What’s in a name? Mindy Klasky discusses author identity

As a mid-career author who writes for both children and adults, I’m always interested in how other people juggle that identity split. So I’m delighted to have Mindy Klasky, the author of some of my favourite light paranormals, to share her thoughts about just that.

Mindy writes:

I was sitting in my new editor’s office. Meetings like that are always a bit fraught, so I’d worried about what to wear, I’d brought a box of chocolates to break the ice, and I’d practiced all my answers to the questions I most expected to be asked. We’d gotten off on the right foot because I’d already read about half of the books in my editor’s office – bright-covered board books for little kids, thought-provoking chapter books for middle grade readers.

About five minutes in, my editor asked, “What’s your most recent published book?”

I answered, “The Mogul’s Maybe Marriage. It’s a category romance about an arrogant pharmaceutical magnate and the woman he impregnates after a one-night stand.”

Without missing a beat, my editor asked, “Have you chosen your pseudonym for us yet?”

I hadn’t, of course. I’d hoped that I could keep writing as Mindy Klasky, the same way I’d used my name for traditional fantasy and for light paranormal and for category romance. But when kids are involved, the rules shift a bit.

Because kids were involved, I became “Morgan Keyes” for my middle grade novels.

Now, a few years down the road, I’m still juggling names. “Morgan” continues to write the Darkbeast books – they’re traditional fantasy for kids, set in a secondary world, looking at the moral and ethical issues in a society where children are raised to murder their animal companions in order to assume a role as an adult in their society.

And Mindy is writing the Diamond Brides Series, contemporary romance novels about players on the (imaginary) Raleigh Rockets baseball team and the women who love them. These short novels are hot. Really hot. Hot as in, my father read an advance copy of Perfect Pitch (in stores for the first time this week!) and thanked me for giving him advance notice so he could call our family lawyer and change his last name.

I think he was just kidding. I hope.

Some people erect huge walls between their pseudonyms. They create corporations to hide their identities; they manage all promotion and social media through vast screens, so that no one ever has any clue as to the authors’ true selves. Writers have even threatened litigation against people who reveal those links (J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith, anyone?)

Other pseudonyms are absolutely “open books”, if you’ll pardon the pun. Anyone who searches a second can find out that Nora Roberts is also J.D. Robb. Steven King has reissued his Richard Bachman books, with both names on the cover.

Me, I’ve walked a middle road. On my Morgan Keyes website, I never mention that I’m Mindy Klasky. The entire goal of my pen name is to keep impressionable young minds from finding my racier books quite so easily (even though some of my more mature young readers would easily grasp some of my adult books, such as The Glasswrights Series. Sometimes, authors need to work with blunt instruments instead of fine scalpels!)

Even on my Mindy Klasky website, I don’t list Morgan Keyes’ name directly. I understand the power of the almighty search engine, and I know that any kid who types “Morgan Keyes” into Google would find my far-more-visited Mindy Klasky website on the first page of results, if I made that link explicit. I vastly prefer for searchers to find at least one full page of “Morgan Keyes” results, unsullied by my adult-author name.

But when Morgan releases a book, Mindy talks about it. Heck (or rather, “hell” – I’m writing this as Mindy), when Mindy releases a book, she sometimes talks about Morgan – this blog post being but one example.

It’s not a perfect divide. Some kids might find out more than they expected to know. But I trust kids to be like I was – inquisitive, daring, and a little self-protective. If I’d discovered Perfect Pitch when I was ten years old, I likely would have passed right over it. I wasn’t interested in boys, much less in naked men’s torsos on book covers. I definitely wasn’t intrigued by romantic banter. And while I understood the mechanics of how my body worked, I didn’t understand why anyone would want to read about that stuff, not when there were exciting books about adventures, and quests, and prophecies to fulfill.

How about you? Do you remember the first book you read with adult content? Were you old enough to understand it? Did you care? Did your parents care?

Thanks, Pamela, for letting me visit and discuss this topic with your readers!

Thank you, Mindy! As you can see from the cover of Perfect Pitch, it’s pretty clear what kind of books these are. (I’m not surprised your father blushed, Mindy! I wouldn’t dare let my parents read this.)

Klasky-PerfectPitch200x300 copy

My adult books weren’t quite as racy so I kept my name and used the universe of my fantasy books as the website for my adult books (castingstrilogy.com). But I have an urban fantasy series with publishers now where I’ll probably go the pseudonym route myself, for many of the same reasons.