Faking It

This past week we had another case in mmlandia of an author who faked a gay male identity for years. This deception was perpetuated in interviews, he had a body double do a book signing, he blogged about being gaybashed, coming out, and even posted photographs in interviews of a guy that was supposedly him …

Over the years this author developed a reputation for insisting on the superiority of male authors in the M/M genre and disparaged female authors “for trying to “cash in” on gay romance.”

By now, many of us have read A.J. Llewellyn’s “apology.” Oddly enough, this blog post focused on his pain at being exposed by a fellow writer and avoided any real remorse. Stories have been circulating on the Internet for a while about AJ not being a gay male, so the dastardly deed of the big “reveal” could have been done before by any number of people. Though acknowledging he had been dishonest, he expressed only sorrow at discovery and complained of the distress it had caused him and, in particular, castigated the person who revealed the truth. With much wringing of hands, he confessed “reluctantly” that the stress of exposure had made him even consider suicide. His fans proved quick to forgive and rail against the person who had told the truth; other readers expressed shock, dismay and confusion at the tone in his blog post.

Could AJ not just have said in his post “I lied,” “mea culpa”, and expressed the hope his fans and colleagues would forgive his deception? He co-opted a gay man’s identity to give himself authority and his books authenticity as a writer in this genre. In retrospect, his insincerity and condescension are unbelievable. His fake identity became a kind of sexy Kevlar vest, winning attention and deflecting any criticism, and he regularly attacked reviewers and readers who dared to question his authority as a gay man.

Many female authors who write gay romances are honest, work hard at their craft, and they write wonderful books. We know that the majority of writers in this genre are women, and yet a percentage of female authors often feel compelled to use ambiguous pen names for reasons of marketing as well as privacy. Before anyone suggests that I’m bothered by authorial pseudonyms, I wrote a post a year ago about author pen names and I’m linking it here if you haven’t seen it. In that post my main point was that authors have every right to use pen names. At issue here is not AJ’s use of an alias, but the way he used it to mislead others behind the shield of a fake identity.

The toxic backlash this week arose from Llewellyn’s misrepresentation of identity and fabrication of life experiences. He lectured, scolded, and dismissed criticism of his work based on his “gay male” experience. One commenter on his “Coming Clean” post, Tina, said this much better than I could:

“I don’t care about your gender. What I do care about are the interviews and articles where you claimed to be a gay man. You spoke about life as a gay man, which you are not. You lied about life experience as a gay man, which you are not. You claimed to be a gay man and gave life experience about sexual exploits and coming out experience. You also said you were better than female authors writing m/m, because you were a gay male. You approached your fans, the public & specifically the GLBT community as a gay male. Even if you identify as male, you don’t have the gay male life experience you so publicly claimed to have. Let’s not minimize this. It is not just a case of lying about gender.

Another reader, Angela, had this to say about the post-confessional love fest on AJ’s blog:

It’s one big love-fest. Is there no one questioning the ‘real life’ instances of bullying you described. Bullying endured because you were supposedly a gay man? That’s one hell of a marketing tool. Just imagine all the gay men who read about your experiences and could empathise. And now it’s all a big fat lie. But then again, this blog post is all about your pain. Why think of others YOU might have hurt?

No one expects authors to use their real names but at least we expect them to respect the community they write about. So what if A.J. Llewellyn doesn’t have a penis?! News flash – half of the world population doesn’t have one either and we manage to survive without our very own dangly bits. This author has been writing in the M/M genre for about four and a half years so he has had to maintain this fake identity for at least that length of time; I’m sure the weight on his conscience must have been terrible.

This little scandal will die down soon and all will be forgiven, but it will leave a bad taste in the mouths of a few readers and fans of the author. Authors’ personal lives are their own business and no one gives a flying f**k what they do in real life, but it seems clear that AJ never intended to come clean that he is not, in fact, a gay man. The genre has been around long enough for female authors to recognize that fans accept that women can write M/M books that are as good as those written by gay men, with a few caveats. As Sean Kennedy and M. Jules Aedin said in a post on this site sometime ago:

….sometimes we aren’t portrayed realistically in GLBTQ books and media. Sometimes our lives are caricatured, or our struggles simplified or overlooked. Let’s be honest; it’s not all gay bashing and getting thrown out of our parents’ homes. There are subtler forms of homophobia and oppression that often don’t get portrayed in the genre, many of them from people who consider themselves to be helping.

