We have come a long way from the time when Louisa May Alcott chose to publish her Gothic thrillers under the name A.M. Barnard, purely because the subject matter was considered ‘unladylike’ for a 19th century female writer. Female authors are still choosing male pseudonyms even today, but for somewhat different reasons: to enjoy anonymity, to try a new writing style, or experiment with a genre unlike the one they write under their well established names.
That said, according to Catherine Nichols’ article the gender bias is still a thing, even if it’s not as common as it used to be.
So let’s take a look at the ladies and their books I picked for this prompt.
Brightness Falls from the Air
by James Tiptree Jr.
The author: “James Tiptree, Jr.” was born Alice Bradley in Chicago in 1915. During World War II she enlisted in the Army and became the first American female photointelligence officer. In Germany after the war, she met and married her commanding officer, Huntington D. Sheldon. In the early 1950s, both Sheldons joined the then-new CIA.
At about this same time, Alli Sheldon started writing science fiction. She wrote four stories and sent them off to four different science fiction magazines. She did not want to publish under her real name, because of her CIA and academic ties, and she intended to use a new pseudonym for each group of stories until some sold.
An award in Tiptree’s name has celebrated science fiction that “expands and explores gender roles” for ten years now.
The book: In a set up which has been compared to a country house murder mystery, the novel tells the story of sixteen humans who gather on the isolated planet Damiem to witness the passage of a nova front from the Murdered Star: over the course of the book, the truth about the motives of these tourists, the destruction of the star and the reason for Damiem’s isolation are revealed.
Nightlife (Cal Leandros #1)
by Rob Thurman
The author: Robyn Thurman, writing under the name Rob Thurman, is a New York Times Best Selling American novelist, living in rural Indiana. She has written three series and two short stories, totaling 17 books, and has been published in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan.
Her Cal Leandros series and her Trickster series share the same universe, and are classified as urban fantasy. Her Korsak Brothers series is a sci-fi thriller.
Thurman did not reveal her gender initially, leaving the About the Author section ambiguous until the Deathwish novel in the Cal Leandros series in 2009.
The book: In New York, there’s a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side. Of course, most humans are oblivious to this, but Cal Leandros is only half-human. His father’s dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares-and he and his entire otherworldly race are after Cal.
He and his half-brother Niko have managed to stay a step ahead for three years, but now Cal’s dad has found them again. And Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they’ve always wanted him: He is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal’s life…
We Need to Talk About Kevin
by Lionel Shriver
The author: Lionel Shriver was born Margaret Ann Shriver on May 18, 1957, in Gastonia, North Carolina, to a deeply religious family (her father is a Presbyterian minister). At age 15, she informally changed her name from Margaret Ann to Lionel because she did not like the name she had been given, and as a tomboy felt that a conventionally male name fitted her better.
Her novels include the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and has now sold over a million copies worldwide. Earlier books include Double Fault, A Perfectly Good Family, and Checker and the Derailleurs.
The book: Eva never really wanted to be a mother and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.
City of Dark Magic (City of Dark Magic #1)
by Magnus Flyte
The author: Magnus Flyte is the male pseudonym used by writing duo Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch. As Magnus Flyte, they have written two novels, New York Times bestseller City of Dark Magic and City of Lost Dreams. The persona of Magnus Flyte is characterized by his obscurity and elusive nature regarding the public, as well as his conflicting biographical details.
Howrey is a former dancer with and she is the author of the novels The Cranes Dance and Blind Sight and lives in Los Angeles. Lynch is a television writer and former Milan correspondent for W Magazine.
Howrey and Lynch first met and became friends at a writers’ retreat. The idea to collaborate on a novel came while Howrey was visiting Lynch at her home near Sequoia National Park. The setting for City of Dark Magic was initially inspired by Lynch’s stepmother, who lives in Prague.
The book: Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.
Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.
The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)
by Robert Galbraith
The author: Joanne Rowling, writing under the pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist, screenwriter, and producer who is best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series. Rowling has lived a “rags to riches” life story, in which she progressed from living on state benefits to being the world’s first billionaire author. However, she lost her billionaire status from giving away much of her earnings to charity.
As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories, which she would usually then read to her sister.
The book: After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
Do you have any other recommendation for this prompt?