Creative Writing

Female Writing Names

Before I dive into my thoughts concerning the subject of today’s post, I’d like to wish all a happy New Year and hope that 2014 brings good changes. For myself, I’ve made the resolution to take my work to the next level as far as peddling my manuscript to agents. From there the unknown lies before me.

So HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! (click on the circle of friends for a treat)


Now onto another thought I had that I was bursting to share, despite those post ideas still sitting on the back burner, including my review of The Desolation of Smaug.

Shortly before Christmas I was dallying in Barnes & Noble before going to work and I came across a book entitled Vicious, and admittedly I was drawn to it because the cover portrayed a man that bore a resemblance to a notoriously wicked character in anime, whose name also happens to be Vicious*.

So I picked up the book and read the synopsis, and was immediately drawn into the dark and wicked story of two intelligent friends turned enemies, connected by a bond of superpowers, a la Charles Xavier and Magneto.

But that’s not the point of today’s post. I might save that for a book review later, since I did in fact buy the book with my Christmas money. Today I’m considering the fact that I assumed the author, V. E. Schwab, was a man without even thinking of it. Through later reading up on the book, I found out that V. E. Schwab is in fact Victoria Schwab. After learning about this, I wondered if I should feel guilty about my error concerning Schwab’s gender.

Rather in the same way that J. K. Rowling used initials for get author name to disguise her gender so as to gain a male audience more easily for her Harry Potter books, it would seem that the same thing might’ve been done with Schwab’s name. Or maybe I’m again mistaken.

But perhaps I’m feeling guilty in my error concerning Schwab’s gender because I myself am female, and ought to have given something like this more thought before assuming. Or is it the result of something ingrained in me as much as most others? That even beyond the times of the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen, all who used false male names and/ or anonymous pseudonyms to hide their genders in order to have a hope of being published and read and even to be taken seriously, things like this still go on as a way for female writers to make headway in the publishing world.

Or maybe I’m overthinking this. But I am also curious to know what others think. That and it makes me consider what I’m going to do when I get published, if I’m going to take the same route and use a pseudonym to make my own gender ambiguous.

Maybe some things are too deeply carved into the bones of society to ever really change entirely. On the other hand, maybe I’m overblowing this. There are after all plenty of boys who read The Hunger Games with Suzanne Collins’ name very straightforward on the cover. On the other hand, the plot held a promise of violence and bloodshed so there inlaid the draw for a male audience. And there again is that business of J. K. Rowling using a male name for Cuckoo’s Calling.

At the same time though, there are plenty of female authors who do away with the male pseudonym idea and are entirely fine with that. I would imagine too that they still manage to maintain a kind of male audience, though I can’t say for sure. Obviously chick lit books are a kind of exception I’m sure, but other books? Who can say?

After all, one of the biggest badasses in anime is a guy with a female name. Go figure.

Until next time….

(Psst…his pic’s a treat to click on too)

clairevino* this character would be Vicious from Cowboy Bebop


3 thoughts on “Female Writing Names

  1. Hi there! I don’t normally comment on blogs but I stumbled across this and wanted to offer my personal two cents, as both the author in question and someone who would probably have made the same assumption.

    I can only speak to why *I* chose to use my initials, not the trend as a whole, but I used the pseudonym for two reasons.

    The first is that I have some pretty young readers as “Victoria Schwab” and will have even more of them soon as I have a middle grade series coming out with Scholastic Book Clubs and Fairs, and I didn’t want them stumbling across VICIOUS by accident. While it’s more than suitable for my older teen readers, the content isn’t child-friendly.

    The second does, admittedly have to do with gender. I don’t know if I’d be so willing/eager to use a gender-ambiguous pseudonym if I were writing adult literary, but adult genre fic, especially the superhero genre, is severely skewed toward male authors and male readers, and I couldn’t stand the thought of my book being discounted because of its author’s gender. I’d much rather misogynists read it, love it, and then have to deal with the identity of the creator. I must say that as much as their surprises bothers me (the surprise itself is inherently insulting) I also relish it.

    So there you go!

    1. Wow, awesome thanks for the response! I’ll admit that I didn’t consider the first reason, though I was aware that you have written for younger audiences, so that’s another good point as far as keeping them at a distance from the more mature content. I’d like to hope the skewing towards male authors and readers might change, but who knows? I know some would say as long as the material’s getting read at all. Anyway, I can’t wait to read Vicious, and thanks again for sharing!

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