Hello hello my darlings! I cannot believe we’re nearing the end of June! Already! And… I’m going to be … older! However! The important person here today is Soren Summers! Yes! Another first time guest to ALBTALBS! So much fun and goodness this month! Everyone give Soren a warm welcome!
On Pride and Pen Names
When I was younger – much younger, way before I knew I could, or would ever write fiction – I wondered why people would ever want to hide behind a pseudonym. Isn’t your writing something to be universally proud of? The pen name, as it was, stood to me as a symbol of shame, even of cowardice.
Yet here I am today, struggling in my thirty-somethings to make a living off of pulling stories out of thin air and pressing them into little books that I fervently hope people will enjoy. And I do it all from behind the safety of a pseudonym. Initially I wanted to go with what I thought was the gayest pen name I could come up with: Apollo Summers. Interestingly, that alias had already been snatched up by a male entertainer based in Kentucky. Good for him.
I didn’t know any better as a boy, I suppose, about why someone would want, or need to use a pseudonym for the sake of privacy, or safety. Both apply to me, in some ways. I was born in a majority Muslim country, the kind of place that doesn’t take too kindly to its citizens being out and proud. That’s not the specific reason I go by Soren Summers, though. I’m just a tiny blip on the publishing map, and my books aren’t nearly dirty or “queer” enough to raise any real alarms.
No, the main reason I use a pseudonym is to protect the reputation my once politically active family still maintains. My immediate family more or less acknowledges that I’m gay, but certain members of it – most especially my father – either never talk about it or are in denial. Comments from some very keen readers have shown me that one of my characters, a prime antagonist, no less, could very well be a stand-in for my relationship with my father. I hadn’t expected to learn so much from reading my own work down the line, or indeed, to learn so much from the reader emails that I do get.
It’s painfully ironic to me that I’ve been living most of my life openly and happily as a gay man, yet the culmination of all my experiences as one, that is, my entire body of writing, has to be released under a pseudonym out of necessity. It’s a lot like going back into the closet, so much that I do occasionally feel pangs of resentment for the Soren persona, for the fact that I’m unable to completely be myself on a platform where the very essence of what I’m doing is self-expression.
I’ve certainly considered switching away from this pseudonym and starting over in a different genre. Yet I have no regrets about immersing myself in the pseudonym. I’ve learned the ins and outs of self-publishing. What once seemed impossible is now simple. I’ve learned much about writing, about fiction, but above all else, I’ve learned much about myself. None of the time I’ve invested in Soren has been wasted.
Perhaps some day when I am brave enough to write as myself I will test the waters, wade into a different pond. Even then Soren will always be here, waiting, a testament to all I’ve come to understand about fiction and publishing, but perhaps more importantly, a reminder that I assumed his identity out of love for my family, and for my father.
It’s what I tell myself, so I can remember that I did this not out of shame or fear, but out of respect and protection. Soren Summers may well be an assumed identity, a mask, but it is one that I wear with pride.
Bio: Soren Summers writes sci-fi romance with a twist of horror. So basically, boys, blood, and just a little bit of butt sex. The third book in his trilogy, Paragon, is now available for pre-order and will be published on July 17, 2017.
First of all, thank you for your honesty and openness, Soren. We’re so glad to have you visiting us today.
Soren is also very generously offering a giveaway – just click that link to enter. 🙂 What’s up for grabs? A copy of Monster! If the hyperlink doesn’t work you can copy and paste: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/7db5baa25d9ede90#ts-afo
Bloodied corridors. Mangled bodies. Deranged test subjects. Just another day at Vertex, a corporation devoted to perfecting humanity by any means necessary. It’s up to Jarod Samuels to keep the hallways pristine and safe, but scrubbing bloodstains and bagging bodies is losing its luster.
Then someone new joins his department, this man with a huge ego and an even huger mouth. Gabriel Anderson is infuriating but intriguing, as brash as he is beautiful, and almost enough to keep Jarod preoccupied. Almost.
But between workplace hazards, psychic sociopaths, and a mysterious formula that alters the human body, Jarod’s doubts are surging. Should he stay with the corporation, or run like hell? This is Vertex, after all, where the walls watch with glass eyes, the laboratories groan with secrets – and employee termination ends more than just careers.