Once upon a time, I wrote a detective novel. People told me it was very good. Enough so that I truly believed I was going to be the next Dennis Lehane. (For the unitiated, the guy who wrote Mystic River, which to me was the finest crime novel of its day.) I decided that success could have a downside. I’d get hassled in Kroger while picking up milk. So I adopted the name Jim Winter. With this name, I would protect my privacy while skyrocketing to fame and fortune.
Go ahead. Ask me how well that worked out.
None the less, as I networked more and more, I used the name as my real name and came to the conclusion that I had trapped myself. There were well-known and influential people who only knew me as Jim. How would they react when they learned the truth?
Wasn’t that big a deal. In fact, half of them already knew and didn’t care.
As I made the decision to write science fiction, I also decided to use my real name. At the time, I would blog as Jim Winter about how the Dick Bachman to my Steve King was writing a science fiction novel. Or, my Dick was writing a novel. (Har! Har! Har!) Of course, Jim was the Bachman to my King, but since there was some brand equity in the Jim Winter name, that would be hard to sell. At one point, I was led to believe (with healthy skepticism) that I would finally get an agent and a sale with the last Jim Winter novel I’d written. TS Hottle would continue as independent, self-published author. But the agent deal fell through, and so I hung it up as a crime writer. One person I knew was more upset about it than I was, telling me I was too impatient. Hey, I gave it fifteen years. Impatient? I don’t think I’d live long enough for that definition of patience.
Of course, starting over again in my forties means I have to go all the way back to the end of the line. I’m reviving the Jim Winter name to finish the series that will begin with Holland Bay. But it won’t be my main focus. It’s hard enough being one person, let alone two.