Montana Black is not here

MONTANA BLACK is not here

Montana Black was an experiment in using a pseudonym for the next novel. However, it feels really uncomfortable using the moniker when going on social media sites, since it seems like it could be understood as an attempted deception. It’s one thing putting a name on a book cover, it’s another using that name for announcements in the first person singular.

To be fair, it’s done all the time in music: Madonna, Lady Gaga, Iggy Pop et al, but somehow it’s understood that it’s a real person behind the name – you can hear them singing on recordings or watch them on television or on stage. That isn’t so clear in the world of modern literature where the authorial name is perhaps the only authentic presence available to the reader.

True, since the dawn of the western literary tradition pseudonyms are commonly used: Homer, Hesiod, Plato and so on, right up through the Georges Elliot, Sand and Orwell, on to the regular use of pseudonyms by modern-day writers, especially where the writer chooses a name which seems best-suited for a particular genre: Mickey Hammer for a hard-boiled thriller, say, or a Rosemary Bliss for romantic fiction, Ayn Rand for a ghastly philosophy concerning the survival of the fittest…oh, that’s already taken. But you get the idea.

Somehow, Montana Black felt suited because it has the feeling of being free and away from the grid – as I am in reality.

Also, it is ambisexual, which seemed desirable since the new novel is very much grounded in sexual relations and contrasting loves between people as it was first recounted in what is probably the best-known story of all in the western world: that of events in the garden of Eden. Over the course of time that depiction of our original forebears has taken on the stigma of misogyny – largely because of an added commentary – rather that the telling of a great cosmic truth, and that is an enormous burden for any text to bear. All the more so if the re-telling is undertaken by a man. No one wants to be associated with out-dated, even oppressive, thought patterning, regardless of how baseless the charge. Add to that the almost unbearable final scene, set amongst the elements of nature, and it is really unsurprising that the author might wish to create some distance between book cover name and content.

In the end though, as in the beginning, there remains the birth-name.

On reflection, this name is perfect. The first word means ‘valley’, in Welsh, which fits with where I live and work ensconced in a mountain range of central Portugal, overlooking a series of beautiful valleys and undulations all the way out to the Atlantic coast, and up here near the ‘ridge’ of one particular mountain the house rests in the ‘lee’ of the prevailing wind. Plus, orthographically-speaking, dig the repeated g, l and y).

So, my own name it will most likely be.

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