Thursday, December 02, 2010
More on the elusive Alix Bosco
Following my report on the presentation of the Ngaio Marsh Award in Christchurch on Tuesday evening and the disappointment at the absence of the winning author I asked Alix Bosco's publisher and literary agent to comment on the speculation as to the true identity of their pseudonymous writer.
Publisher Geoff Walker at Penguin declined but literary agent Michael Gifkins made the following statement to The Bookman:
I represent a number of pseudonymous authors, most notably the Australian (and internationally acclaimed) Torsten Krol - author of The Dolphin People, Callisto, and the soon to be published The Secret Book of Sacred Things.
Literary editors tend to become frustrated to the point of incoherence - the literary editor of a major Australian daily harangued me almost an hour, impressing upon me that I had a 'duty' to disclose to 'her readers' the physical identity of Torsten Krol. Such public spiritedness could only be admired.
Writing under a pseudonym has never been my idea of a good ploy, and at the outset has always been thoroughly discussed with the author who proposes it, and the publisher to whom I sell the book/s. I have to say that the reasons for preserving the author's 'true' identity seem to me compelling - though very different in each case. My primary duty (as all agents will state) is to the authors I represent; with a second, and quite possibly equal, duty to the publishers who undertake to support their careers. It's never easy, but then nor is it up to me to break any confidences placed in me.
Thank you Michael Gifkins for your full and useful response.
The Bookman wants to endorse the point that Gifkins makes that the practice of writing under a pseudonym is widespread. It is often done where a writer writes in different fiction genres and doesn't want his/her followers of one genre to become confused when books in a different genre are published.
Sometimes the information is revealed, an example that springs to mind is Ruth Rendell who also writes under the name of Barbara Vine.
But normally the information remains confidential and I expect we would all be surprised if we knew who the people were behind some author names.
Problems only arise normally where an author wins an award, as in the case of this latest happening in New Zealand, and then of course is not present to accept the award, be interviewed etc. But it is all perfectly kosher unless award rules do not allow for such situations and while those present in Christchurch were disappointed, and there definitely was a significant anticlimactic feeling among the hundred plus punters present, there is nothing that can be done about it. A panel of seven judges, three from NZ and four from the UK and US made their choice on the basis of their reading of all the entries without any consideration as to the identity of the author.
See also my earlier post - Who the hell is Alix Bosco?