As a reader, I’m the type who will read just about anything. I read for entertainment, always have. As a kid, I’d read the cereal box at breakfast every morning (the newspaper was much too stodgy for me).
The more I read, the more I love discovering new voices. New perspectives on stories. Unique settings. Original twists. A fresh side to a beloved author. As a teenager, I followed Kathleen Woodiwiss as she moved from one rich historical setting to another—medieval England, the American Civil War, colonial America, Russia. Then I discovered Judith McNaught’s Regency-set historicals. I adored her stories! I never wanted to read anything but historicals. The pure escapism factor was so appealing.
Until one day, my mom handed me the latest McNaught book, Paradise. It was set in modern Chicago. Horrors! But, Mom assured me I would love it. (Note: Mom assured me once I would love acorn squash—that didn’t go so well for either of us, so I was skeptical.) Taking my life into my hands, I started to read…and discovered that I love contemporary romance. Who knew?
From there, Nora Roberts lead me all over the modern globe with her wonderful romantic trilogies and romantic suspense. When I discovered she also wrote as J.D. Robb, I had to explore her science fiction police procedurals. I’d never pegged myself as a fan of futuristic stories, but I love her characters.
I don’t count myself as a huge fan of paranormal, but I was intrigued by Tina St. John’s medievals with paranormal elements. When I learned that she’d moved to writing the urban fantasy Midnight Breed Series under the name Lara Adrian, that was enough to make me brave reading about vampires. The same world-building skills she used in her medievals, she applied to this new unique world. I was enthralled.
Note that McNaught changed from historical to contemporary, but kept her name the same on the book cover while Robb and Adrian took on new names with their new writing genres.
I’m surrounded by talented and prolific fellow-writers here on MM. Cynthia Eden writes dark romantic suspense and sexy paranormals, Misty Evans tempts the devil with her paranormals and then writes international intrigue. Karin Harlow writes paranormal, but we also know her as Karin Tabke, author of erotic romantic suspense and compelling, sexy medievals.
And there lies my dilemma. My first book is a romantic caper set in modern-day Las Vegas. My next book is a historical saga set in Georgian and Regency England. Now, as a reader, while it doesn’t bother me in the slightest to discover an author writes two different genres of story or two different tones or styles, I realize that other readers might feel they’ve been somehow cheated or misled.
I have to make a hard and fast decision here very soon: release my historical under my name or create an author pseudonym for my historicals. I will say that while the tone and style of writing are different, the underlying themes are very similar: the hero and heroine find love while also resolving family relationships.
What do you think? Should I publish two very different stories under the same name? Or, as a reader, do you prefer to know exactly what you’re getting from an author when you see that author’s name? Help!