It is rare that an author decides to remain anonymous. This probably attracts speculation as to why an author would hide behind a pen name and not reveal biographical details about herself. In two famous cases of anonymous women writers, Belle de Jour and Elena Ferrante, their identities were finally revealed. So far, the people I have been in contact with through social media have found my case intriguing.
There can be, of course, various reasons why identity needs to be hidden. In my case, I am writing about a tricky subject that any decent person would not want to be associated with. Essentially, the protagonist, Maria, comes from a family of mafiosi women, although she was born and grew up in London. I fear that readers would associate the writer with Maria. This is also true for the other characters in the book. Someone connected to me might think that I have based a character on them and impugned them with crimes they never dreamt of.
Each one of us sees things differently. For example, I was actually an object of serious violence as a child. But the account of that could be seen as my being a naughty child, one who didn‘t obey, or simply wasn‘t the kind of child my parents wanted me to be. Hitting me into shape, from their point of view, would be for my own good. There are two sides to every coin, but I was always on the wrong side. Numerous other similar instances are found in the book, which I cannot go into here because of lack of space. Suffice it to say, that not only my mother but also her relatives and friends joined forces against me. I do not want to create more animosity. That is not the point of the book.
How do we separate truth from fiction? Obviously, a writer is influenced by her own life, personality and opinions, even if unconsciously. Readers could believe that made-up events are actually true when they have been invented to improve the plot. Just like in biographical films at times some features are exaggerated, while others are totally fabricated to make the story more interesting.
Anonymity also has its negative sides. If the book were to sell well, there would be no glory. But that‘s not the reason why I wrote the book. It was supposed to be cathartic, getting rid of my anger. However, it didn‘t work, my anger is still there. If readers don‘t know who the author is, how can they identify with her? I am part of a book club, and a lot of attention is given to who the author is. Where she‘s lived, what she‘s done with her life, how she came to be writing… Not having that information can stop readers from taking an interest in that particular writer‘s work, if they don‘t know her. The truth is that I would not have had the book published at all if it meant I would have to reveal my real identity.
My publisher has agreed to keep my identity confidential. Only two people there know who I am: the director and the editor. No literary agent was involved. If someone were to suspect I am the author of this book, I would deny it vehemently. So please don‘t ask. On the other hand, I am perfectly willing to correspond with anyone through Twitter or via email about my book and about my outlook and opinions.
Another negative side that maybe you wouldn‘t have thought of unless you are involved in a venture like this, is what do you tell the people around you? When you are busy writing, you don‘t have much time for anything else. Writing a book takes a tremendous amount of work, meaning that you are unavailable for whatever you used to do before. You have to cut out the time from somewhere. If you explain that you do not have time for this or that, they may want to know why you are so busy. To others, it seems I am not getting up to much at all. Doing nothing. And at times, when I am in the company of others I can seem distracted because I have so much going on in my brain – it‘s teeming over thinking about how to improve the book.
Your circle of family and friends are the first to buy your book or help spread the word. They are happy for you. But in my case, I will not have people congratulating me, I will not appear at events at bookshops, or have a launch with wine and nibbles. I will not be able to talk personally about my writing with anyone. As an author, I am, and will be, isolated.
Publishing a book under your own name and being open about it is by far the better alternative. Unless, of course, there is a reason for secrecy.
Follow her on Twitter @lindaloscuro
About The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter
As the daughter of Sicilian immigrants, in her teens Maria turns her back on her origins and fully embraces the English way of life. Notwithstanding her troubled and humble childhood in London, and backed up by her intelligence, beauty and sheer determination, she triumphantly works her way up to join the upper middle-class of British society. There she becomes a bastion of civility.
But a minor incident wakes up feelings of revenge in her like those lurking in Maria’s Sicilian origins. As she delves deeper into her mother’s family history a murky past unravels, drawing Maria more and more into a mire of vendetta.