For various reasons many writers find it necessary to have some or all of their works published under names other than their own. The reason might be gender. Many early female writers wrote under a manlier sounding name or just used initials, letting readers assume it was written by a man. The Brontes wrote under different names to both conceal their gender and to shield themselves from their neighbors and friends who were many times depicted as characters in their novels. Ellery Queen was a pen name for four collaborating authors. Mathematician, Charles Dodgson wrote fantasy as Lewis Carroll using his given name on his more serious tomes. Many well-known authors wrote porn under various names to pay the bills while waiting to get their “literature” published. Some, prolific wordsmiths use many pseudonyms depending on the genre of their work. Some publishers insist on pseudonyms for their various “house” series with numerous contributors writing as one.
Most of you know that we did some of our writing under an assortment of pseudonyms such as Axel Kilgore and Jack Hillock. Axel, of course, wrote THEY CALL ME the MERCENARY series for Zebra books between 1980 and 1984. At the time it seemed prudent to keep that series and THE SURVIVALIST series in separate corners of the bookstore racks. John Rourke and Hank Frost were both heroic men but in totally different ways. We kept Rourke’s character so “straight arrow” that most of the time he was totally without a sense of humor. He wouldn’t know a joke if he tripped over it; not that Rourke would ever allow himself to trip. Hank on the other hand saw humor in everything even if it was while facing a firing squad or explaining how he had lost his eye. Anyway, it helped us keep John Rourke in the character we chose for him if we could blame Axel for all the stupid, fun stuff in the mercenary series. Of course there was plenty of blood and gore, much more than in The SURVIVALIST.
Jack Hillock wrote a lot of gun and second amendment articles for certain magazines when Jerry was on the masthead of another. This happened frequently in the mid to late 70s. Jack was able to say things that might have been at that time, not politically correct for Jerry to discuss. It was also a good way to start getting fiction looked at by publishers since Jack would get the rejection letter and not Jerry.
We also shared a pseudonym with many other writers over the years. We did two Nick Carter-Killmaster books in the early 80s. There were more than 260 books published between 1964 and 1990 in the series. Nick Carter always carried his Luger which was named Wilhelmina and his pearl handled stiletto, Hugo. Pierre, his poison gas bomb was positioned behind his scrotum ready to release its deadly gas with just a twist. A cross between James Bond and Derrick Flint, they were guilty pleasures to produce.
Jack “Doc” McDuff and Bob “Popcorn” Pruitt were characters we invented for the two books in the RODEO series under the pen name Red Mitchell. McDuff, is a bronco rider and a veterinarian; Pruitt, a Brahma bull rider. Both followed the modern rodeo circuit, with plenty of danger both in and outside the arena and the usual supply of pretty women in distress. Good with six guns and even better with a CAR-1, they travelled in style with Popcorn Pruitt behind the controls of their Beechcraft Baron airplane. They were both fun characters to explore. You had the tall, dark and handsome Doc McDuff who usually played the lead and then you had Popcorn, a big burley guy who came off like a country bumpkin but was actually a pretty smart guy.
I guess today pseudonyms are even more popular than ever. How many of you use fictitious names on Facebook or on eBay? Did this all start in elementary school when you had to sign your name for the substitute teacher? How many Jim Shoes were in your class?