And it’s freaking me out a bit.  But in a good way.

I am currently writing Bobbie Faye #2, and for a while, the going was slow. Then I started a stand alone thriller (very dark, psychological) and about as opposite in tone from Bobbie Faye as one could get. You’d think this would cause me some grief, switching back and forth, but instead, something has just opened up. I have become a writing maniac.

Maybe part of this new energy level is that there is zero pressure on the stand alone (after all, no one except my agent knows what it is about, and she loved the concept, so it has her encouragement behind it, but no pressure, no deadline). Whenever I’m in the mood for something darker and sinister, I work on the thriller.  It’s funny, but as I work on one of the books, my subconscious mind seems to be off working on the other one; kinda like the grass is greener or something, but whatever it is, so far, it’s working out okay. Now, this is rough draft stuff, but the pages are pouring out on both books.

Part of it is that I was forced to change something in the Bobbie Faye book because I read on another (very famous) author’s blog about her book, and she gave enough detail that showed me we had a similar element.  Now, technically, even though i sold mine over a year ago (based on a synopsis for book 2), her book will come out before mine will, and I didn’t want to look like I copied. This had me concerned enough to talk to my agent about it, and as a result, I decided to change that element. I brainstormed (and talked to writing friends, who were a tremendous help), and suddenly, I had a much better idea, more organic to my own story / location / Bobbie Faye’s world, which turned out to be funnier (as icing on the cake), and now the story just works better. If I hadn’t been forced off that other path, I wouldn’t have found this better one. Everything happens for a reason, and as worried as I was at first, I’m so glad I listened to my gut which said not to try to hang onto something just because I had worked out the details.

Since I had never switched back and forth between works before, especially since I had never even contemplated switching between tone (dark and serious vs. chaotic and funny), i didn’t think I could do it and keep writing. I thought I’d get stuck in one tone and would inadvertently carry it over to the other book.  Now, I’m not saying that won’t happen a little, and i’ll have to clean up these rough drafts later, but right now, I am beyond thrilled that they’re rocking the way they are.

One curious side issue of writing vastly different books, tone-wise, is discussing with my husband the fact that the serious book may have to go out under a pen name.  Maybe not, and that’s a long long way away before it would even go out (very likely, sometime next summer), but I’ve heard or read occasional anecdotal stories about how some authors publish under a pen name if the work is going to be different in tone from the one they’ve become “known” for.  Since Bobbie Faye will come out first and is clearly comedic / caper and will have my name on it, I kinda assume the dark psychological thriller would end up having a pen name. My husband thinks I should insist on keeping my real name on both.  I know if I’m picking up an author, I kinda assume that this book is in the same tone as the last one.  Since I like all sorts of things, though, i wouldn’t care if it turned out to be different, as long as it was well-written. But I understand some people feel like they would prefer to identify that name with a style — a type of branding, if you will.

What do you think as a reader? Does it matter to you if an author’s name is used for books with wildly different tones, or would you prefer to have one name per tone so that you can make a quick judgment in the bookstore and feel confident you knew what you were getting?  I’m really very curious what you all think.