Faking It

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This past week we had another case in mmlandia of an author who faked a gay male identity for years. This deception was perpetuated in interviews, he had a body double do a book signing, he blogged about being gaybashed, coming out, and even posted photographs in interviews of a guy that was supposedly him …

Over the years this author developed a reputation for insisting on the superiority of male authors in the M/M genre and disparaged female authors “for trying to “cash in” on gay romance.”

By now, many of us have read A.J. Llewellyn’s “apology.” Oddly enough, this blog post focused on his pain at being exposed by a fellow writer and avoided any real remorse. Stories have been circulating on the Internet for a while about AJ not being a gay male, so the dastardly deed of the big “reveal” could have been done before by any number of people. Though acknowledging he had been dishonest, he expressed only sorrow at discovery and complained of the distress it had caused him and, in particular, castigated the person who revealed the truth. With much wringing of hands, he confessed “reluctantly” that the stress of exposure had made him even consider suicide. His fans proved quick to forgive and rail against the person who had told the truth; other readers expressed shock, dismay and confusion at the tone in his blog post.

Could AJ not just have said in his post “I lied,” “mea culpa”, and expressed the hope his fans and colleagues would forgive his deception? He co-opted a gay man’s identity to give himself authority and his books authenticity as a writer in this genre. In retrospect, his insincerity and condescension are unbelievable. His fake identity became a kind of sexy Kevlar vest, winning attention and deflecting any criticism, and he regularly attacked reviewers and readers who dared to question his authority as a gay man.

Many female authors who write gay romances are honest, work hard at their craft, and they write wonderful books. We know that the majority of writers in this genre are women, and yet a percentage of female authors often feel compelled to use ambiguous pen names for reasons of marketing as well as privacy. Before anyone suggests that I’m bothered by authorial pseudonyms, I wrote a post a year ago about author pen names and I’m linking it here if you haven’t seen it. In that post my main point was that authors have every right to use pen names. At issue here is not AJ’s use of an alias, but the way he used it to mislead others behind the shield of a fake identity.

The toxic backlash this week arose from Llewellyn’s misrepresentation of identity and fabrication of life experiences. He lectured, scolded, and dismissed criticism of his work based on his “gay male” experience. One commenter on his “Coming Clean” post, Tina, said this much better than I could:

“I don’t care about your gender. What I do care about are the interviews and articles where you claimed to be a gay man. You spoke about life as a gay man, which you are not. You lied about life experience as a gay man, which you are not. You claimed to be a gay man and gave life experience about sexual exploits and coming out experience. You also said you were better than female authors writing m/m, because you were a gay male. You approached your fans, the public & specifically the GLBT community as a gay male. Even if you identify as male, you don’t have the gay male life experience you so publicly claimed to have. Let’s not minimize this. It is not just a case of lying about gender.

Another reader, Angela, had this to say about the post-confessional love fest on AJ’s blog:

It’s one big love-fest. Is there no one questioning the ‘real life’ instances of bullying you described. Bullying endured because you were supposedly a gay man? That’s one hell of a marketing tool. Just imagine all the gay men who read about your experiences and could empathise. And now it’s all a big fat lie. But then again, this blog post is all about your pain. Why think of others YOU might have hurt?

No one expects authors to use their real names but at least we expect them to respect the community they write about. So what if A.J. Llewellyn doesn’t have a penis?! News flash – half of the world population doesn’t have one either and we manage to survive without our very own dangly bits. This author has been writing in the M/M genre for about four and a half years so he has had to maintain this fake identity for at least that length of time; I’m sure the weight on his conscience must have been terrible.

This little scandal will die down soon and all will be forgiven, but it will leave a bad taste in the mouths of a few readers and fans of the author. Authors’ personal lives are their own business and no one gives a flying f**k what they do in real life, but it seems clear that AJ never intended to come clean that he is not, in fact, a gay man. The genre has been around long enough for female authors to recognize that fans accept that women can write M/M books that are as good as those written by gay men, with a few caveats. As Sean Kennedy and M. Jules Aedin said in a post on this site sometime ago:

….sometimes we aren’t portrayed realistically in GLBTQ books and media. Sometimes our lives are caricatured, or our struggles simplified or overlooked. Let’s be honest; it’s not all gay bashing and getting thrown out of our parents’ homes. There are subtler forms of homophobia and oppression that often don’t get portrayed in the genre, many of them from people who consider themselves to be helping.

It’s difficult to know the full extent of discrimination against disadvantaged and marginalized groups unless you live it and I have a deep appreciation for GBLTQ issues because I’m also a member of a minority. As Rick R. Reed said in an essay about Writing About Real Gay Men which I have linked -

As a gay man, I can tell you that I—or close friends—have personally wrestled with such issues as homophobia, HIV, drug abuse, promiscuity, job discrimination, hate crimes, the inability to marry the person we love, and many other things that occupy today’s headlines.

By pretending to be gay, AJ trivialized these real experiences so that his books could be viewed as being credible and authentic. He described coming out, being bashed, and wrestling with imaginary hardships; as a writer, that’s irresponsible, but as a human being it’s unconscionable and does a disservice to real GBLTQ persons struggling with these issues. AJ’s fans will forgive him for this deception because he is extremely popular and all will be well in his world, but neither he nor they seem to understand why this kind of deception has a greater impact or larger consequences than his bottom line. The saddest thing is the thought that younger fans may feel betrayed or misled. Bullying against gay teens is on the rise again, with more GBLTQ kids at risk for suicide every day. It is vital that they have authentic role models. Gay kids are kicked out of their homes regularly by their parents because of their sexual orientation and they try to find heroes in their larger community. When their heroes fail them that’s yet another blow they have to weather at a time when they can least sustain the shock.

I’m going to borrow from Sean Kennedy again. When he heard about AJ’s outing he posted a picture on Twitter of a couple of singers known as Milli Vanilli, who were faking it in Hollywood in the late 1980s and early 1990s and even won a Grammy for their debut album. Fans found out later they were models lip synching their vocals. At the time their producers admitted to hiring male models who could “front” the album for marketing purposes. AJ’s imaginary life as a gay man served much the same function: a slick, calculated, marketing package intended to deceive.

I think what most upset me about this whole debacle is how many authors and fans shrugged this deception off as if it were of no consequence. This is not about pen names – very few people online use their real names. This is about an author who deliberately for 4 1/2 years appropriated the suffering of a marginalized group of people to make money off them, to sidestep criticism, and to openly denigrate female writers, many of whom are now defending him. Lots of authors use ambiguous pseuds, but most of them do not pretend to be gay men.

Some of Llewellyn’s more vehement fans denounced anyone still expecting remorse. AJ and his supporters have used words like “witch hunt” and “lynch mob” and “revenge” to describe the dismay and confusion of disappointed voices within the community. Yet, revenge doesn’t start in a vacuum. A lynch mob acts without discussion or rational analysis, and witch hunts can only take place when an innocent person is accused of an imaginary wrong. His “pitchfork-carrying” detractors have presented more than sufficient evidence and analysis. AJ is not innocent and the wrong is real.

