Since starting on this path to being an author, I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching and self examination. In grad school, I spent a long time wondering whether I was cut out to be a scientist, how much I wanted it, and if it was normal how much more pleasure I got out of writing in my downtime compared to actually doing labwork. It got to the point that as I finished my PhD., I spent a few months wondering whether to cap off my scientific career there and move into a writing-based profession (like Science Writer, which is a thing, an insanely cool thing), or to continue in the standard academic model and move into a post-doc.
I chose the post-doc, and I don’t regret that decision at all, in part because it crystallized for me that a life of tailoring my scientific questions in pursuit of vanishing federal grant money was not a life I wanted to lead. And the more I saw of the life of a scientist paying for the opportunity to do their science by being a college professor, the less I wanted that life–or that quantity of stress–for myself.
So, I knew that being an author was for me. But this isn’t about my decision to leave science, I’ve done that post here.
This is about who I am as an author. Partly that means what do I write about, and partly that asks, who even am I?
Who Am I?
Much in the way that Inigo Montoya is not left handed, I am not Matthew Shean.
This is a post I meant to write a year ago, started, and abandoned. So let’s get back to it.
Matthew Shean is a pseudonym. Considering that at this point there aren’t a whole lot of people that are reading Here I Go, and almost every one of them is a personal friend or family member, it is not news to anyone reading this. For those that don’t know me, an introduction followed by, for those who do, an explanation.
Hi, I’m Matt.
I originally hail from New Jersey, but I’ve lived throughout the northeastern U.S. from Philly to Boston, with decent chunks of time spent in Alabama, Hawaii, and West Virginia. I currently live in (on?) Long Island. I’m married–you can call my amazing wife Di. She’s a scientist/college professor, successfully living the life I fled. We’ve got 2 kids I’ve mentioned a few times (kidlet 1 and kidlet 2) that are both in grade school. I’ve got a Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering from one Ivy League, and a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from another. I’ll be forty in under a week.
So Why the Pseudonym?
First and foremost, my birthname is very common. There are already at least three published novelists writing with my name, and one of them quite successfully. As someone struggling to make a name for himself, that’s not the kind of added competition I need.
As an author, I want someone to be able to find my website with a simple Google search. I want to be easy to find. If I am but one of hundreds with my name, including prominent photographers and Olympic swimmers, among others, then how will my web-presence stand out? It is hard for crowds of adoring fans to beat a path to your door if it is buried in the midst of a repository of identical doors, a la Monsters Inc.’s climax scene.
I get that Shean isn’t exactly a rare name on its own, and certainly not unheard of. But Shean is a family name, and I adore my family. And there aren’t many prominent Matthew Sheans out there. Except, hopefully soon, me.
But who is Matthew Shean?
I can’t answer that for you, I’m still figuring it out for myself. But I can say this – I come from a long line of born storytellers, and I have a ton of them lined up and waiting for their turn at the campfire. I love the intersection of science, technology, and humanity. I love taking ideas of the fantastic–new inventions, new medicines, rare diseases, bizarre people–and combining them in different jigsaw arrangements. That is where stories come from, and that is where science fiction is born. That’s where I live, it’s my playground, and I want to share it with you.
So won’t you come and play?
Here I Go,