Maybe this should have been my very first post for #queerblogwed. Not everyone knows about me and with the latest round of catfishing scandals (and people being accused of catfishing just because they have a pseudonym) I thought maybe now was a good time to introduce myself. Of course most of us know that many authors use pen names for a whole variety of reasons from simply keeping their brands separate (witness Nora Roberts for romance but J.D. Robb when she writes mysteries), to worries about identity issues and a whole lot of people being unforgiving about genres. Honestly I would have thought this went without saying yet I’ve seen some on social media screaming anyone who has a pen name is a catfishing liar. Um, yeah, no, seriously no.
Jana Denardo is a pen name. It’s one of my great grandmother’s first names and the last name of another of great grand. I thought it would be a nice way for them to live on. I’ve never pretended to be anything other than what I am, a woman (though I’m old enough to remember when it was nearly mandatory to have a male pen name to write m/m fiction back in the 90s). I accept there are people who think I have no business writing this genre because of my own gender and I can understand the backlash. For a long time gays (along with non-whites) were used in fiction as comedy relief or villains in cruel stereotypes. Who wouldn’t be mistrustful of those outside the group? I know there isn’t much I can do to change the the minds of those who think women shouldn’t write gay fiction because we aren’t gay men and don’t understand (for that matter would I understand a straight man any better?) but you know what? Since fourth grade, there has always been someone there to tell me I can’t do something because of my gender: women can’t be smart (this by the 4-6th science teacher who would point to the Ascent of Man chart and say ‘man’ and point to Australopithecus and call it woman.’), women can’t be doctors, it’s a waste of education, they only get a degree because they HAVE to let them in (any number of patients, family members and men who I beat out for my chair in medical school), women can’t be scientists (you know so says that Nobel prize winner last year). It’s not new to me. It hurts but I go on and try my best for accuracy.
So yes I am smart. I am a doctor and I’m now a scientist. I was a podiatrist specializing in wound care so I’ve done a lot of gross things and tons of amputations and I’m a daub hand at wounding characters if you want to ask me about it. I was injured. A patient kicked me and ruptured the nerves in my hand (Not gonna lie, it was painful seeing Doctor Strange this past year and I stumbled at the opening of Anna Butler’s The Gilded Scarab because I KNOW what it’s like to study your brains out, sacrifice a lot to become something and lose it to an accident. And oh btw, loving Anna’s book!).
I retrained (sadly not gaining any mystical powers). I’m now a professor and scientist at a rural Appalachian college in the south of Ohio. I’m doing research at the moment that I hope will be published soon (so apparently a uterus is not a detriment to being good in science).
So back to that pen name of mine. Why did I chose to use one? For two reasons, one the other genre I’m mostly trying to get published is YA urban fantasy/fantasy. I didn’t think it would be great for a 13 year old to follow my backlist and end up with something erotic, which most of Jana’s fiction has a little of. Secondly, my university is conservative, well not so much the professors but there are some of those too but the board is highly conservative. I wasn’t yet tenured and teaching jobs are scarce. I have to admit I was afraid to have someone find out I wrote LGBT friendly fiction. I know of only three LGBT professors and two of them hide it hard core because they share that fear. It’s saddening and maddening that this is still an issue but it is. And actually only one of those professors is still here. The one who was loud and proud about it was fired (not for that of course but they found a tiny excuse and dropped her fast) and the other quit but that was more of not liking it here than related to her sexuality.
Given that, I thought a pen name was wise and I still think so.
A little more about me in case you haven’t figured it out, I am the queen of geeks. SF/F/UF are my jam (along with mysteries, love mysteries). I read comic books and manga and once I get better internet out here in the sticks I plan to mainline my favorite drug: anime. I don’t just write steampunk, I live it. I’m active with a local steampunk group. I play clarinet and sax and I’m teaching myself Native American flute.
I’m unhealthy as holy hell. Diabetic, arthritis in every joint, fibromyalgia and more but no one wants to hear me whine.
I go ghosthunting (for real). I hike (as much as I’m able). I used to spelunk. I love animals but I only own cats (well just one at the moment). I do love dogs but my lifestyle isn’t great for them. I like to talk and talk and talk and read more than I talk. I garden and I wish I could travel more than I do.
So that is me. I hope you stick with me. If not, I still wish you well.