Life as a Writer

Why I Decided Not to Use a Pseudonym (Even Though I’m a Girl)

I’m going to be straight up with you. I’m a girl. Female. Woman. However you want to say it. And I write a lot of fantasy. My main characters also are often (but not always) female.

But let me tell you what I’m not:

  • I’m not a romance writer.
  • I don’t have a girl-power agenda.
  • I’m not one of those writers whose female lead “isn’t like other girls” and is the classic tomboy, rebelling against all things female.
  • My characters have way more to think about than guys. Like saving the world.

I’m just a person who loves writing, loves characters, and just so happens to be female. I’m a person first. And, yeah, I’m a woman.

Historically, if you’re a woman trying to make it in crime novels, thrillers, adventures, or fantasy (unless it’s a romantic crime drama, or thriller, or whatever), you take on a male or gender-neutral pseudonym.

Because here’s the low-down. As a woman? I don’t care if the author is male, female, or narwhal. And my female friends are the same way. We have been all through our reading years. In fact, as teens, it was kind of a bragging point to read “guy” books.

But boys and teen guys? It’s seriously not cool to read a “girly” book. (Obviously this is not true of all guys. And the above is not true of all girls, I’m sure. But I’m speaking in generalities from my personal experience.)

So let’s recap: guy or gender-neutral name? 100% audience appeal. Girl name? 50%.

Then why wouldn’t I take a pseudonym?

–       It would get confusing. What do I use the pseudonym for? Just my novels? Novels and articles? What about journalism? What about social media, or finding me online?

–       I can’t think of one I love. I’ve experimented, but none feel like me. Also, A. M. Roat just doesn’t flow off the tongue. Or look pretty.

–       I like my name. It’s who I am. Besides, it’s an awesome pun. (Alyssa Wrote, anyone?)

–       I refuse to change who I am for the sake of sales. If you don’t like me for who I am, that’s unfortunate, but I don’t want you to only like a fake me. Then you don’t like me at all.

–       I won’t bend because of something I think is wrong. Gender should not define ability to write or appeal of story. As long as we keep pretending to be guys, we perpetuate the stereotype that only guys write “guy” books or “books for everybody.” There’s no such thing as a “guy” book or a “girl” book, except maybe those books that explicitly say “For Men” or “For Women” for very obvious reasons (if you know what I mean).

So that’s why. And my female characters are first people, second women. Their gender does not negate their human experience any more than Harry Potter’s or Percy Jackson’s genders negate their experience for me, a girl.

What? Does she think pseudonyms are wrong? No. Absolutely not. I love a good pseudonym that perfectly captures a writer, or sounds super cool, or helps out if you have a hard-to-pronounce name.

But I think it would be wrong for me. Because I would be taking a pseudonym out of fear. It wouldn’t be fun or daring. It would be me hiding because I’m afraid people won’t like who I am. And that’s not okay.

So female writers, keep slayin’ it. (Literally in fantasy. Because, you know, dragons. Heh heh heh…) Write what you want to write, whether romance or war novels.

And male writers, you too! If you want to write romance, we ladies need to shut up and let your writing speak for itself! I know guys who write romance under a pseudonym. That shouldn’t have to be the case.

It’s the 21st century. I write about battles. I’m a woman.

And my name is Alyssa Roat.

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