Much of the anger concentrates on AJ’s hypocrisy and his lack of regret. He doesn’t seem to grasp his own role in provoking people’s dismay and disgust. He gives the impression of being incapable of taking full responsibility for some rotten behaviour and doesn’t appear to be interested in making real amends, if such a thing were possible. The larger GBLTQ literary community has been slow to accept gay romance and this fallout will not do M/M any favours in that quarter.

Obviously things in M/M are changing and more revelations are sure to emerge…… Hopefully we can all learn from the past misdeeds of one author and the forgiveness offered by the community.

UPDATE

Out of respect for the trans* community I have changed the pronouns in this post to the masculine gender when referring to AJ Llewellyn.

116 thoughts on “Faking It

  1. Tj

    Wow, this is surprising and disappointing. I’ve really enjoyed AJ’s books over the years, not because I believed she was a he, but because they were well written.
    Although I completely understand feeling the need to have a pseudonym to write under, and I’m sure men have written books under female pseudonyms, I do take issue with the fabrication of life experiences of an often maligned group to sell books.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Tj
      What really bothered me was the hypocrisy of the “apology” and the way she demonised the author who revealed her gender. AJ has beaten up on female M/M authors for years for daring to write in this genre becausxe they are not gay men. Well hello!!

      I think what she has done by co-opting a gay identity to sell her books is egregious, but I’m sure there are just as many authors and readers who will shrug this off.

  2. Natasha

    Wave,
    You have once again hit the nail on the head.

    Thank you for speaking for all of us that have struggled to put our disgust into words…. Well words printable for the general public.

    Natasha

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Natasha
      It was a struggle for me to swallow the bile and write with less emotion. Many of AJ’s fans will say this is all about pseudonyms and they will refuse to see the big picture that we were all hoodwinked for years by this author who accused female authors of exactly what she was doing – “cashing in” on a hot genre.

      1. Natasha

        Wave,

        I must add, for those who will say that we are now picking on Transgendered people, AJ is not now or has ever been transgendered. I have confirmation from 5 reliable sources and by sources, these are people who have met her and or spoken to her.

        1. Sirius

          I do not particularly believe him either – timing is too convenient, but will continue to refer to him as he out of respect for other transgendered people. This is just my choice and as I said I am not inclined to believe either.

          1. Lasha

            I am with Sirius on this, whether or not AJ really is FtM transgendered, I will still refer to him as he out of respect for the rest of the LGBT community.

            As for the other things discussed in the post, I am keeping my opinions to myself and taking the 5th.

        2. Wave Post author

          Natasha
          I didn’t say anything about AJ’s claim that she’s transgendered since there was no way to verify that, but going by her past actions I had put it in the “maybe, with a hint of rain” category. Your comment calls into question everything she said in her apology to her fans.

          1. Natasha

            Wave,

            That wasn’t an apology, it was an I’ve been busted and will now lie my way out by going for the sympathy vote LOL!

            She has shown what a great fiction writer she is by the way she had duped so many people for so many years. Why would her apology be any different?

  3. Midia

    I agree with everything you say in your post except this sentence:

    I’m glad that AJ’s shit storm had at least one other author revealing that she’s also female. Just a few days ago AJ’s writing partner D.J. Manly very quietly changed her gender on Facebook.

    I do not think we have the right to outed writers as some people are demanding. If the pen names is only for publication of their books and they do not invent a life experience that they do not have, as was the case for AJ I do not see the need they assumed their genre. Whether or not DJ Manly and Josh Lanyon are women is not going to change my appreciation for their stories.
    In my opinion the act of AJ was irresponsible and despicable, but not serve as a parameter to judge the remains of the authors.

    1. Wave Post author

      I think that DJ chose of his own accord to out himself. I heard about it a few days after AJ’s apology. It was done quietly and DJ made a point on his FB to point to the change in gender. I think it was guilt at staying silent after the AJ debacle, since they are so close, that made DJ out itself and had nothing to do with anyone else.

      I know of a few authors who are on the down low but they have done nothing like AJ. I’m not advocating that anyone should out themself, all I said was that I was glad that DJ had decided to reveal herself. Perhaps I’ll delete the words “I’m glad” because I’m certainly not outing anyone.

      1. Midia

        I understand what you mean and sorry if I gave the wrong impression.
        I’m following this scandal since Monday and I do not remember which blog I read a comment that said the authors should take advantage of this moment and outed themselves before they are discovered. And to my amazement this was not the only comment of the same style. And honestly I do not understand why you needed to know the sex of the author to you like or dislike the story.

        1. Wave Post author

          I think that a lot of people are mixing A.J’s extreme deception with the general practice by female M/M authors of using male or ambiguous pseuds.

          I don’t care about the gender of an author as long as the words on the page hold my interest.

          Last year I posted pictures of gay celebrities in our Saturday Guys and I was careful not to include anyone who had not declared himself, and that goes double for authors.

  4. Sirius

    I have read about it, I really do not like what he did. I do not feel entitled to details of author’s personal life, but if author goes out and presents the details of it as nonfiction, I am going to be annoyed. It is that simple really, I am going to extrapolate on the example of prejudice I know since as a straight person I do not suffer what GLBT people do on daily basis. If you will write a *fictional* story about suffering Jews endured in the Soviet Union, I do not give a crap whether you had ever lived in Soviet Union and whether you are a Jew. If I feel that the story is well researched and well written, this is all I care about. But if you are going to share with me your nonfictional experiences while marketing your book about sufferings you and your family endured while living as Jews in soviet Union, you better *be* Jew who lived in Soviet Union. Otherwise you are claiming real pain and real suffering as your own for the purpose of making money. And even if he is a trasngendered person as he claims, I still feel that he claimed some things which are not his own.

    1. Wave Post author

      Sirius

      But if you are going to share with me your nonfictional experiences while marketing your book about sufferings you and your family endured while living as Jews in soviet Union, you better *be* Jew who lived in Soviet Union. Otherwise you are claiming real pain and real suffering as your own for the purpose of making money

      That’s exactly what upset me about this whole travesty, and it is a travesty. If she had just written books about gay men in love and promoted them in the usual way, people would not be as upset at being taken in. If you are going to co-opt the suffering of a group of people who have already lost so much you had better be prepared for the strong reactions of those who abhor that kind of behaviour.

  5. Sasha

    You guys are completely right. It’s fine to have a pen name, even one that doesn’t give away your gender, and write whatever flavour of romance suits you best – whether you’re a man writing m/f or even f/f romance or a woman writing m/m, it’s all about the quality of writing and the journey you take your reader on.

    If you want to do so while leaving your readers guessing who (or what) you are, that’s fine. Lying about it, though, is another thing entirely. Especially these days, where I think you’d get more flack if you were a man writing regency romance than if you’re a woman writing m/m…

    Sasha Conte is my own penname (or rather pseudonym, seeing as I’m unpublished), and I did not choose it because it’s a unisex name, but because it’s very, very close to a childhood nickname of mine. I’m not going to go around telling everyone whether I’m m or f, but I’m not going to lie about it, either.

