Do they? Well, why wouldn’t they? They are most likely human beings like the rest of us, only using a name that isn’t the one they were born to. We know two names for a lot of writers, like Sam Clemens and Mark Twain. Sometimes a pseudonym is not a secret even at the time of writing, and sometimes ‘the truth’ becomes known later.
Some authors use different names for different ‘products.’ In fact, the book I am currently reading is by a pseudonym. I have difficulty remembering this name, because I once met the author under his real name, and that’s what he used to email me.
Michael Grant decided to use a pseudonym for his children’s books, because he had already done things under his real name, that he felt didn’t go well with young readers. But it’s no state secret that he is Michael Reynolds. (If he is. Maybe that one is another fake…)
Would you expect all pseudonyms to be kept off longlists and shortlists for book awards? Probably not. In fact, having someone you don’t know who they might be on your prize shortlist, could be quite exciting. What if he/she wins? Would they come to the ceremony?
They might. But it’s hard to come if you haven’t been invited. And you weren’t invited because you’re a pseudonym (and they practically don’t exist). It wasn’t that the organisers couldn’t find a way to contact you. (I presume publishers might have an inkling.) They just didn’t try.
It would have been possible, though. Because you only found out you’d been shortlisted when a young fan emailed you about it. Now, how did the fan manage that then? Even pseudonyms have websites and stuff, and ‘contact me’ forms, like ‘real’ people do.
So, it’s just like the birthday party when everyone in your class has been invited, except you. If you’re a novel-writing pseudonym you are most likely an adult and you could contact the organisers and inquire about the when and the where as regards the prize ceremony. Except they don’t have any contact details anywhere. (Not entirely true. I know they are on facebook. But not everyone is.)
I wasn’t able to go to the event either, but the one thing that would have made me really keen to go would have been to meet this pseudonym in the flesh.
The story could have ended there, but by strange coincidence this pseudonym knows someone I know, and discussed it with them. (Let’s call them X and Y.) Funnily enough, Y had also once missed out on this book award, even without being a psedonym. So as well as commiserating with X, Y contacted me, and I in turn emailed X to discuss this further.
X had contemplated travelling to the town where the prize was awarded, to hang out near the venue to see what might happen, but decided against it, sensing it would only hurt to stand outside, wishing you were in there with the others.
I’d say pseudonyms have feelings. And whereas I still don’t know X’s real name, I know X was willing to stand up in public and admit to being X. If only because of the fans who were looking forward to meeting the person who wrote the book they liked so much.
That’s a lot of disappointment for the sake of one measly misunderstanding over a name. Or two names.