So, there was a NAWG award ceremony at the weekend and, hearing nothing, I assumed I didn’t get anywhere in the two categories I was shortlisted for: Romantic Fiction and SciFi & Fantasy. However…they posted photos from the event and I thought I saw my name on a trophy, so I did what anyone would do: I tweeted them to ask the results. They wouldn’t tell me! They just said that winners would be contacted by email. I wasn’t, so assumed (as I do) that I was wrong. Yesterday, after a scary impromptu dentist trip (more about that later), I got an email from my creative writing tutor to say there was an award there, with my name on it. I won the Romantic Fiction award, with my story ‘Wingman’ (and was second in SF&F). I was so pleased as the piece had some lovely characters and I almost felt like THEY deserved a win!
On to the scary dentist trip – not so much about the appointment (which was stressful due to my phobia but made easier by the nice staff): people ask what I do. I hum and hah because I don’t really do anything and then I finally say ‘writer’. Curiosity gets the better of people and they Google me. They did not find the right me. Two problems occur when someone looks me up: this is a pen name. When I won my publishing deal, I didn’t want to write as me, so chose the names of my pets at the time. My dogs, Holly and Amber, and my rescue budgie, Harvey – Holly A. Harvey. Now, I’m not a (complete) idiot. I didn’t want a name that another (better?) writer had, so I went on to Amazon and checked out authors called Holly A. Harvey. None! Yay! What I should have done was Googled…but people didn’t Google so much then. Had I done so, I would have seen the name without the A and the connection to a serial killer. You couldn’t write it… I got some interesting emails in my early days.
The other problem is that people Google my real name. You’d have to trawl the search results for quite some time to come up with articles that connect my pen name and actual name – mainly articles in the news to do with anything from M.E. (unsurprisingly) to dogs (we have a few) and I’m even referred to in The Times, as a writer, in an article on Reverse S.A.D. (no, my family have never suggested that I’m a ‘vampire’).
What I should do is give out one of the many (oh so many) business cards that my sister had printed for me when my first novel was released. There were 5,000 (can you tell my sister and I are opposites and she is the more optimistic of the two of us?) I think I still have 4,995. The thing is, I still feel like I’m pretending to be a writer. I’m half way through book 3, have two published novels, several awards, many pieces in anthologies or published online and I still feel like a fake. I admire people with a lot of confidence but it doesn’t come easy to me, to have faith in my abilities. I always feel like an outsider and that I should say, ‘I’m a writer – not one you’ve heard of’ when I’m asked what I do. But I’m certainly not a serial killer (although I’ve killed a character or two) nor did I write a book about Lyme disease nor am I a singer. I am really not a singer.