    Although to be fair you can probably tell from my avatar picture. ; )

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Sasha
      Thanks for commenting. As I said in the post, this is not about pen names but about someone who deceived the M/M community for 4 1/2 years in a BIG way.
      No one will care about your gender Sasha, all they will care about when you’re published is the quality of your writing. :grin:

  6. Leslie S

    Wave, thank you for this post although I’m sure it was hard to write. Yours is one of the most reasoned responses I’ve read and I agree with everything you’ve written here. I know of a couple of authors with male pen-names who are biologically women, but AFAIK they’ve always been careful not to deceive, misdirect, or claim experiences that weren’t theirs, and that’s the real issue here. I honestly don’t care about an author’s personal life, I just want to read their books. I do care though when an author makes claims about having experiences as AJ Llewellyn did just for the sake of sales and to seem more ‘credible’. To me that goes way beyond the creation of an author persona and it was a terrible thing to do, even if it started out as ‘well-intentioned’.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Leslie

      The pity is that I don’t think others have learned the lesson about once we set out to deceive…

      I wish that authors will now let their talent speak for them without the need for something like what has been inflicted on us by this author. Readers are only interested in the quality of the writing unless an author blatantly lies about experiences that are not hers (or his) in order to sell books. Like you, I just want to read books that make my heart sing. :)

  7. Pea

    I had not heard of this controversy before. I have to agree. I have no problem with authors who choose not to be forthcoming about themselves. However, actual fabrication of life events in order to make money is at the expense of those who actually experienced such suffering and is unconscionable. Period. I won’t be buying this author’s books in future.

    1. Wave Post author

      Pea
      Thanks for commenting. You captured my post in a nutshell

      However, actual fabrication of life events in order to make money is at the expense of those who actually experienced such suffering and is unconscionable. Period

      Exactly. I hope some day she will realize the real harm she has done.

  8. Jaime

    Wave, well said :bravo:

    AJ is a lying liar…and her so called apology on her “Coming clean” blog was garbage and full of lies!

  9. Anon

    Just the moment when reps from the publishers were on the thread in the MM group on goodreads, admitting that they told DJ and AJ to “knock it off” and that the “fake online romance” was a very bad idea AND the moment when the co-author’s sister stated that she had emails proving her claims, the thread was shut down.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Anon
      I could never figure out those GR threads. I recently joined but unless someone points me to a discussion I’m completely at sea.

      Thank you for commenting.

        1. Wave Post author

          AJ criticized her co-writer about her stance on human rights?? My understanading is that the co-writer has a gay son and she’s very supportive of him and GBLTQ issues. What nerve on AJ’s part. :(

          Thanks for the link.

    2. JenMcJ

      Wait, we shut down that thread because it had degenerated into name calling and no new information was coming out at the time.

      We will be happy to reopen it when new info emerges or someone contacts a mod and asks us to because they have something different to add.

      I made my point perfectly clear about my feelings about the publishers being culpable in this and I am very anxious to find out what happened with Jackie the sister and her attempts to get AJ to back off her false assertions.

      I have had continued conversations with the person from the publishers and I will post those when and if we reopen the thread. We are doing nothing that isn’t transparent regarding this.

      There was and is no conspiracy to protect anyone or censor comments.

  10. Catana

    Two things I’ve never understood and never will. When an author (or any other person) deliberately sets out to create a deception in order to benefit themself, why would anybody expect them to offer a genuine apology?

    When people have been lied to, systematically led to believe something that isn’t true, and sometimes even been stolen from, why do they forgive, support, and even excuse that person?

    1. Wave Post author

      Catana

      You are absolutely correct. Why should we expect a genuine apology from someone who has lied to the GBLTQ community, other authors and readers for years.

      The second question I can’t answer and I’m struggling with it because this authors fangirls are ridiculing anyone who won’t give AJ a pass for this blatant deceit.

  11. Sarah

    I hadn’t heard about this until I read Wave’s article.
    It reminds me of something a little similar from when I was playing the online game World of Warcraft: for a few years there had been a very popular blog that addressed playing a particular class, written from the perspective of a woman.
    Over the years she had included photos of herself and some personal history – I can’t remember how much, if any, was related to the problems woman can experience from male gamers.
    And then it was revealed that the writer was actually male, the blog had possibly been written by a couple of people over time, and the photos had been taken from another blogger’s site (without their permission).
    Again I think the writer was quite unapologetic. And many people felt quite betrayed – although the class specific info had been good, to discover that the person they thought was writing was fictional didn’t go down very well.

    I appreciate that it’s a long way from fraudulently claiming to be a gay man and experiencing a number of hardships as such. But I remember feeling disturbed in the first instance. This strikes me as so much worse, especially given the author seemed to be trying for the moral high ground.
    I have read one story by A J Llewellyn, but this leaves enough of a bad taste that I’m unlikely to buy anymore.
    And I say that from the perspective of being female, not writing, and having seen the struggles that gay friends have gone through – it seems to cheapen their experiences.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Sarah

      And I say that from the perspective of being female, not writing, and having seen the struggles that gay friends have gone through – it seems to cheapen their experiences.

      That was one of the main reasons why I decided to write this post. The writer had assumed a gender and lifestyle that she had no right to, and was profiting from the struggles of the real people who actually have to live their lives being less than.

  12. jeff erno

    I started following this scandal on Tuesday and have gone back and forth, trying to sort out how I feel about it. On the one hand, I believe in an author’s right to privacy. In fact, I have a series of very hardcore BDSM stories which I have wanted to publish but did not want to use my own name because of the fact that I also write Young Adult. I am planning to use a pseudonym.

    I also do not personally care about the gender or personal lifestyle of an author, but there were times when I have been disappointed when a particular “hero” proves to be of a different gender than I thought them to be. One famous BDSM author comes to mind. When I started reading his books, I was in awe and aspired to be like him. Later I read an article in which it was revealed he was a woman. As far as I know, though, he never perpetuated an assumed identity.

    The thing that bothers me about AJ is that I remember what it was like to be a closeted gay teen who was afraid to come out. People like Elton John, Ellen, and other gay celebrities meant the world to me. I also had a long list of gay authors that I read, and I used to dream about being like them one day–a successful writer. I just wish AJ had come out as transgendered from the beginning (if this is who he is). It could have helped a lot of kids.

    My heart does go out to AJ, and I believe he is having a very hard time right now. I also completely understand the anger and betrayal that so many of his readers and admirers now feel. I don’t think this was a witch hunt. It is just very sad.

    This is a very good article you have posted. It really makes me think, and I know that if I do decide to move forward with the use of the pen name, I will do so in a manner that is very careful, honest, and respectful. No matter how badly we want to sell books and be successful, it is never okay to hurt people, especially those who are most vulnerable.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Jeff

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Re your first comment about wanting to publish a few stories but not wanting to use your own name, one of the reviewers on this site faced a similar problem. She wrote fantasy books for pre teens and when she decided to write M/M she had to use a different name because she didn’t want her young fantasy fans to come across one of her erotic books. In addition she was afraid that if the parents found out she would be blacklisted. So I guess what I’m saying is, I think you’re making the right decision to use a pseudonym for this new line of books and you would obviously have to have a new website.

