In my post over at Write Anything this month, I talk about writing horror. Specifically, I talk about my conflicted feelings surrounding my horror writing. Chris Chartrand left a great comment about using a pen name to write Westerns, thereby to distinguish his work in that genre from his work in others.
Frankly, when it comes to writing fame, I'm a bit of an egotist. I've always looked forward to seeing banner headlines like "New Bestseller by Tony Noland" or "Tony Noland Signs Five Book Deal for $8,000,000". Seeing some other name in that slot just wouldn't be the same.
Or would it?
What if I were to use an "open" pen name? Instead of setting up a fictitious name and wearing it all the time, what about using it as an identified persona? Everybody would know it's me writing, but because the byline is different, it would be clear to my readers what to expect and what NOT to expect. That might clear up some of the reader confusion (and disappointment) that comes when readers approach my work, with all the different genres I cover.
If the byline says "Tony Noland", it will be a Tony Noland story (whatever that means). Could be sci fi, fantasy, lit fic, etc. Anything except horror.
On the other hand if the byline says (for example) "Valois Yafud", you'll know that Mr. Yafud writes horror and nothing but horror. If you like that kind of thing, you'll see the byline and keep reading. You might even seek out horror writing by Mr. Yafud, because you liked my horror stories. If you don't like my horror or any horror at all, you'll see the byline and skip it.
There wouldn't be any faking or confusion. It would be an open secret that "Valois Yafud" is really "Tony-Noland-writing-as-Valois-Yafud". Consider a story that opens with two kittens happily playing with a ball of yarn. If it's a Yafud story, you will have a clue about where the thing is likely going; if it's a Noland story, you may still be surprised, but you'll know that there is at least one direction it won't go.
There are certainly precedents for purposeful pen names and open secrets in writing.
What do you think? Is this something that would aid you as a reader, or is it an overly complicated solution? Is this the best way to handle the problem of writing in multiple genres?
===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.