paranormal, but the writing styles are as different as night and day. The most obvious difference for me is that Stormwalker is written in the first person.
The more I researched (using my own keeper shelf) I realized Ms. James is not the only author who writes under different names to reflect the different time periods and sub-genres in romance. Some of you may be fans of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Legend of the Four Soldiers Series,yet this Georgian-era series couldn’t be more different from her alter ego Julia Harper’s contemporary romantic comedies Hot and For the Love of Pete .
One author who has not one but two alter egos is Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle/Amanda Quick who writes contemporary, paranormal, and historical romance. However Ms. Krentz/Castle/Quick has added just a bit more and with her Arcane series she is crossing alter egos and sub-genres using one story arc across all three different and separate identities, and she’s doing it in such a way that you don’t have to be a reader of all three of her alter egos. You have to admit, that's quite amazing!
So, dear reader, I must say, I find it fascinating that an author can write in distinctly different styles, sometimes poles apart, and using diverse and unusual world building for each style with characters that are singular and unique.
Right now I need your help because I’m on the hunt for more authors with alter egos. My questions for you are: What authors have I missed? Who are your favorite authors with alter egos? Do you automatically buy books from your favorite author’s alter ego? Are there authors that you read but don’t read their alter ego’s books?
Until next Monday, remember there's a book waiting to be read. - Marisa
Check out Melanie Murray at Romantic Reads—she’s giving a mid-term report card on the best book of 2010 so far. Join the discussion! (I’ve already posted what books I think are the best so far this year.)
Marisa O’Neill is an avid reader and television producer.