      One famous BDSM author comes to mind. When I started reading his books, I was in awe and aspired to be like him. Later I read an article in which it was revealed he was a woman. As far as I know, though, he never perpetuated an assumed identity

      If you’re talking about James Buchanan, I don’t believe he has ever claimed to be a gay man – he’s transgender. But perhaps you’re talking about someone else.

      The thing that bothers me about AJ is that I remember what it was like to be a closeted gay teen who was afraid to come out. People like Elton John, Ellen, and other gay celebrities meant the world to me. I also had a long list of gay authors that I read, and I used to dream about being like them one day–a successful writer.

      That was one of my major concerns. Gay teens who are in such hurt these days are trying to find credible heroes and when they come across something like this they are further demoralised.

      I think that AJ will rebound from this — she has too many balls (not hers, but other people’s) :lol: to let anything like readers being upset at her usurping a gay identity and lifestyle bother her too much. Which is really too bad.

  13. brian

    Wave, thank you for posting this. This just upsets me the more I think about it.

    Personally (and this may not be a popular belief, but it is how I feel), I do not like it when authors use ambiguous names or pseudonyms. I do not care that it is not their real name, that is not the issue, no one should have to disclose exactly who they are for privacy reasons. Gender and orientation, though, should not be manipulated.

    Do not lie about it and carry on as if it were gospel. You are making money from people trusting you, and promoting you to friends. This is about integrity. I cannot go to work and lie about my gender or orientation to make more money, friends, or get a job that I am applying to.

    To me, it cheapens my experiences in life, my feelings, my struggles, and the genre. Bias is everywhere, you learn to deal with it and rise above it. You don’t get to cheat it and then cry foul when it hurts your bottom line, in my opinion.

    Again, personally, this is one reason why I do not buy many books by initialed authors. I want to trust and believe authors. And yes, if I found out that a prolific “male” author was not male, I would immediately stop buying “his” books. Again, it’s all about integrity to me. I don’t care how prolific the author is. It’s not ok.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Brian

      I do understand why authors use ambiguous names and pseudonyms because at the drop of a hat a determined and deranged stalker could find out their personal information and be at their home. This happened to an Amazon reviewer – except in that case it was an author who stalked her because she hated a review this woman had done on her book.

      I think it’s immaterial whether an author uses John Smith or J.F. Smith as a pseud, as long as they don’t assume that identity in RL in order to dupe everyone, like AJ did. You don’t get to benefit without having experienced the suffering.

      You’re right about the lack of integrity. Making money off the backs of a disadvantaged group of people by assuming their identity in order to sell books is reprehensible and should be criminal.

      To me, it cheapens my experiences in life, my feelings, my struggles, and the genre. Bias is everywhere, you learn to deal with it and rise above it. You don’t get to cheat it and then cry foul when it hurts your bottom line, in my opinion

      You are absolutely correct Brian and I couldn’t have said it better.

  14. Catana

    “Again, personally, this is one reason why I do not buy many books by initialed authors.”

    I don’t understand what initials have to do with it. I use my own last name and initials on my books, and so do many authors. Initials can be a way of protecting one’s privacy without having to use a completely false pen name. Not that I have any problem with pen names, it’s just not what I chose to do. Neither one guarantees the integrity of the author. And the issue here is integrity, not whether the author is using a pen name.

    1. brian

      You are correct, I should clarify. I do not buy initialed authors who do not identify their gender. Or authors that specifically chose an ambiguous first name and then refuse to identify themselves as a gender. It is a personal choice, not everyone will agree, but that is how I feel. I hope that helps.

  15. SusieQ

    Wow, just wow! :shock: I had heard nothing of this previously but I agree completely with you, Wave. Before claiming all the trials & tribulations of a gay man, walk a few miles in his shoes. I will not be buying any more of HER books. Am just floored…

    1. Wave Post author

      You’re absolutely right SusieQ. You don’t get to call yourself a gay man unless you can prove you walked in his shoes.

  16. Ana

    I think Jesse and all the previous posters have fairly covered the topic of A.J. doing a disservice to the GLBTQ community by usurping their painful experiences as her own. It’s abhorrent, and to me is the worst part of what she did.

    What angers me personally, though, is the disservice she’s done to other women who write in the genre. She’s downplayed our talents and tried to steer buyers away from us. While I don’t support anyone’s claim that the abilities of a person of one gender are inherently superior to another, this situation makes me especially mad. That she would try to damage other women writers in order to lift her own sales is despicable.

    My day job is in art, and women are the minority. In that field, the women I know support each other and celebrate each other’s achievements. We don’t try to tear each other down like A.J. has.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Anna

      What angers me personally, though, is the disservice she’s done to other women who write in the genre. She’s downplayed our talents and tried to steer buyers away from us.

      Yet so many of her colleagues support her.

      Female authors and male authors write equally well or equally poorly, depending on their knowledge of the topic and the amount of research. I don’t think either sex has an edge overall over the other. My favourite authors in this genre are more women than men and that’s primarily because more females write M/M.

      Talent does not discriminate and hopefully readers will come to recognize yours from reading your books, and not judge you on what another author says.

  17. Teddypig

    “authors and fans shrugged this deception off as if it were of no consequence.”

    I am not an author or a fan. In fact I called out AJ over the whole Erastes review deally on Goodreads mess if you remember.

    As someone who has been reviewing Gay Romance as long as you have Jessewave I am surprised at you for posting something like this. I have personally known about this type of gender switching going on behind the pen names for a long time now. It is what I call insider junk but it’s been apart of Gay Romance scene forever so why all the surprise and shock?

    I have known about all this since I first ran into Torquere Press in fact which was in my opinion the epicenter of this type of behavior for ages.

    So as an actual Gay Man who knows better to to get into the whole making “judgement calls” on people or their sexuality who might dress differently than me or might want to be treated as a different gender… COUNT ME OUT.

    I think several folks are on my never buy list for their behavior over this mess Sean Kennedy being one of them.

    If you do not like AJ for his actions then fine say so and tell us the actions that pissed you off and get it over with. That is fine.

    Acting like it’s about how I should be outraged as a gay man is insulting to me sorry but it is. Don’t tell me when I should be upset about you are not me.

    Even I know that authors of whatever gender have a right to their privacy and their private lives and they have a right to be whatever gender they want to be or whatever race they want to be or whatever type of person and always have.

    Nothing new to see here folks really.

    1. Wave Post author

      TP

      I don’t have your advantage of being an insider and obviously I’m not a gay man. If you feel that what she did is okay then I applaud you. However for what it’s worth I think that what she did is egregious.

      Denigrating her peers for being what she is, a female writer in this genre, is at the very least hypocritical and demeaning. No one cared about her gender until she made it an issue and became a spokesperson for gay men in the genre and gave us the benefit of her “expertise”.

      I’m not going to re-state what’s in the post. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and can draw their own conclusions.

      1. Teddypig

        Wave,

        I guess then that is the real lesson learned here that they have to have your permission first before they will be treated as the gender they wish to be.

    2. Bryant

      I have to say, Teddypig, that there’s more to this than the points you’ve addressed here.

