I’ve Got a Secret

By Yolanda Wallace

I have a confession to make. For the past year, I have been living a double life. But I think it’s time for me to come clean.

Deep breath in. Let it out slowly. Okay, here goes.

I am Mason Dixon.

If you’re saying, “Who?”, you must not have read “Mason’s” book Date with Destiny,Date with Destiny 300 DPI which was recently nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in the Lesbian Romance category.

If you’re saying, “Really?”, I have two responses for you: 1) Thank you and 2) surprise!!!!

I didn’t set out to become Mason. I set out to write a book about an African-American woman who works at a bank in Savannah. Since I am an African-American woman who works at a bank in Savannah, I didn’t want anyone who might read the book to think it was autobiographical. (With the bank robbery element thrown in, I definitely didn’t want my employers to think that way, either). Thus the idea for Mason was born.

A funny thing happened along the way, though. Writing as Mason instead of Yolanda felt liberating. It gave me permission to explore different characters and themes and play with language in a way I had never done before.

Now—in my mind, at least—Mason has become her own brand. A writer who tells stories featuring a predominantly African-American cast of characters, which you don’t often see in lesfic.

I chose Mason Dixon as a pen name because if Date with Destiny didn’t turn out to be a one-book lark, I intended to set all of Mason’s subsequent novels in the South. But you know me. The motto for my writing is “Go between the covers and take a trip around the world.” I like to move around the globe too much to stick to one region of the country. Accordingly, Mason’s next book won’t be set in the South but in Baltimore.

Charm City, Charm City 300 DPIwhich will be released in August, features Raquel Overstreet and Bathsheba Morris—a bare-knuckles boxer who works for a drug dealer and an undercover cop determined to bring Raquel’s employer and everyone for works for him to justice. Doesn’t sound anything like Month of Sundays, does it? I liked the characters so much when I completed the first draft of Charm City, I’m actually contemplating a first for me, a (gasp!) sequel.

I shouldn’t say that too loud, though. I haven’t received the notes from my editor on Charm City yet. Depending on what she says, I might have to adjust my rosy outlook. Right now, though, I’m flying high.

The Lammy nomination for Date with Destiny came as a complete surprise. I’m in with some really heavy hitters—Lynn Ames, Gerri Hill, D. Jordan Redhawk, Ann McMan and Salem West, Tracey Richardson, Karin Kallmaker, and Bold Strokes’ own Andrea Bramhall, D. Jackson Leigh, and Nell Stark—so I sincerely doubt I’ll win, but it feels wonderful to have something that began as a fun experiment receive the honor of being judged one of the ten best lesbian romances that was published last year. I’ve been gobsmacked and incredibly humbled by that notion ever since I received the e-mail containing the list of finalists. Never in a million years did I expect Mason’s name to be included. Then again, I didn’t expect my name to be included last year for Month of Sundays, either. Talk about your pleasant surprises.

The only bad part of this whole thing? Deciding which of my personas should tackle a story idea once it comes to me. Should I write this one as Mason or myself? It’s a good problem to have, I suppose, though my poor partner may be a trifle confused by all the costume changes. But it keeps things interesting, which I hope can be said for any book I write, no matter which name appears on the cover.

20 Responses to “I’ve Got a Secret”


  1. 1 S.A. April 8, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    Kudos on the two successful “brands” (and on the Lammy nomination)! I know other writers have different pen names for different genres (e.g., Radclyffe/Raand) – and I think it makes good sense since it allows you as the author to have markedly different styles and/or subject matter in your writing without throwing off your readers. (Another lesbian author I read made a major shift in subject matter for one book years after being a successfully published author; she didn’t change her pen name, and the new book caught me completely by surprise. I actually returned it because it wasn’t at all what I had expected from her…) Keep up the good work!

    Like

  2. 4 Beth April 8, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Congratulations on the Lammy nomination. Keep writing, whether it be Yolanda or Mason, and I’ll be among the many lining up for your next book.

    Like

  3. 6 Erin Saluta April 8, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    Interesting! I’ve always wondered why authors choose a pen name.

    Like

  4. 7 Joanne April 8, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    I’m so excited about this! Congrats! I’m a huge fan! Thank you for writing books that represent someone who looks like me!

    Like

  5. 9 Widdershins April 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    An identity crisis – with benefits!

    Like

  6. 11 nancy April 8, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    Congratulations! I am a huge fan of ” both” of you.

    Like

  7. 13 Devlyn April 8, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    Congratulations on your nomination, we’ll deserved in my opinion. While I was unaware of MD and YW connection it all makes sense now. Thanks for sharing with us and good luck with the Lammys.

    Like

  8. 16 Renee Bess April 9, 2014 at 6:06 AM

    Congratulations on the nomination, Yolanda! Is this your first book with African American main characters?

    Like

    • 17 Yolanda Wallace April 9, 2014 at 7:16 AM

      I always try to include African-American characters in each of my books, but, yes, Date with Destiny and Charm City are my first two to feature African-American main characters. Hopefully, they won’t be the last!

      Like

  9. 19 Kim April 10, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    Well, now that I know it’s “you” I have good reason to pick up “Date with Destiny”. Shame on me for not having branched out before but…I like what I like! It’s true that we often pick books based upon authors with whom we are comfortable…so thanks for the revelation. Congrats!

    Like


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