It’s difficult to know the full extent of discrimination against disadvantaged and marginalized groups unless you live it and I have a deep appreciation for GBLTQ issues because I’m also a member of a minority. As Rick R. Reed said in an essay about Writing About Real Gay Men which I have linked –

As a gay man, I can tell you that I—or close friends—have personally wrestled with such issues as homophobia, HIV, drug abuse, promiscuity, job discrimination, hate crimes, the inability to marry the person we love, and many other things that occupy today’s headlines.

By pretending to be gay, AJ trivialized these real experiences so that his books could be viewed as being credible and authentic. He described coming out, being bashed, and wrestling with imaginary hardships; as a writer, that’s irresponsible, but as a human being it’s unconscionable and does a disservice to real GBLTQ persons struggling with these issues. AJ’s fans will forgive him for this deception because he is extremely popular and all will be well in his world, but neither he nor they seem to understand why this kind of deception has a greater impact or larger consequences than his bottom line. The saddest thing is the thought that younger fans may feel betrayed or misled. Bullying against gay teens is on the rise again, with more GBLTQ kids at risk for suicide every day. It is vital that they have authentic role models. Gay kids are kicked out of their homes regularly by their parents because of their sexual orientation and they try to find heroes in their larger community. When their heroes fail them that’s yet another blow they have to weather at a time when they can least sustain the shock.

I’m going to borrow from Sean Kennedy again. When he heard about AJ’s outing he posted a picture on Twitter of a couple of singers known as Milli Vanilli, who were faking it in Hollywood in the late 1980s and early 1990s and even won a Grammy for their debut album. Fans found out later they were models lip synching their vocals. At the time their producers admitted to hiring male models who could “front” the album for marketing purposes. AJ’s imaginary life as a gay man served much the same function: a slick, calculated, marketing package intended to deceive.

I think what most upset me about this whole debacle is how many authors and fans shrugged this deception off as if it were of no consequence. This is not about pen names – very few people online use their real names. This is about an author who deliberately for 4 1/2 years appropriated the suffering of a marginalized group of people to make money off them, to sidestep criticism, and to openly denigrate female writers, many of whom are now defending him. Lots of authors use ambiguous pseuds, but most of them do not pretend to be gay men.

Some of Llewellyn’s more vehement fans denounced anyone still expecting remorse. AJ and his supporters have used words like “witch hunt” and “lynch mob” and “revenge” to describe the dismay and confusion of disappointed voices within the community. Yet, revenge doesn’t start in a vacuum. A lynch mob acts without discussion or rational analysis, and witch hunts can only take place when an innocent person is accused of an imaginary wrong. His “pitchfork-carrying” detractors have presented more than sufficient evidence and analysis. AJ is not innocent and the wrong is real.

Much of the anger concentrates on AJ’s hypocrisy and his lack of regret. He doesn’t seem to grasp his own role in provoking people’s dismay and disgust. He gives the impression of being incapable of taking full responsibility for some rotten behaviour and doesn’t appear to be interested in making real amends, if such a thing were possible. The larger GBLTQ literary community has been slow to accept gay romance and this fallout will not do M/M any favours in that quarter.

Obviously things in M/M are changing and more revelations are sure to emerge…… Hopefully we can all learn from the past misdeeds of one author and the forgiveness offered by the community.

UPDATE

Out of respect for the trans* community I have changed the pronouns in this post to the masculine gender when referring to AJ Llewellyn.

116 comments

  • Wave thanks for this well-written and well thought out post. I completely agree with you. The issue for me isn’t that AJ is a woman. The issue for me isn’t that the use of a pseudonym created the impression AJ could be a man. I take very strong issue with the active deception of creating a fake Gay life. I hate when people lie and this case is a lie on a grand scale. After all, how much grander can you get than hiring a man to do your public appearances – the comparison to Milli Vanilli is very good.

    When I pick up a m/m romance by an author with initials for a first name, I just assume that the author is a woman but if the story is well written, the author (male or female) quickly disappears from view. After all, the book isn’t about the author. But in this case, AJ created a FAKE Gay male identity to beat back criticism and for personal gain. The lack of remorse over what was done, is incredible. Look up “sociopath” and you’ll find this is a very good example.