      From what I understand, this author fabricated “real life” struggles with “his” own sexuality, and also criticized female authors trying to “cash in” on the genre.

      That’s a little bit different from merely using a gender de plume.

      If I’m wrong about these facts, I’ll humbly sit down and be quiet. But when one makes up stories about “his” own struggles and suffering, and then tells the female gender to stay out of m/m romance when “he” is in fact a woman, that doesn’t count as “nothing to see here” or “Gee, never mind.”

      1. Teddypig

        Your right, if I expected more out of a Gay Romance author than a good story and I got all involved with the reality TV style marketing and wanted to know what AJ thought and what AJ made important about current events etc etc etc then maybe I might be upset to have been taken in.

        But then I have to ask myself why the hell I put so much importance in what a Gay Romance author was saying or doing?

        1. Bryant

          So if someone writes about his or her experience in a concentration camp, and it’s later revealed they spent WW II sunning and sipping wine on a beach, you’d be okay with that?

          I’m sorry, but the likes of James Frey piss me off. Does it ruin my life? No. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to smile and say, “Hey, that’s okay. Go ahead and dupe me. Everyone else does.”

            1. Bryant

              No, he didn’t, as you know, and that’s not my point. (Your arrogance isn’t helping get your point across, by the way.)

              This author claimed to have been gay-bashed in REAL LIFE. The author and “her” work were tied in as a package deal. The stories were supposdly influenced to some degree from of her identity as a gay man. Now we know that to be ALL FAKE!

              If a politician tells me he fought in Korea, if an actress says she based her character from her time as a factory worker, or if a car salesman tells me he drives a Toyota, and THESE ARE ALL LIES, yeah, that irks me.

              1. Teddypig

                I try not to throw those rocks unless I know I am far enough from the glass house.

                Sexual identity is not a solid object that can be judged well by others or anyone but by the person themselves.

                As I said in the very first comment here.

                If you have a problem with a specific action that AJ did then that is fine to be upset over. Have at it.

                But making this more than it is and judging him on the whole “sexuality thing” is not OK and is never OK and you have no clue if he lied or what exactly he lied about and no one does except what he has already admitted to.

                    1. Bryant

                      Ah, I’d love to stay here and keep responding to your miss-the-mark comments, but I must go tweet as “Brad Pitt”, and then file a frivolous lawsuit, which is no problem in Teddypig’s No Accountability La-La Land.

  18. Sue Brown

    I can appreciate why men feel particularly upset and betrayed by AJ. I have read many eloquent comments from gay guys this week, and yes, if I was a guy, I’d probably feel that way too.

    Do I give AJ my support? Yes, I do. Because the mob mentality shown on some of the forums and blogs, hasn’t stuck to why they personally feel angry/betrayed but evil bitchiness that has extended to the people around AJ.

    Leaving that element aside, when authors are discriminated on the basis of how they’ve picked their name, it makes a mockery of all hard work that goes into writing a book.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Sue

      Leaving that element aside, when authors are discriminated on the basis of how they’ve picked their name, it makes a mockery of all hard work that goes into writing a book.

      What I said in the post is that this is not about pseudonyms. Every writer has the right to choose what to call him/herself. What this is about is what she did, pretended to be gay for years, and by doing so trivialized the real experiences and suffering of gay men so that her books could be viewed as being credible and authentic. Making a buck trumps everything I guess.

      I’m not going to repeat what’s in the post but I’m sure you are aware that she wrote posts demeaning female M/M authors, and even accused them of “cashing in” on the genre. If that sits well with you and you can defend her, then that’s your prerogative.

      1. Sue Brown

        I don’t defend AJ’s actions and I have been very specific on my reasons for supporting AJ.

        As for the pseudonyms – that is reflected in the comments after the post.

        Lastly, if AJ was the only one to denigrate female authors, yeah I’d be pissed off. I wonder how many people throwing stones at AJ are just as quick to be rude about female authors, or male authors, or whatever they don’t like.

        1. Wave Post author

          Sue
          since we’re talking about AJ, I think I said why I was upset about this whole debacle. Is she the only author who is faking it? I’m sure she’s not, she just happened to be caught after a long run.

          I can’t speak for others who are throwing stones and I can only repeat what I said in the post. I think it’s scummy to pretend to be a member of a disadvantaged group in order to make money off them. Also, beating people over the heads with your “expertise” as a gay man and using said expertise to elevate yourself over your colleagues is something else I though reflected poorly on AJ. But that’s just me.

  19. Wendy Mitchell

    Sorry, I don’t see what the big deal is. If you enjoyed the author’s work, then what does her supposed gender have to do with anything.So she has a fake persona, don’t we all to some degree? Either her writing was up to par or not. That should be the only issue.

    1. Wave Post author

      Wendy
      This has nothing to do with gender or a pen name. Almost everyone online uses a pseud. What this is about is misappropriating the identity of a disadvantaged minority group i.e. gay men, for personal gain.

      About 75% of the writers in this genre are female and many of them write great books. This author chose to steal the identity of a gay man to make herself into an authority, and used that persona to demean and browbeat her fellow female authors, as well as those who criticized her work.

      Credibility comes into this but obviously not everyone feels the same and I know that AJ has a lot of fans to whom this does not matter.

  20. Rae Smith

    I don’t look at an authors gender when selecting books to read, I look at the blurb, and more importantly, reviews. Gender doesn’t even come into it, and oftentimes, the only time I realize an author I like is male or female is by looking on their own websites for further reading material.

    The gender of the writer isn’t important to me, but the quality of the work is :)

    1. Jaime

      Her gender is not my issue Rae, it’s her deceitful behaviour and then making her self look like a victim and then spreading lies about innocent people….why the hell would I want to support someone like that!

      1. Rae Smith

        Oh, no, I totally agree with you, and the post.

        I’ve been through this before on a more personal level with another author who spent a couple of years lying about her gender, and the outcome/aftermath wasn’t pleasant – without going into specifics.

        What I should have said was that I have no issue with the gender of the author, but I do have an issue with lies, deceit and fraud that have surrounded this issue.

        Sorry for not being clearer on why I answered.

        1. Wave Post author

          Hi Rae

          I’m so sorry about your personal experience. There’s nothing to bring something like this home to you like having gone through something similar.

          What I should have said was that I have no issue with the gender of the author, but I do have an issue with lies, deceit and fraud that have surrounded this issue.

          Well said.

  21. Jeffrey

    Wave thanks for this well-written and well thought out post. I completely agree with you. The issue for me isn’t that AJ is a woman. The issue for me isn’t that the use of a pseudonym created the impression AJ could be a man. I take very strong issue with the active deception of creating a fake Gay life. I hate when people lie and this case is a lie on a grand scale. After all, how much grander can you get than hiring a man to do your public appearances – the comparison to Milli Vanilli is very good.

    When I pick up a m/m romance by an author with initials for a first name, I just assume that the author is a woman but if the story is well written, the author (male or female) quickly disappears from view. After all, the book isn’t about the author. But in this case, AJ created a FAKE Gay male identity to beat back criticism and for personal gain. The lack of remorse over what was done, is incredible. Look up “sociopath” and you’ll find this is a very good example.

