Being Ian Steadman (Deceased)

Hello. My name's Dan Coxon, and for the last two years I've been writing under a pen name.

Mind you, many of you already know that. The Ian Steadman nom de plume hasn't exactly been a secret. I've talked with numerous people about it, posted Steadman stories on Facebook and Twitter, even read 'as' Ian Steadman at FantasyCon (and elsewhere). For a while I even considered printing an 'I am the Real Ian Steadman' T-shirt.

So why bother? At its core, it was about separating what I perceived as two separate strands of my work. I've been writing 'literary' short fiction for a while, with several credits in well regarded magazines and anthologies; I also copy-edit literary novels (and local history, and biographies, and a host of other topics) for a number of publishers. On the flip side, I write weird horror fiction and uncanny ghost stories, some of which may feature gratuitous people-eating. It made sense, at least at the time, to keep the two separate. Let's be frank about it: I didn't want the weird stuff contaminating my more 'serious' work. That's how I saw it at the time, anyway.

I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong, and time has shown me why. Over the course of those two years, what I saw as two separate strands have come closer and closer together, so that they're now so entwined even I can't pick them apart. My copy-editing and proofreading work includes clients like Titan Books and Flame Tree Press, I'm now editor at Unsung Stories - all purveyors of the weird, the strange and the horrific. My writing is still sometimes clearly one thing or the other, but more often that not it's somewhere in between, straddling the literary and the horror camps.

Then there's the Shirley Jackson Awards nomination. As someone has already pointed out, it makes sense to 'cash in' (no actual cash involved) on the raised profile it brings. But more importantly, it showed me how false the division I'd imposed was. Here I am, nominated for an award for editing an anthology (the 'day job') that included both literary and horror stories, all under one strange banner. If I can break down boundaries between the genres when it came to other people's stories (and it's something I've explicitly tried to do with The Shadow Booth), why the hell can't I do it with my own?

So, as of about... now, I'm retiring the Ian Steadman pen name. Ian is no more. This is an ex-Ian Steadman. The published stories will remain under his name, but you'll notice that they're all now included on my list of published works on this site. The last Steadman story was 'The Sea Wall', published earlier this week in Ulthar Press's Hell's Empire anthology - from here onwards, I'm me. Just me: editor, copy-editor, proofreader, writer.

Literary, horror, weird, and anything in between.