    I’ve never read any of her stuff. I guess nothing caught my attention. There are some authors who’s books I will buy without even knowing anything about the story because they are so good. AJ now has the distinction of being the first author who I will never buy not because of the quality of the writing but because of her deception of the public (and of herself).

    • Hi Jeffrey

      I take very strong issue with the active deception of creating a fake Gay life. I hate when people lie and this case is a lie on a grand scale. After all, how much grander can you get than hiring a man to do your public appearances – the comparison to Milli Vanilli is very good.

      If I were a gay man I would be even more pissed at the fake gay identity which was invented simply for profit. BTW I stole the Milli Vanilli comparison from Sean Kennedy. :)

      I guess integrity is not something that is inherent in some folks.

      But in this case, AJ created a FAKE Gay male identity to beat back criticism and for personal gain. The lack of remorse over what was done, is incredible.

      That’s what bothered me – the apology was all about her and what she had suffered but nothing about the people she might have hurt.

      There are many people, including some of AJ’s fellow authors, who see nothing wrong with what she’s done and I guess that’s their prerogative.

  • I don’t know AJ, nor read his work, so personally I’m not invested in this. But I’m profoundly bothered by equating “treachery and deceit” with someone who is clearly identifying himself as a transgender person. How many intersexed people are we as a group intimidating and shaming with that? A hell of a lot. I’m not claiming that AJ handled this well at all, but the bottom line in the criticism here is “He doesn’t have a penis! He’s a FRAUD!” which, wow, is that how we are reducing gender identity now? Really?

    AJ should have been honest about being transgender from the start, but then, let’s face it, with the kind of reaction he’s getting now, can we blame ANY transgender person for not wanting to admit that? How many transgender people have we shoved back into the closet with this misplaced smear campaign?

    Blast AJ for lying, absolutely, but let’s NOT blast someone for daring to cross gender lines.

    • Cooper

      I have no idea whether AJ is telling the truth about being transgendered. People who have met her doubt her claim but I don’t know if what she now says is true. It just seems convenient to bring it up at this time when she has been called out for lying about being gay.

      Natasha commented earlier in the post about AJ’s claim of being transgendered and here’s what she said:

      Wave,

      I must add, for those who will say that we are now picking on Transgendered people, AJ is not now or has ever been transgendered. I have confirmation from 5 reliable sources and by sources, these are people who have met her and or spoken to her.

      So your guess is as good as mine. Stay tuned.

  • Teddypig, I’m crying on the inside over the fact that you’ll never buy any of my books. Really.

    I don’t know how many times I have to state that my issue with this is not trans related. This is someone who has fabricated a gay male identity, and also created a fake gay romance with another author (who apparently also has faked their gay male identity), and you think there’s nothing wrong with that? This goes beyond pseudonyms, ffs.

  • Wave,
    I tried to post over at goodreads on both the YA site and the m/m site–both times I received emails full of fairly expressions of disregard for my opinion and in private emails of explicit hate. If I may:

    I do NOT agree or condone what AJ did.
    I have no opinion on the apology except to say that I’m still unsure how he/she is to craft an apology that EVERYONE can get on board with–that is not meant to be disrespectful–but there are a lot of voices crying out over this issue and they each have their own opinions as to how he/she should apologize.

    Lastly, I did feel that after a bit, the discussion degraded over at goodreads—it truly became a bit of a shit storm. Some of the cries from “Boycott the publisher” to insinuating that other authors—Josh Lanyon included were also lying began to surface. I remarked that this was denigrating into slander and vitriol. I received 3 emails telling me to (and yes I am quoting one of them) “Shut up bitch!”

    I do not hold any of the moderators responsible for those nasty emails BUT I was greatly relieved when the thread was closed.

    What I did receive Wave was emails from several authors who were uneasy and upset by the reactions–they were not CONDONING AJ’s behavior–rather they were appalled at the level of hateful discussion that the thread had been reduced to over the course of the discussion.
    Wave, thank you for letting me post this here–I simply felt that regardless of the evil done, we can still and SHOULD somehow react in a dignified and restrained manner. Telling someone you find their actions hurtful, denigrating to the gay population, and reprehensible is not the same as telling someone they are a lying bitch.