    I’ve never read any of her stuff. I guess nothing caught my attention. There are some authors who’s books I will buy without even knowing anything about the story because they are so good. AJ now has the distinction of being the first author who I will never buy not because of the quality of the writing but because of her deception of the public (and of herself).

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Jeffrey

      I take very strong issue with the active deception of creating a fake Gay life. I hate when people lie and this case is a lie on a grand scale. After all, how much grander can you get than hiring a man to do your public appearances – the comparison to Milli Vanilli is very good.

      If I were a gay man I would be even more pissed at the fake gay identity which was invented simply for profit. BTW I stole the Milli Vanilli comparison from Sean Kennedy. :)

      I guess integrity is not something that is inherent in some folks.

      But in this case, AJ created a FAKE Gay male identity to beat back criticism and for personal gain. The lack of remorse over what was done, is incredible.

      That’s what bothered me – the apology was all about her and what she had suffered but nothing about the people she might have hurt.

      There are many people, including some of AJ’s fellow authors, who see nothing wrong with what she’s done and I guess that’s their prerogative.

  22. Cooper West

    I don’t know AJ, nor read his work, so personally I’m not invested in this. But I’m profoundly bothered by equating “treachery and deceit” with someone who is clearly identifying himself as a transgender person. How many intersexed people are we as a group intimidating and shaming with that? A hell of a lot. I’m not claiming that AJ handled this well at all, but the bottom line in the criticism here is “He doesn’t have a penis! He’s a FRAUD!” which, wow, is that how we are reducing gender identity now? Really?

    AJ should have been honest about being transgender from the start, but then, let’s face it, with the kind of reaction he’s getting now, can we blame ANY transgender person for not wanting to admit that? How many transgender people have we shoved back into the closet with this misplaced smear campaign?

    Blast AJ for lying, absolutely, but let’s NOT blast someone for daring to cross gender lines.

    1. Wave Post author

      Cooper

      I have no idea whether AJ is telling the truth about being transgendered. People who have met her doubt her claim but I don’t know if what she now says is true. It just seems convenient to bring it up at this time when she has been called out for lying about being gay.

      Natasha commented earlier in the post about AJ’s claim of being transgendered and here’s what she said:

      Wave,

      I must add, for those who will say that we are now picking on Transgendered people, AJ is not now or has ever been transgendered. I have confirmation from 5 reliable sources and by sources, these are people who have met her and or spoken to her.

      So your guess is as good as mine. Stay tuned.

  23. Sean Kennedy

    Teddypig, I’m crying on the inside over the fact that you’ll never buy any of my books. Really.

    I don’t know how many times I have to state that my issue with this is not trans related. This is someone who has fabricated a gay male identity, and also created a fake gay romance with another author (who apparently also has faked their gay male identity), and you think there’s nothing wrong with that? This goes beyond pseudonyms, ffs.

  24. sammy2006

    Wave,
    I tried to post over at goodreads on both the YA site and the m/m site–both times I received emails full of fairly expressions of disregard for my opinion and in private emails of explicit hate. If I may:

    I do NOT agree or condone what AJ did.
    I have no opinion on the apology except to say that I’m still unsure how he/she is to craft an apology that EVERYONE can get on board with–that is not meant to be disrespectful–but there are a lot of voices crying out over this issue and they each have their own opinions as to how he/she should apologize.

    Lastly, I did feel that after a bit, the discussion degraded over at goodreads—it truly became a bit of a shit storm. Some of the cries from “Boycott the publisher” to insinuating that other authors—Josh Lanyon included were also lying began to surface. I remarked that this was denigrating into slander and vitriol. I received 3 emails telling me to (and yes I am quoting one of them) “Shut up bitch!”

    I do not hold any of the moderators responsible for those nasty emails BUT I was greatly relieved when the thread was closed.

    What I did receive Wave was emails from several authors who were uneasy and upset by the reactions–they were not CONDONING AJ’s behavior–rather they were appalled at the level of hateful discussion that the thread had been reduced to over the course of the discussion.
    Wave, thank you for letting me post this here–I simply felt that regardless of the evil done, we can still and SHOULD somehow react in a dignified and restrained manner. Telling someone you find their actions hurtful, denigrating to the gay population, and reprehensible is not the same as telling someone they are a lying bitch.

    Again, I am referring to the threads at goodreads not your post here. Just wanted to give you the perspective of someone who requested the conversation be stopped before the damage got out of control.

    Again, Wave–I have great respect for you and for this site–thanks for listening.

      1. sammy2006

        Jaime–forgive me–that reference was in one of the emails I received–I am sorry for declaring it was on the thread–thank your for correcting me.

    1. Wave Post author

      Sammy
      I can assure you that you would not be treated in such a disrespectful manner here. First of all, no one here has your email address (only me) and I’m selling it as we speak. :eek: Kidding!!! Seriously, you won’t be getting any emails from any of the commenters here who agree/disagree with your position.

      I did go over to GR and joined the YA thread but left soon after because it became a free for all.

      What I did receive Wave was emails from several authors who were uneasy and upset by the reactions–they were not CONDONING AJ’s behavior–rather they were appalled at the level of hateful discussion that the thread had been reduced to over the course of the discussion.

      I hope that the discussion here is much more civil Sammy since I don’t allow commenters to insult each other. We can all be polite and state our position without becoming overbearing and rude.

      As you said earlier, it’s difficult to come up with an apology that would have satisfied everyone. What bothered me was that the apology started out all about AJ, very self serving, with what appeared to be no real understanding of what she had done and no real remorse. Then her fans told anyone who dared to write a dissenting comment to f**k off.

      As I said in the post, this will be a 5 day wonder and all will be forgiven except for the bad taste in some people’s mouths. AJ will probably come back bigger than ever.

      As you have probably gathered Sammy, on this site we talk about many contentious topics but I don’t think anyone has every called someone else a “lying bitch”. :shock:

  25. sfrizell

    Hmmm…..I hadn’t heard about this!

    I don’t like to be deliberately lied to – and this sounds like it was deliberate by omission” and misdirection. :my2cents:

    If/when you’re *caught* in a lie, you admit it, apologize and try to fix it. Trying to shift blame is for children.

    Excellent article, Wave!

    1. Wave Post author

      sfrizell

      Thanks.

      I wish that people would just own up to their mistakes and try to correct them or make amends, rather than continue offering excuses for repulsive behaviour.

      1. Elisa

        > repulsive behaviour

        Sorry Wave, I didn’t want to comment even if I read your post since this whole thing has already derailed to a level that is worrying me. But don’t you think that “repulsive behaviour” is a little too much? and you say “I wish that people would just own up to their mistakes and try to correct them or make amends”

        well, you maybe have doubts on AJ’s sincerity on hir post, but zie at least tried (I hope I had it right with the pronoun, it’s even more difficult for me being Italian). You don’t feel zie is sincere in hir apology, fine, but don’t say zie didn’t.

        It’s a little scaring when the drama takes over like this, people tend to forget what was the starting point, and I fear someone can get hurt.

