You may have noticed that I’ve chosen to put F.M. Anderson on my book when I publish it. I wanted to talk a little about about why I made that choice, because there are a number of benefits that I see.
First, I figure that would keep people guessing as to my gender-if they don’t know who I am already. Some people out there prefer to read a book written by someone of a similar gender. I’m not looking to trick these people, but am also not looking to push them away because of some preconception. I am hoping this book will appeal to people of all genders. It is not a boy story, although it is a story that circles around a boy. This book is about loss and moving on. That isn’t something that is defined around what sex you are. I see it as a universal experience that we all treat differently.
Susan Eloise Hinton decided to go by S.E. Hinton. She’s the author of The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. Or, at the very least someone convinced her to list her name that way. I know that finding out the author was a female changed my perception of the book. It was also very helpful when I had middle school students talking about sections of the book that they thought were ‘gay’. We had a good conversation about word choice, author craft, and why one person might think it is fine to write one boy calling another ‘beautiful’ and what Ponyboy might have meant by saying that he ‘wasn’t really that into girls”. When I asked them why the author might have done that, the student I called on called the author a ‘he’. I asked him how he knew the author was a ‘he’ and if he had bothered to read the ‘About the Author” section in the back of the book. Of course, the student hadn’t, and many of them seemed surprised to find that the author was a girl. They had just assumed it was a ‘he’ that had written the book, since it was about boys. I actually think the fact that she was sixteen with the book was published should probably impact how you see that novel, rather than through the window of gender.
Secondly, besides all the gender issues, is that you don’t really see a whole lot of Franks as artists.
Sure, there’s Frank Durabont- the director of Shawshank Redemption and the man who brought The Walking Dead to TV in such stunning fashion. I know you are probably screaming FRANK SINATRA at the computer screen right now, but there is a problem with that association. You see, Sinatra defines the name Frank do much that hearing the name Frank instantly brings him to mind.
It’s kinda like being named Elvis. Sure, there ‘s also Elvis Costello, but otherwise if you hear the name Elvis, you instantly think of ‘The King’… Or a really fat guy wearing a rhinestoned pair of tights dying of a heart attack on a toilet while eating a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Elvis has left the building.
Of course, Frank also brings to mind Anne Frank, which probably makes anyone who has that association sad. But, hey, I can also throw Frank Oz out there for all you Muppet or Star Wars fans!
Most of the time when I have seen a character named Frank on movies and TV they are a big, fat, bearded cop- who most of the time ends up being corrupt.
Let’s face it- my obsession over the name I use goes back to growing up with my given name- Francis. It’s the kind of name that makes you hate the first day of school. You know they are going to call you by your real name at least once every class when they take roll. After that, things get better. You tell them to call you ‘Frank’ and move on with your life. You always see a few people look back or laugh, but it got easier… after about the eighth grade.
I’ve come to realize that there are tons of wonderful things to having a name that isn’t exactly average. First, you can be pretty sure that no one else in the room is going to have your name. It’s not like the name ‘Chris’ or ‘Emily’. Every room seems to have a ‘Chris’ or ‘Emily’.
No offense to anyone intended there!
Of course, I won’t be the first Frank to be an author. L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of OZ so many years ago (What is it with the association with the name ‘Frank’ and Oz?). But, of course, he does have the L. before the Frank. Locally, Dorthea Benton Frank has a ton of popularity with her Southern-set beach reads. Her ‘Frank’ is a last name, though… So she doesn’t count.
I will be writing YA lit, so some young ‘Frank’ might feasibly see my name as their first proof that Franks can be more than fat cops on TV shows. That could be kind of inspiring.
I don’t know if my book will ever get published beyond being self published as an eBook, but I do know that I probably will be publishing it under the name F.M. Anderson. I took years for me to take ownership of my name. Even though my confidence in it can be shaken at times, it’s the one I was given and the one I have grown to love. Why? Because Frank also means honest. That is a character trait I value about all others. But, the biggest reason I will published under the name F.M.Anderson, rather than Frank Anderson?
Because it just sounds good.