    Again, I am referring to the threads at goodreads not your post here. Just wanted to give you the perspective of someone who requested the conversation be stopped before the damage got out of control.

    Again, Wave–I have great respect for you and for this site–thanks for listening.

      • Jaime–forgive me–that reference was in one of the emails I received–I am sorry for declaring it was on the thread–thank your for correcting me.

    • Sammy
      I can assure you that you would not be treated in such a disrespectful manner here. First of all, no one here has your email address (only me) and I’m selling it as we speak. 😮 Kidding!!! Seriously, you won’t be getting any emails from any of the commenters here who agree/disagree with your position.

      I did go over to GR and joined the YA thread but left soon after because it became a free for all.

      What I did receive Wave was emails from several authors who were uneasy and upset by the reactions–they were not CONDONING AJ’s behavior–rather they were appalled at the level of hateful discussion that the thread had been reduced to over the course of the discussion.

      I hope that the discussion here is much more civil Sammy since I don’t allow commenters to insult each other. We can all be polite and state our position without becoming overbearing and rude.

      As you said earlier, it’s difficult to come up with an apology that would have satisfied everyone. What bothered me was that the apology started out all about AJ, very self serving, with what appeared to be no real understanding of what she had done and no real remorse. Then her fans told anyone who dared to write a dissenting comment to f**k off.

      As I said in the post, this will be a 5 day wonder and all will be forgiven except for the bad taste in some people’s mouths. AJ will probably come back bigger than ever.

      As you have probably gathered Sammy, on this site we talk about many contentious topics but I don’t think anyone has every called someone else a “lying bitch”. 😯

  • Hmmm…..I hadn’t heard about this!

    I don’t like to be deliberately lied to – and this sounds like it was deliberate by omission” and misdirection. :my2cents:

    If/when you’re *caught* in a lie, you admit it, apologize and try to fix it. Trying to shift blame is for children.

    Excellent article, Wave!

    • sfrizell

      Thanks.

      I wish that people would just own up to their mistakes and try to correct them or make amends, rather than continue offering excuses for repulsive behaviour.

      • > repulsive behaviour

        Sorry Wave, I didn’t want to comment even if I read your post since this whole thing has already derailed to a level that is worrying me. But don’t you think that “repulsive behaviour” is a little too much? and you say “I wish that people would just own up to their mistakes and try to correct them or make amends”

        well, you maybe have doubts on AJ’s sincerity on hir post, but zie at least tried (I hope I had it right with the pronoun, it’s even more difficult for me being Italian). You don’t feel zie is sincere in hir apology, fine, but don’t say zie didn’t.

        It’s a little scaring when the drama takes over like this, people tend to forget what was the starting point, and I fear someone can get hurt.

        BTW one of your point is

        > The saddest thing is the thought that younger fans may feel betrayed or misled

        do you really think gay teen readers were influenced by AJ’s books or blogs? With all the love I have for Gay Romance, and for all the Gay Romance publishers out there, I really doubt Aj is the target of young readers. I bet very few if no teenager has ever read AJ and while maybe they had read hir blog on your website, they didn’t know who AJ was and so I don’t think they feel betrayed at all.

        • Elisa.

          You said that kids are not influenced by what someone like AJ writes. There are two levels to this – her books and her posts about bullying and coming out. I would hazard a guess that kids are influenced by posts they read like everything else on the Internet. They can google “bullying” “coming out” “gay bashing” etc. like everyone else and when they find out that the person they thought was discriminated against, like they were, is just another liar they do feel betrayed.

          Her apology was all about AJ, sorry.

  • I really don’t know where to start here. I’ve been lurking (I really do hate that creepy term) for about a year and a half. I’m kinda computerly challenged. Something made me want to comment about all of this and I wish that something would just shut up. Anyhoo,I’m a black, straight, fifty-five year old woman married to the same man for thirty-six years ( I know,tmi). I’ve always preferred female writers when I used to read Star Trek novels and I’m usually able to tell the gender because of the emotionality of the writing. I’ve never read this author because I don’t read most paranormal things. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want my men to be women I’ve just always loved male bonding in my entertainment.I have five sisters and no brothers so how the heck this happened I don’t know. Anyway, back to the main topic, I love James Patterson’s Alex Cross series. I assumed he was black because the characters sounded so authentic and there was no picture of the dude on the book covers at the time. When I saw that he was white I was a little startled and thought wow. I would have been offended if he had put a picture of a black man on the cover and pretended to be that man and started bad mouthing white writers. I know this sounds dumb but oh well.

