I've always really liked the fact that ANYONE can be a writer - the work stands or falls on its own. And, I’ve always liked the idea of having a pseudonym - but have usually been persuaded out of it. 'But people won't know it was you…’ True, but using a pseudonym can be a great way of beating writer’s block.
As Ruth Symes I’ve recently been concentrating on my Bella Donna series - about a witchling who lives half in the magical and half in the regular world. Before the first one came out I did suggest I used a more magical sounding pseudonym for the books - Esmeralda Jones or The Purple Witch - but my publishers didn’t go for it.
When I wrote me my memoir ‘The Puppy that Came for Christmas’ under the pseudonym of Megan Rix my reason for writing it was so I never forgot the three wonderful puppies we had in a single year. But then one of my agents sold it to Penguin and they wanted the personal trauma we’d been going through written about too and a pseudonym started looking like a very good idea. There was an unbelievably short deadline to get the book out for Christmas and our real forever puppy, Traffy, became seriously ill and we were told we'd have to have her put down and I refused, and she recovered, and with all that going on it was a case of pseudonyms snoozeonyms - not a big deal either way in the scheme of things.
The name Megan Rix was only supposed to be used once (Rix is a family name of my husband’s - so he chose that) I didn't know Puffin would then commission me to write a children's book as Megan Rix - and now I have a double career as a children’s book writer and double the work (yikes - I’m typing as fast as I can!) If I didn't sleep or do any housework (hate housework) maybe I could do more...
Writing under two names means I need to do a lot more commissions to keep both careers going and as I mark off the time I have left to finish my next book a tiny part of me wishes I could have squeezed more TV writing in.
I'm writing this at 3-30 in the morning with Bella asleep on my feet, keeping them toasty, and a poorly Traffy beside me. (She doesn’t think she is poorly but has to have an op at 9.15 this morning so please wish her good thoughts if you can – they’re going to try to do a less major one first and if that works she’ll be home by Friday, if it doesn’t they’ll continue straight on to the more invasive op.)
One thing I know is whatever name I choose to use (and I don’t think Megan Rix will be my last) three things never change:
1. The pleasure I get when someone tells me they enjoyed my work – I’ve had some incredibly moving emails from adults and beautiful letters from children and will never forget watching a toddler ‘reading’ one of my picture books to his sibling whilst holding the book upside down.
2. Who I truly am.
3. The people and animals that I love.
(Thanks to Jan Burgess for the photo)
Ruth's latest book is Cat Magic (out in August) www.ruthsymes.com
Meg's latest book is The Great Escape www.meganrix.com