Saturday, March 10, 2007

Identity Crisis


Lorraine Bartlett (Guest Blogger)

Who am I today? Most of the time I'm me, Lorraine. (Sweet Lorraine, actually. Yes, named for the Nat King Cole hit. Does that out my age, or what?) But I've also got two other identities.

My first novel, Murder On The Mind, was published under the name L.L. Bartlett. My protagonist is a man, and my (then) agent felt it would be better to disguise my gender so that men might be enticed to pick up the book and read it. Hiding gender isn’t so easy when your publisher says "give us a bio." If you're writing short, it works. (“L.L. Bartlett has done it all from typing scripts in Hollywood to drilling holes for NASA and writes a life of crime in Western New York.”) It gets sticky when you have to add more details. How can you disguise gender when you need a pronoun? ("S/he's married and lives with four nutty cats.")

(Yes, I really did drill holes for NASA, subcontracted through a local machine shop, and my cats are absolutely nuts. Or maybe it's us: after all, they trained US to feed them on demand.)

Now I've got a contract to write cozy mysteries. The cozies are a lot different from my L.L. Bartlett books, which could be classified psychological suspense, amateur sleuth, or paranormal thrillers, take your pick. So I'll be writing the cozies under a pseudonym: Lorna Barrett.

Although the first book in that series won't be out for another year (actually, 13 months), it behooves me to get the name out there. But what do I say about Lorna? My publisher has no problem with me saying: Lorraine Bartlett, writing as Lorna Barrett ... but who the heck knows who Lorraine is? My readers know me as L.L. Bartlett.

Do I concoct a fake history for Lorna? How about: she graduated, with honors, from Stanford and recently cured an obscure form of cancer while piloting the shuttle to the International Space Station? And she'll be a mere 21 when her first book is published in April 2008. (That is if they don't change the pub date...again.)

I've given Lorna a MySpace page and have mentioned her "alter ego" (L.L.) but I haven't filled in much concerning her personality and interests. I've also bought a domain name for her, but haven't done anything with that yet, either.

Who is this woman? Is she a part of me? Does she like martinis and flaming finale spices on her popcorn, too? Or does she sit and eat Lorna Doones simply because she was named after the cookie? When I do book signings will I have to pretend to be her, or do I bill myself like the guy on Hawaii Five-O: "Zulu as Kono?" (Did I mention I was in the womb when H-50 was originally on the tube?) Maybe I should get a blonde wig. (They do say blondes have more fun.)

Meanwhile, it's Lorraine who gets to do the laundry, clean the toilet and, oh yes, do all that writing for L.L. and Lorna.

Lorraine Bartlett will see two of her books published next year: Murder Is Binding under the Lorna Barrett nom de plume and Dead In Red, under her L.L. Bartlett moniker. You can check out all her personalities at www.LorraineBartlett.com.

2 comments:

Deb Baker said...

What a fascinating question? Alas, I have no answers. Camille Minichino will have a new series out next year under the name Margaret Grave. And Monica Ferris, aka Mary Pulver, etc. has used several different names without changing her persona.
YOu can be anything you want to be!

Lorraine Bartlett said...

If I can be anything I want--I want to be RICH! I have a very leaky roof!