    • Hi Deedles

      Anyway, back to the main topic, I love James Patterson’s Alex Cross series. I assumed he was black because the characters sounded so authentic and there was no picture of the dude on the book covers at the time. When I saw that he was white I was a little startled and thought wow. I would have been offended if he had put a picture of a black man on the cover and pretended to be that man and started bad mouthing white writers. I know this sounds dumb but oh well.

      That is exactly what I’m talking about. This author had the good sense to show that although he wrote a book starring a black man he was not going to hide who he was be pretending to be black. That would have pissed me off royally.

      AJ went a different route and faked being a gay man for years to make his books appear to be more authentic than those written by female writers.

      Thanks for coming out of lurkdom and I hope you will comment again Deedles.

      You have been married to the same person for 36 years? WOW. 😯 Congratulations.

  • I’ve been following this on other sites for a while now.

    What I’m baffled about is the fact that even when people are told OVER AND OVER AGAIN that the issue isn’t about AJ’s use of a male pseudonym, but the fact that she lied about her private life, and used that false persona “to demean and browbeat her fellow female authors, as well as those who criticized her work” (to quote you, Wave), they still keep harping on about how it’s okay to use false names.

    YES!! We all agree that that’s okay. The rest is not okay. I don’t see how anyone can justify that at all.

    Are these people being deliberately obtuse? It’s so clear to me. I just cannot see how anyone can condone what this writer has done. 😕

    • “to demean and browbeat her fellow female authors, as well as those who criticized her work”

      That is not what is being played up here and elsewhere in this witch hunt they want her for lying to her readers like she owed them the truth about her private life and her sexuality.

      • I think IF WRITERS CHOOSE TO LET PEOPLE INTO THEIR PRIVATE LIVES (which of course they have no obligation to do) they do owe their readers the truth.

        Little white lies are okay in some circumstances. Elaborate lies perpetuated over years and years are a different matter altogether, imho.

    • Hi Gaye
      I don’t know how differently to word my comments that this is not about the use of a male pseudonym. Thank you for getting it on the first try. :)

  • I think this is the first time I’ve ever approved of anything you’ve written. Well done, and well done to commenters here who have kept their minds on the actual issues. It’s been hard to do that with so many smokescreens being thrown up.

    I would take issue with one thing – regardless of whether you believe Llewellyn is trans (and whether other people can ‘tell’ isn’t the issue since you can’t tell by looking what’s in someone’s heart), it’s more respectful to *other* trans people to take the claim at face value. Llewellyn has plenty to answer for – don’t give him the accusation of transphobia against his critics to hide behind.

  • As a gay man (really), I can’t say I’m particularly upset by this scandal. I can see points on both sides. But what disturbs me most is the contempt people seem to have for AJ’s assertion that he is trans. Since I don’t know him personally, I’m taking him at his word on this. I’ve had too many trans friends who have had to deal with being told they’re not really who they say they are, that I don’t feel comfortable saying that I “know” whether someone is trans or not. It’s up to them.

    • Well here’s thing for me Jamie….if she lied about being a gay man, she could be lying about being transgender too! Why would she not come out at the beginning of her writing career as transgender….a lot of readers of m/m romance are woman who are obviously accepting people if we read m/m in the first place.

      • “Why would she not come out at the beginning of her writing career as transgender’

        Why should he? I don’t need to know the gender or sexuality of any author. Coming out as trans, gay, whatever is a deeply personal decision. Llewellyn may not even have identified himself as trans at that point, but knew he had these feelings he couldn’t make sense of entirely.

        Demanding anyone ‘come out’ over their gender or sexuality is not something we as a community or individuals should do. It’s difficult when you suspect, as people did with Llewellyn, that a fast one is being pulled, but so long as an author isn’t outright lying by pretending they are a gay man when they identify in reality as a woman, ‘No comment’ is more than anyone deserves.

