Here's what we know:
The big stuff:
- Married to a solicitor (1)- Lives in southern England (1)
- Worked in law, journalism, numismatics (1)
- Bit of a crafty geek: building things of wood, metal (1)
- First published (as Parker) in 1998 (1)
The more specific stuff:
- Raised in Vermont (3)
The conflicting stuff:
- Male! (4)- Female! (5)
Stuff I can add myself:
- Based on an inscription in one of my books, KJ Parker can use a semi-colon correctly (6)- Parker gets both American and English idioms; something that comes across naturally in the work (7)
Oh, and the bit that everyone takes for granted:
- KJ Parker is a pseudonym (8)
However, we also know a lot about Parker from the primary sources. What we know about Parker appears in the books - the time in a foundry, the professional background, even the numismatics (The Folding Knife). So what if we stretch this a bit more. From the Scavenger Trilogy and Purple & Black, as well as the short stories, there's quite a bit in there about very old, very formal and very posh universities - including several instances of a middle class protagonist being surrounded by the scions of the upper crust. So why not put Parker at Oxford or Cambridge? (9)
Another fascinating twist - "A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong" - involves a creator (a composer) publishing the work of another composer, and feeling imprisoned, then freed by the experience. (10) Following on from that, KJ Parker's real name is, probably, a published writer - not a journalist, but an author. Following the "Birdsong" theory, the "real" Parker was possibly already famous before the first "Parker" book, but now "Parker" is the more popular name. Controversial! (11)
So, in conclusion:
I have no idea. (12)
(1): About the author, UK editions of Parker's books(2): Two sources - first, taking the Tom Holt/KJ Parker interview at face value. (http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/summer-2010/interview-with-k-j-parker-by-tom-holt/) Second, a statement from William Schafer (Parker's publisher at Subterranean) declaring that Parker absolutely was not Holt.
(3): Have to admit, this one is new to me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K._J._Parker#cite_note-1 - but I'm not sure why an Australian SF/F magazine, no matter how reputable, would have/share more detailed information than anyone else. Incidentally, SF/F authors from Vermont that kinda fit the profile? Michael Stackpole (hmm) and Piers Anthony (YIKES).
(4): http://www.sffworld.com/interview/85p0.html - and many other reviews
(5): About the author notes on the Bragelonne editions of Parker's Fencer trilogy. (#YesIhavetheFrencheditions and #noIamnotcompletelyobsessed)
(6): Seriously, that removes, what, 99.885% of the English-speaking world?
(7): No, really. Anne spotted this, and it makes sense.
(8): Weirdly, not written down in a lot of places - but it is there on the US The Company, as well as in the Parker/Holt interview
(9): Holt, for the record, is a graduate of Wadham College, Oxford. The two say they met at their local blacksmith's shop, which could've taken place while they were students...
(10): It is a bit more complex than that, but, whatever. It is free online, go read it yourself. (http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/winter-2011/fiction-a-small-price-to-pay-for-birdsong-by-k-j-parker/)
(11): A bit like The Dark Half, really.
(12): And you know what? I kind of don't want to, either. Not to go all "death of the author", but KJ Parker's work has made Parker my favourite author - there's nothing that Parker him/herself could add into the mix to make me appreciate the books more.
I believe KJ Parker is none other than J.K Rowling. My reasoning... KJ is an obvious reversal of JK. Harry Potter was first published in 1995. In order to avoid the backlash of writing other things from hordes of unstable preteen psychos, Rowling published under Parker in 1998. I fully expect Rowling to admit this fact when her new adult novel is released by Little, Brown in 2013!
Robert Stanek (Bastard has not read any K.J. Parker books)
This falls much closer to the wild-ass guess than anything else. I blatantly ignore the known ‘evidence’ discussed here and elsewhere and use lots of second-hand ‘hearsay’.
My guess on the ID of K.J. Parker is that he is no other than best-selling author R.A. Salvatore. I’ve ‘heard’ from a couple of people who are friends with Salvatore that he writes other fantasy novels under a pseudonym, and that pseudonym is not known. I’ve been told that it would likely be a surprising revelation based on the fiction that Salvatore is best known for. And…this is the most damning evidence of all…both Parker and Salvatore publish under initials – K.J. and R.A., respectively.
Is K.J. Parker a man or a woman?
This is a question that seems to come up in online debates from time to time. Usually it ends up with a teneous conclusion that Tom Holt is K.J. Parker. I tend to think it’s a little bit more complex than that. I will come to my theory later, but first I’ll look into the relationship between K.J. Parker and Tom Holt.
That there is a close relationship between K.J. Parker and Tom Holt is clear from this interview: http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/summer-2010/interview-with-k-j-parker-by-tom-holt/
Here’s an important passage:
TH: For the record, we’ve known each other for years, you showed me your first novel, I showed it to my agent, he sold it to Orbit. Is that about right?
Of course if Tom Holt is K.J. Parker, this is completely made up. But let’s look at the two authors biographies. (Some of this is also in the interview.)
According to Holt’s official biography, http://www.tom-holt.com/about.htm , he’s married, has a daughter, and lives in Somerset in the UK. According to Parker’s official biography (the one printed in the books), Parker lives in southern England.
So, they both live in the same part of England. Doesn’t really prove anything, but there is more.
Holt has been a solicitor...K.J. Parker is married to a solicitor. Which is basically the basis of my theory. Tom Holt is married to K.J. Parker. This would explain why, as in the quote above, Holt read Parker’s first book and showed it to his agent.
There is some more circumstantial evidence to supprt this. Namely Tom Holt’s books. I have the first six “Tom Holt Omnibus” volumes. They contain twelve novels. Five of the novels are copyrighted to Kim Holt. And four of the volumes, 1/3/4/6, are copyrighted to Tom and Kim Holt. So it seems that they are at least two different people. And my theory is that K.J. Parker is Kim Holt, Kim J. Parker may even be her maiden name. Parker does say in the interview sited above that “Unfortunately, I was KJP while JKR was still nursing a lukewarm latte in the coffee bars of Edinburgh.” The first K.J. Parker book was published in 1998.
An interesting aside to my theory, is that Tom and Kim Holt may have functioned as a husband and wife writing team, much like David and Leigh Eddings. They may still do, maybe all Tom Holt and K.J. Parker books are written by them together. Or maybe it even could be that Tom Holt is a front, and Kim Holt has written all the books. In the interview Parker says: “I don’t do interviews or publicity stuff with, well, strangers, essentially. Not the world’s most articulate person, with people I don’t know.”
I could off course be incorrect, and Tom Holt is really the man behind the K.J. Parker pseudonym. Giving his wife, or it may even be his daughter, copyright credit on his books for financial/inheritance reasons. But from the evidence I have, I’ll go with K.J. Parker being Kim Holt, Tom Holt’s wife.