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There are many reasons why authors may choose to write under a pseudonym; among them are personal safety, industry sexism, or just writing something in a different style or genre than what one is established in. Years ago, Meg Cabot wrote romance novels under multiple pseudonyms because she wrote for three different publishers and couldn’t be seen as competing with herself for readers.
A well-known pseudonym who has been discovered was Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman. A bookstore clerk noticed similarities between the works of King and Bachman and located the publisher’s records at the Library of Congress, a document of which identified King as the author. King had wanted to know if his career had been motivated by “talent versus luck”. King later announced that Bachmann died of “pseudonym cancer.”
These mysterious authors run the gamut from literary fiction to, well, whatever “My Immortal” is. They largely avoid the media, and their work occupies an interesting place in literary history as well as, in a few cases, Internet history.
At the height of “Ferrante Fever” in 2016, there was a bunch of theories as to who Ferrante was and, more specifically, whether Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym for a male writer (there is another school of thought that says Elena Ferrante is “really” an Italian translator). But do we need the identity of the author? It doesn’t matter who created a work of art if that work speaks to us? For some people this matters because Ferrante’s subject in Neapolitan novels is the lives of women.
Anonymous (Author of the Bourbon Kid series)
The author of this horror / thriller series has always remained anonymous. He claimed that he could not find a publisher because he would not give them his name and also because the books did not correspond to any particular genre. The unnamed book was published online in 2006. The series has since found a publisher and is available in print and electronic form.
John twelve hawks
Author of the Fourth Realm Trilogy, Spark and Against Authority, Twelve Hawks chose his pseudonym because the “old man” didn’t write his books. He said in an interview that his family does not know his identity and that he is considered a “failure by American standards of success”. In the same interview, he said that “Focusing on the life of a writer undermines the power of that writer’s ideas.”
Author of “My Immortal”
Loosely (and I mean loosely) based on the adventures of a certain wizard boy and his friends, “My Immortal” is arguably one of the most famous fan fiction pieces ever written and can be found in several places. online even after the original version disappeared from fanfiction.net. It has inspired many late night drama readings and more than a comprehensive web series. There has been a long debate over the years as to whether or not this was a work of satire or “trollfic”. Tara Gilesbie (or XXXbloodyrists666XXX) and her co-author have never been identified. There are entire Reddit communities dedicated to analyzing “My Immortal,” its writing, and mythology. An alleged perpetrator came forward in 2017 and a brief was in the works, but some inconsistencies were revealed in that person’s story and the book was shelved.
Dr Chuck Tingle
Hugo-nominated author of erotic fiction featuring dinosaurs, monsters, and anthropomorphized concepts such as Twitch streams and fireworks, the real Chuck Tingle remains a mystery. The AMA Reddit made by Tingle’s “son” is definitely worth a read. Tingle claims to be born in a ghost town and has a degree in “holistic massage” from DeVry University (which does not offer such a degree). The Tingleverse has a unique place on the internet and Chuck Tingle, whoever he is, just wants to prove that “love is real”. Tingle recently released the straight horror novel.
Honestly, as much as I love a good literary mystery, wonder is part of the fun of any mystery. What do you think? Would you like really want to know? I do not think so.
Do you think you are quite familiar with known pseudonyms? Try this quiz to match the author to their pen name.