        But this is where the practice of using male names in a genre which writes about a disprivileged minority, really does become harmful in so many ways. It’s harmless if you’re writing het romance, or thrillers, or detective novels. It’s not harmless when you cloak yourself in a borrowed identity and that identity is one which struggles for its own voice to be heart at the best of times.

        • Ann, I don’t need to know gender/sexuality either…but AJ choose to tell everyone she was a gay man, if she would of said she was transgender(if she is)instead of lying then none of this shit would be happening.

          • Your point is exactly right, Jaime. What’s more, AJ made up “real life” stories about this supposed gay male author, and even admits to using an “avatar”–as she calls him–to represent her at a book signing.

            These seem to be facts that Teddypig and Ann Somerville can’t quite grasp.

    • Hi Jamie

      You’re absolutely correct that no one but the individual knows whether he or she is trans. This is what I said to Cooper when I passed on Natasha’s comment:

      I have no idea whether AJ is telling the truth about being transgendered. People who have met her doubt her claim but I don’t know if what she now says is true. It just seems convenient to bring it up at this time when she has been called out for lying about being gay.

  • I am not personally invested in this. I’ve never read any of AJ’s articles or stories, aside from the one written for the anthology this summer for GoodReads MMR group.

    I admit to posting on AJ’s blog before I found out what the “real” furor was about – the public persona and not the gender identity. What I said at the time was “The rest doesn’t matter.”

    I debated posting this. I debated taking that statement back. But after writing this post for more than an hour now, I’ve realized that I was right in the first place.

    We are each responsible for our own personal mental health. Every one of us.

    Think about that.

    Several have railed about the responsibility that AJ had to others for his public persona. What about others’ own responsibility for their investiture in his public persona? I agree that duplicity is irresponsible because we KNOW that others over the Internet will take us at our word for lack of evidence to the contrary. BUT, the rest of us should know to take such things with a grain of salt.

    I do NOT believe that AJ set out at the time to create this monstrosity of an issue. And it is human nature to want to protect ourselves. Hindsight 20/20 and all that.

    Do others feel duped? Sure. Do they have a right to demand an apology? No.

    Unless he’s a sociopath (and no, I don’t believe that), I’m sure there is not one of us who could be harder on AJ for his choices than he is on himself at this time. I sincerely doubt that he wouldn’t be remorseful if those choices resulted in someone else’s pain.

    AJ has made an apology on his blog. Some believe it insincere and wish to denounce it – that is their choice, though I find it distasteful for them to say so, particularly with any venom. If it bothers you so, step away from the situation entirely; divest yourself from it. That’s the best course of action.

  • I honestly hope this blog doesn’t turn into a Dear Author… Enough of this gossiping. If AJ’s stories are good (which I don’t know, I just never read any), they are still good stories, no matter what she does or what kind of a person she is. How many celebrities claim being bullied or sexually assaulted just to sell more books? it’s bad taste and yeah, trivialises real victims suffering, but so are witch hunting and outing people.

    And I still watch Roman Polanski’s films. It’s about their works.

  • Wave, thank you for this post. I read AJ’s apology post yesterday and just thought it sucked that (s)he would have been exposed that way. I admit to not being a fan, having only read one book I didn’t care for. Still, I was sympathetic to his/her situation. (I don’t have the slightest clue which pronoun to use here!)

    What changed my mind and disturbs me so greatly about the situation is to learn that this author denigrated women writers as being somehow inferior to the men, all while being a woman herself. And that is what I know you’re upset about. (Not the genderfuck, because, frankly, who cares? I know we share some absolute favorite characters [Ty & Zane, Matt & Jared, Jake & Tor, etc] who have been penned by women. And outing supposedly-male writers as female is tired in 2011.) In my mind, it is those deliberate and calculated attacks on the women writers for which the author should be held accountable. The rest is just distraction.

    I’m not sure how this will play out in the general scheme of things, but it doesn’t make me any more or less interested in buying AJ Llewellyn books than my one experience reading one did.

    • Hi Buda

      Thank you for commenting.

      Dissing your colleagues is surely a great way to make friends. However many authors are supporting Aj and I applaud them for doing that.

