Monday, October 18, 2010

Who the hell is Alix Bosco?

This morning on his always-excellent Beattie's Book Blog, my fellow Ngaio Marsh Award judge Graham "Bookman" Beattie has asked a question that has been puzzling many in the New Zealand books world for over a year now; just who the hell is 'Alix Bosco'?

Beattie has his suspicions, based on the little we know about Bosco, who is of course the author of the critically-acclaimed CUT & RUN, one of the three finalists for the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, and this year's follow-up SLAUGHTER FALLS.

He lays out some possible reasons for someone "to decide to use a pseudonym and go to some lengths to prevent people finding out her/his real identity," before revealing his "hottest suspect at the moment" (see here) - someone who hasn't featured much in the various debates that have flared up in the comments section here on Crime Watch in the past few months.

So, the list of 'suspects' lengthens. Beattie, like me, does lean towards it being a female writer - this is a 'gut feel' on my part based more on the writing style, perspective and content, and particularly the way of dealing with violence and the issues covered etc, in the two Anna Markunas books thusfar, rather than just because the pseudonym and main character are female - although one of the most strident commenters on Crime Watch has repeatedly assured us that playwright Greg McGee is in fact Alix Bosco (and there is certainly some circumstantial support for this, as there is with other suspects). I've also heard the McGee rumour elsewhere too, not just on the Internet.

Other than McGee, potential 'suspects' here on Crime Watch, from commenters, include established novelist and former social worker Rosie Scott, television writer Maxine Fleming, and former Prime Minister Helen Clark (Bernadette with the scoop there).

Rather than a journalist (Beattie's "hottest suspect"), although that's certainly a very strong possibility, my gut tells me it's someone closely involved, or who runs in the same circles, with New Zealand television, especially those involved with the TV show Outrageous Fortune. The speed at which CUT & RUN was picked up for a TV adaptation, with Robyn Malcolm tabbed as Markunas (which does seem ideal casting by the way), and the fact that Malcolm gave the quote for the first book - meaning she'd read the manuscript or a very advance version (prior to the covers being printed - my advance copy already had her quote on it)...

Fleming would fit that profile (apparently she has been involved as a writer with Outrageous Fortune), as would others like series creators/lead writers James Griffin (if it's not a female) and Rachel Lang. But this is of course all supposition.

So, who do you think Alix Bosco is? You can read my 9mm interview with Bosco (done via email via a third party, to protect his/her identity) here - one of the few interviews s/he has given.

Please share your thoughts with Beattie on his blog too.


  1. Craig - This really is an interesting question. I'm not sure, of course, who Alix Bosco is, but you know - that's part of the appeal. It adds to the mystery. I'm interested, of course, in finding out Bosco's real identity, but part of me will not be overly unhappy if I never do. Life should have some mysteries...

  2. I agree. Does it matter who the author is? Surely what's more important is that the novels are fantastic.

  3. I agree that the biggest thing is how good the books are, not who the author is. But it's certainly interesting to consider who the author might be, especially when crime fiction fans aren't able to read many/any articles about the author, or meet them on tour or book signings etc.

    Some readers read just to read, but there are many who enjoy all the 'ancillary' aspects, like meeting authors, reading about them, book signings, attending festivals, etc. But with much of those opportunities removed when an author is anonymous (some pseudonymed authors of course still do all these things), then the next best thing is to have these types of discussions and debates, especially for those who like thinking about this real life mystery...

  4. I think a pseudonym is an alternative and clever ploy by the author to get publicity. Maybe. I’m not really that fussed who it is, however, I do like to read the biographies of authors and how that might affect or contribute to their writing. I also like to attend book signings and festivals as you mention above.

  5. I must admit I am in the 'don't give a toss' camp for this and other pseudonym debates (such as the one over who is Canada's Inger Ash Wolfe?). Mostly this is because I am not really into all the ancillary stuff you mention - I just like to read and enjoy the books. There's also a little of me that wonders if such cases are people who consider themselves too good to be crime fiction authors under their own name. I don't have any evidence that this is the case with Bosco but always thought John Banville using a pseudonym to write crime fiction was a little snobbish.