        BTW one of your point is

        > The saddest thing is the thought that younger fans may feel betrayed or misled

        do you really think gay teen readers were influenced by AJ’s books or blogs? With all the love I have for Gay Romance, and for all the Gay Romance publishers out there, I really doubt Aj is the target of young readers. I bet very few if no teenager has ever read AJ and while maybe they had read hir blog on your website, they didn’t know who AJ was and so I don’t think they feel betrayed at all.

        1. Wave Post author

          Elisa.

          You said that kids are not influenced by what someone like AJ writes. There are two levels to this – her books and her posts about bullying and coming out. I would hazard a guess that kids are influenced by posts they read like everything else on the Internet. They can google “bullying” “coming out” “gay bashing” etc. like everyone else and when they find out that the person they thought was discriminated against, like they were, is just another liar they do feel betrayed.

          Her apology was all about AJ, sorry.

  26. Deedles

    I really don’t know where to start here. I’ve been lurking (I really do hate that creepy term) for about a year and a half. I’m kinda computerly challenged. Something made me want to comment about all of this and I wish that something would just shut up. Anyhoo,I’m a black, straight, fifty-five year old woman married to the same man for thirty-six years ( I know,tmi). I’ve always preferred female writers when I used to read Star Trek novels and I’m usually able to tell the gender because of the emotionality of the writing. I’ve never read this author because I don’t read most paranormal things. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want my men to be women I’ve just always loved male bonding in my entertainment.I have five sisters and no brothers so how the heck this happened I don’t know. Anyway, back to the main topic, I love James Patterson’s Alex Cross series. I assumed he was black because the characters sounded so authentic and there was no picture of the dude on the book covers at the time. When I saw that he was white I was a little startled and thought wow. I would have been offended if he had put a picture of a black man on the cover and pretended to be that man and started bad mouthing white writers. I know this sounds dumb but oh well.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Deedles

      Anyway, back to the main topic, I love James Patterson’s Alex Cross series. I assumed he was black because the characters sounded so authentic and there was no picture of the dude on the book covers at the time. When I saw that he was white I was a little startled and thought wow. I would have been offended if he had put a picture of a black man on the cover and pretended to be that man and started bad mouthing white writers. I know this sounds dumb but oh well.

      That is exactly what I’m talking about. This author had the good sense to show that although he wrote a book starring a black man he was not going to hide who he was be pretending to be black. That would have pissed me off royally.

      AJ went a different route and faked being a gay man for years to make his books appear to be more authentic than those written by female writers.

      Thanks for coming out of lurkdom and I hope you will comment again Deedles.

      You have been married to the same person for 36 years? WOW. :shock: Congratulations.

  27. Gaycrow

    I’ve been following this on other sites for a while now.

    What I’m baffled about is the fact that even when people are told OVER AND OVER AGAIN that the issue isn’t about AJ’s use of a male pseudonym, but the fact that she lied about her private life, and used that false persona “to demean and browbeat her fellow female authors, as well as those who criticized her work” (to quote you, Wave), they still keep harping on about how it’s okay to use false names.

    YES!! We all agree that that’s okay. The rest is not okay. I don’t see how anyone can justify that at all.

    Are these people being deliberately obtuse? It’s so clear to me. I just cannot see how anyone can condone what this writer has done. :???:

    1. Teddypig

      “to demean and browbeat her fellow female authors, as well as those who criticized her work”

      That is not what is being played up here and elsewhere in this witch hunt they want her for lying to her readers like she owed them the truth about her private life and her sexuality.

      1. Gaycrow

        I think IF WRITERS CHOOSE TO LET PEOPLE INTO THEIR PRIVATE LIVES (which of course they have no obligation to do) they do owe their readers the truth.

        Little white lies are okay in some circumstances. Elaborate lies perpetuated over years and years are a different matter altogether, imho.

    2. Wave Post author

      Hi Gaye
      I don’t know how differently to word my comments that this is not about the use of a male pseudonym. Thank you for getting it on the first try. :)

  28. Ann Somerville

    I think this is the first time I’ve ever approved of anything you’ve written. Well done, and well done to commenters here who have kept their minds on the actual issues. It’s been hard to do that with so many smokescreens being thrown up.

    I would take issue with one thing – regardless of whether you believe Llewellyn is trans (and whether other people can ‘tell’ isn’t the issue since you can’t tell by looking what’s in someone’s heart), it’s more respectful to *other* trans people to take the claim at face value. Llewellyn has plenty to answer for – don’t give him the accusation of transphobia against his critics to hide behind.

  29. Jamie Fessenden

    As a gay man (really), I can’t say I’m particularly upset by this scandal. I can see points on both sides. But what disturbs me most is the contempt people seem to have for AJ’s assertion that he is trans. Since I don’t know him personally, I’m taking him at his word on this. I’ve had too many trans friends who have had to deal with being told they’re not really who they say they are, that I don’t feel comfortable saying that I “know” whether someone is trans or not. It’s up to them.

    1. Jaime

      Well here’s thing for me Jamie….if she lied about being a gay man, she could be lying about being transgender too! Why would she not come out at the beginning of her writing career as transgender….a lot of readers of m/m romance are woman who are obviously accepting people if we read m/m in the first place.

      1. Ann Somerville

        “Why would she not come out at the beginning of her writing career as transgender’

        Why should he? I don’t need to know the gender or sexuality of any author. Coming out as trans, gay, whatever is a deeply personal decision. Llewellyn may not even have identified himself as trans at that point, but knew he had these feelings he couldn’t make sense of entirely.

        Demanding anyone ‘come out’ over their gender or sexuality is not something we as a community or individuals should do. It’s difficult when you suspect, as people did with Llewellyn, that a fast one is being pulled, but so long as an author isn’t outright lying by pretending they are a gay man when they identify in reality as a woman, ‘No comment’ is more than anyone deserves.

        But this is where the practice of using male names in a genre which writes about a disprivileged minority, really does become harmful in so many ways. It’s harmless if you’re writing het romance, or thrillers, or detective novels. It’s not harmless when you cloak yourself in a borrowed identity and that identity is one which struggles for its own voice to be heart at the best of times.

        1. Jaime

          Ann, I don’t need to know gender/sexuality either…but AJ choose to tell everyone she was a gay man, if she would of said she was transgender(if she is)instead of lying then none of this shit would be happening.

          1. Bryant

            Your point is exactly right, Jaime. What’s more, AJ made up “real life” stories about this supposed gay male author, and even admits to using an “avatar”–as she calls him–to represent her at a book signing.

            These seem to be facts that Teddypig and Ann Somerville can’t quite grasp.

    2. Wave Post author

      Hi Jamie

      You’re absolutely correct that no one but the individual knows whether he or she is trans. This is what I said to Cooper when I passed on Natasha’s comment:

      I have no idea whether AJ is telling the truth about being transgendered. People who have met her doubt her claim but I don’t know if what she now says is true. It just seems convenient to bring it up at this time when she has been called out for lying about being gay.

  30. Adara

    I am not personally invested in this. I’ve never read any of AJ’s articles or stories, aside from the one written for the anthology this summer for GoodReads MMR group.