      I guess the bottom line is if someone was a fan of this author before this happened he/she will continue to be a fan.

      As for the pronoun, I have been using “she” and “her” but I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Wave, thank you for a clear, thoughtful, rational, well-written post. I feel you made it plain it was AJ’s actions you found reprehensible, not his/her gender or his/her pseudonym. I applaud both your courage and your restraint.

    • Thanks Kiracee. I’m glad I made it clear that I was talking about AJ’s actions not the fact that she used a pseud. Very few authors in this genre write under their own names and I consider that either courageous or foolhardy. :)

  • This has been a very interesting discussion to read. With a lot of good points being made. What ever people’s ultimate opinion, whether it is that it’s his/her buisness and nothing else matters, or that he/she put her/his self out their so it is and she/he has a responsibility to the greater community. Whether it should just be about the quality of the work or a personality contest, the bottum line is that in buisness people vote with there money whatever the critiria happens to be. People buy stuff all the time with motives whether concously or not that have nothing to do with the actual quality of the product that’s just the way it is. People get feelings about certain brands or publishers (or authors) and what those brands represent to people and why they buy or don’t buy them says more about them and their values and the underlying social currents then it does about those brands or wheather they are good brands or bad brands.
    there are a lot of different issues floating around in these discusions and how strongly you feel about them personaly would of course influence where you come down on the issue at large. Gay issues, Transgender issues, issues of privacy, issues of integrity, issues of exploitation, issues of vissibility. People will vote with there credit cards and we will get to see whether people really care or not based on the money.
    Me personally? Here’s where i fall, I give my whole hearted support to AJ in the search for a personal identity whatever it may be and i will let him/her know that in an appropriate way. Will I buy His/her books? No, the only tangible way i can disaprove of this type of marketing is to not reward it with my money.

    • Hi Charmed

      Very balanced response. As you said, there are many issues being discussed, some of which I didn’t expect.

      Your main point that people should vote with their wallets is an excellent one.

      I hope that AJ finds what s/he is looking for in terms of a personal identity.

      Thank you for commenting.

  • Wave, I agree 100% with kiracee.

    I have read the various threads about this controvsary and the main thing that disturbs me is the vitrolic response to people’s opinions, especially on the Goodreads threads.

    I don’t personally care wrote a story as long as it’s good and holds my attention. However, when I read non-fiction I expect it to be non-fiction, not fiction. If you use a pen name and use another gender, fine. I can get behind it. If you fabricate a life and downgrade others, I cannot get behind that and I’ll choose not to buy your books. End of problem.

    But I am very disturbed by the viciousness of some the opinions. State your opinion, like Wave did, but don’t bash others for their opinions.

  • The actions of this author were unprofessional and inappropriate. Thank you Wave for fighting for professional standards. Yes, Hollywood and Sports have already given up this fight too,with a “shrug shoulders” response.

    As a person concerned with Mental Health, I would like to say that speaking of suicide is not the response of a healthy stress response. Speaking of suicide thoughts is not to assume the deed. Whether a statement of depression or a method of attention seeking, it IS an indication of pain and a problematic behavioral response system.
    I hope he gets the objective support he needs to grow through this.

    I am one of those people who would prefer NOT to know the personal life of my entertainment. It is much easier for me to objectify their product that way. LOL Yeah, I would walk out and embarrass my family before I would watch a Roman Polanski film. I also Cheer LOUDLY when Ben Roethlisberger is intercepted. So I’m not perfect, but I can laugh at myself and have some drop of objectivity.

    • Hi Reggie

      Thanks for commenting.

      As a person concerned with Mental Health, I would like to say that speaking of suicide is not the response of a healthy stress response. Speaking of suicide thoughts is not to assume the deed. Whether a statement of depression or a method of attention seeking, it IS an indication of pain and a problematic behavioral response system.
      I hope he gets the objective support he needs to grow through this.

      I hope that she does too.

      You don’t like Roman Polanski? :)

  • Because I’ll be away for the weekend I will have to cut off the comments since I don’t want to return on Sunday and find 100 comments.

    I will try to respond to the comments that are here now.

    Thanks Guys for weighing in. I promise no posts from me for at least another 3 weeks.

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