June 3, 2014

Why the pen name?

I came across this article in the New Yorker on pen names and I felt it was worth a moment to explain why I use a pen name.

That's right. For those of you who might not be aware, Blair Richmond is not my real name.

First of all, why the name Blair Richmond?

I love the name. Names of funny things becuase you carry them around with you all your life and yet you never had a choice in the matter of selecting that name. You can change clothing, cities, spouses, homes, but your name remains. Unless you change it, which is what I decided to do..

I realize I'm dating myself but I remember watching the actor Blair Underwood on Law & Order and, well, I suppose the name just stuck with me over the years. And because the name Blair can comfortably be either male or female, it was a good fit for me. As for Richmond, that will remain a secret.

Now, why do I use a pen name?

I prefer anonymity.

I live in Southern Oregon. I frequent the town of Ashland -- the inspiration for Lithia -- as well as the hiking trails that snake up into the hills. And I like walking around these parts and not being seen as the author of Out of Breath or The Ghost Runner. People often look at authors differently, and will sometimes censor themselves for fear of finding themselves ending up in the author's next great title. Anonymity frees me from feeling like I have to write a certain way or for a certain audience. I know several people who would be quite surprised if they discovered that the person they knew also happened to write YA fiction.

Anonymity does have its drawbacks. These books are more or less out there in the world on their own. Promotion is a huge part of being an author -- and, apart from this infrequently updated blog, I'm about as lousy as promotion as one can be.

My publisher would certainly love me go on a speaking tour one of these days!

And maybe I will.

But for the near future I'm going to remain hidden behind a pen name.