This in itself is not a big deal – people write under open names all the time – and there’s a long history of women writing under male names to get their work out there – look at George Elliott.
People often establish a separate pen name for other purposes as well – for instance, when an author writes erotica, and then wants to publish something in the YA market. A pen name is a great way to keep the two lines separate.
But we’re in an era now when it’s increasingly easy to find out almost anything about almost anyone, so anyone using a pen name runs a high risk of being discovered.
Again, generally not a big deal so far. But then we get to catfishing.
Catfishing, popularized by the movie Catfish and the MTV series of the same name, means using a false online profile to interact with others, often resulting in a relationship. In the movie, an older married woman pretended to be young and single to get involved with the documentary maker who filmed it. In this week’s case, a QSF friend of ours was apparently hurt badly by this person’s actions that went well beyond using a pen name as an author on a few books.
So my question today – are pen names still viable in the internet age? Is it ethical to “out” someone writing under a pen name? How far is too far when assuming a made-up identity?