    I admit to posting on AJ’s blog before I found out what the “real” furor was about – the public persona and not the gender identity. What I said at the time was “The rest doesn’t matter.”

    I debated posting this. I debated taking that statement back. But after writing this post for more than an hour now, I’ve realized that I was right in the first place.

    We are each responsible for our own personal mental health. Every one of us.

    Think about that.

    Several have railed about the responsibility that AJ had to others for his public persona. What about others’ own responsibility for their investiture in his public persona? I agree that duplicity is irresponsible because we KNOW that others over the Internet will take us at our word for lack of evidence to the contrary. BUT, the rest of us should know to take such things with a grain of salt.

    I do NOT believe that AJ set out at the time to create this monstrosity of an issue. And it is human nature to want to protect ourselves. Hindsight 20/20 and all that.

    Do others feel duped? Sure. Do they have a right to demand an apology? No.

    Unless he’s a sociopath (and no, I don’t believe that), I’m sure there is not one of us who could be harder on AJ for his choices than he is on himself at this time. I sincerely doubt that he wouldn’t be remorseful if those choices resulted in someone else’s pain.

    AJ has made an apology on his blog. Some believe it insincere and wish to denounce it – that is their choice, though I find it distasteful for them to say so, particularly with any venom. If it bothers you so, step away from the situation entirely; divest yourself from it. That’s the best course of action.

  31. thelastaerie

    I honestly hope this blog doesn’t turn into a Dear Author… Enough of this gossiping. If AJ’s stories are good (which I don’t know, I just never read any), they are still good stories, no matter what she does or what kind of a person she is. How many celebrities claim being bullied or sexually assaulted just to sell more books? it’s bad taste and yeah, trivialises real victims suffering, but so are witch hunting and outing people.

    And I still watch Roman Polanski’s films. It’s about their works.

  32. Buda

    Wave, thank you for this post. I read AJ’s apology post yesterday and just thought it sucked that (s)he would have been exposed that way. I admit to not being a fan, having only read one book I didn’t care for. Still, I was sympathetic to his/her situation. (I don’t have the slightest clue which pronoun to use here!)

    What changed my mind and disturbs me so greatly about the situation is to learn that this author denigrated women writers as being somehow inferior to the men, all while being a woman herself. And that is what I know you’re upset about. (Not the genderfuck, because, frankly, who cares? I know we share some absolute favorite characters [Ty & Zane, Matt & Jared, Jake & Tor, etc] who have been penned by women. And outing supposedly-male writers as female is tired in 2011.) In my mind, it is those deliberate and calculated attacks on the women writers for which the author should be held accountable. The rest is just distraction.

    I’m not sure how this will play out in the general scheme of things, but it doesn’t make me any more or less interested in buying AJ Llewellyn books than my one experience reading one did.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Buda

      Thank you for commenting.

      Dissing your colleagues is surely a great way to make friends. However many authors are supporting Aj and I applaud them for doing that.

      I guess the bottom line is if someone was a fan of this author before this happened he/she will continue to be a fan.

      As for the pronoun, I have been using “she” and “her” but I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

  33. kiracee

    Wave, thank you for a clear, thoughtful, rational, well-written post. I feel you made it plain it was AJ’s actions you found reprehensible, not his/her gender or his/her pseudonym. I applaud both your courage and your restraint.

    1. Wave Post author

      Thanks Kiracee. I’m glad I made it clear that I was talking about AJ’s actions not the fact that she used a pseud. Very few authors in this genre write under their own names and I consider that either courageous or foolhardy. :)

  34. charmed

    This has been a very interesting discussion to read. With a lot of good points being made. What ever people’s ultimate opinion, whether it is that it’s his/her buisness and nothing else matters, or that he/she put her/his self out their so it is and she/he has a responsibility to the greater community. Whether it should just be about the quality of the work or a personality contest, the bottum line is that in buisness people vote with there money whatever the critiria happens to be. People buy stuff all the time with motives whether concously or not that have nothing to do with the actual quality of the product that’s just the way it is. People get feelings about certain brands or publishers (or authors) and what those brands represent to people and why they buy or don’t buy them says more about them and their values and the underlying social currents then it does about those brands or wheather they are good brands or bad brands.
    there are a lot of different issues floating around in these discusions and how strongly you feel about them personaly would of course influence where you come down on the issue at large. Gay issues, Transgender issues, issues of privacy, issues of integrity, issues of exploitation, issues of vissibility. People will vote with there credit cards and we will get to see whether people really care or not based on the money.
    Me personally? Here’s where i fall, I give my whole hearted support to AJ in the search for a personal identity whatever it may be and i will let him/her know that in an appropriate way. Will I buy His/her books? No, the only tangible way i can disaprove of this type of marketing is to not reward it with my money.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Charmed

      Very balanced response. As you said, there are many issues being discussed, some of which I didn’t expect.

      Your main point that people should vote with their wallets is an excellent one.

      I hope that AJ finds what s/he is looking for in terms of a personal identity.

      Thank you for commenting.

  35. Linda C

    Wave, I agree 100% with kiracee.

    I have read the various threads about this controvsary and the main thing that disturbs me is the vitrolic response to people’s opinions, especially on the Goodreads threads.

    I don’t personally care wrote a story as long as it’s good and holds my attention. However, when I read non-fiction I expect it to be non-fiction, not fiction. If you use a pen name and use another gender, fine. I can get behind it. If you fabricate a life and downgrade others, I cannot get behind that and I’ll choose not to buy your books. End of problem.

    But I am very disturbed by the viciousness of some the opinions. State your opinion, like Wave did, but don’t bash others for their opinions.

  36. Reggie

    The actions of this author were unprofessional and inappropriate. Thank you Wave for fighting for professional standards. Yes, Hollywood and Sports have already given up this fight too,with a “shrug shoulders” response.

    As a person concerned with Mental Health, I would like to say that speaking of suicide is not the response of a healthy stress response. Speaking of suicide thoughts is not to assume the deed. Whether a statement of depression or a method of attention seeking, it IS an indication of pain and a problematic behavioral response system.
    I hope he gets the objective support he needs to grow through this.

    I am one of those people who would prefer NOT to know the personal life of my entertainment. It is much easier for me to objectify their product that way. LOL Yeah, I would walk out and embarrass my family before I would watch a Roman Polanski film. I also Cheer LOUDLY when Ben Roethlisberger is intercepted. So I’m not perfect, but I can laugh at myself and have some drop of objectivity.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Reggie

      Thanks for commenting.

      As a person concerned with Mental Health, I would like to say that speaking of suicide is not the response of a healthy stress response. Speaking of suicide thoughts is not to assume the deed. Whether a statement of depression or a method of attention seeking, it IS an indication of pain and a problematic behavioral response system.
      I hope he gets the objective support he needs to grow through this.

      I hope that she does too.

      You don’t like Roman Polanski? :)

  37. Wave Post author

    Because I’ll be away for the weekend I will have to cut off the comments since I don’t want to return on Sunday and find 100 comments.

    I will try to respond to the comments that are here now.

    Thanks Guys for weighing in. I promise no posts from me for at least another 3 weeks.

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