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The Pen Name (A Supernatural Thriller) Paperback – 26 Aug 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (26 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1492222828
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492222828
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

About the Author


David Jacob Knight has written under many pseudonyms during his writing career, each with their own rich backstory and fake lives. He has endured great hardship with a past publisher, and this experience--along with the difficulties of maintaining multiple personas--has shaped the narrative of his first book, THE PEN NAME. You can interact with DJK on Facebook ( and Twitter (


Jacob Kier and D.L. Snell are the writing team behind David Jacob Knight. They consider themselves ghostwriters, not because it's an accurate term for what they do, but because it sounds cooler than co-authors. Kier is the founder of Permuted Press, and Snell is a critically acclaimed author from the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at their websites, and

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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brett H TOP 50 REVIEWER on 16 Nov. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
You are not being paranoid if they really are out to get you. This is the dilemma facing self published author, Ben Little, for much of this book and it is shared by the reader. The boundaries between reality and the delusions of a diseased mind are constantly challenged, and for much of this story Ben is drawn into a surreal world which simply defies credibility. Is he in the midst of a far reaching conspiracy and if so what is the purpose of it all?

Ben and his family are struggling financially with the added burden of expensive medical intervention being required for his disabled son. When a generous offer arrives from Jack Fleischer, a bestselling author, to co write a book, Ben naturally jumps at it. Being railroaded into signing the huge tome like contract without proper scrutiny, he quickly finds that he has committed himself to a contract with far reaching consequences and which goes way beyond what he could reasonably have expected. He soon finds himself on a rollercoaster of a ride which threatens his life, his health and his sanity as the pressure is on to finish the book he is contracted to co write.

As an interesting little sideshow to the main event there are a large number of Stephen King references within the narrative. Some are acknowledged and some are very obvious, such as the Germanic version of King's name, Stefan Koenig, which was one of Fleischer's previous names. However, there are plenty of others for Stephen King aficionados to spot. I have read a number, but not all of King books and got quite a few references, but I am sure there must have been many more. For example, right at the end something happens at `Four Past Midnight' which is, of course, the name of one of Stephen King's books.

This is a hard book to rate.
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By Annie on 10 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The Pen Name is one of those novels where a maximum of 5 stars doesn't seem sufficient. Lightning-paced and cleverly-structured, the writing style reels you in and simply doesn't let go. The characters' personalities were memorable and felt so real I easily became invested in their fates. The plot twists were filled to the brim with terrifying suspense, utterly addictive, even on the final page I longed for more.

I would thoroughly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys paranormal and/or psychological thrillers.
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Format: Paperback
David Jacob Knight is the collaboration of two gifted authors who both have the ability to work well with different sub-genres of horror, and appeal to a variety of readers. The Pen Name provides some solid dark fiction with enough realism to induce paranoia among the literary community with this frightening tale of a publishing company that steals souls.

The aspect that really made The Pen Name an entertaining read for me was the detail put into the characters' personalities. I felt very emotionally invested in the fate of Ben Little and his family, after his rash decision made in a desperate attempt to provide finanically for his family. I often found myself yelling at Ben...whenever I get that disgusted with a character's decisions and actions, it's usually a good sign that I'm into the plot.

I found the ending particularly creative, as well as unexpected. This was a nice break from the usual zombie fiction that I read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 69 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Ghost Writers in the Machine...4.5 stars 12 Oct. 2013
By Patrick S. Dorazio - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Ben Little is a struggling author whose writing career is going nowhere. The copies of his first book, which he ordered for the convention he's attending, didn't show up. Add on to that the fact that he hasn't worked a day job since being laid off by the phone company several months back makes for a very depressing situation for him and his family. But Ben's luck is about to change. A famous author who is also at the show happens by his table and chats with him and later, after Ben returns home with his wife, a publishing agent with an intriguing offer knocks on his door. The famous author from the convention wants to work with Ben on a novel, but to do so he has to sign a very long and complex contract with no time to review it. He'll get a $5,000 advance and another $10,000 upon completion of the work, but he either agrees immediately or the deal is off. Nervous but knowing that this could be life changing-the debts have piled up and his son needs special care for some physical ailments he has-he signs the contract.
From that point forward, Ben is under the gun to write his chapters after being emailed outlines from the other author. The plan is to finish the book within a month, even though Ben's first book took him years to complete. It seems a daunting task, but one that could be life changing for him and his family. Part of the contract he signed but didn't read states that the agent for the other author will be taking him on different research expeditions to give him a better feel for what he is supposed to write about. But these trips entail some rather grim journeys that have Ben wondering what is really going on with his co-author and the strange German publishing company behind the contract he's signed. There is blood, violence, and blackouts that leave Ben wondering what is happening to him during and after these surreal field trips. At the same time, his mind seems to be unraveling as he digs deeper into the mystery behind his publisher, his co-author, and even some of the other authors who have been ghost writers for the publisher.
The Pen Name could be categorized as a supernatural thriller or a flat out horror, dependent on your perspective. Regardless, it is a taut, mysterious story filled with scenes of slowly mounting dread intermingled with abrupt, jarring, and disturbing action sequences. There are dark, supernatural forces at work but at the same time there is a taste of conspiracy that feels more like big brother than the work of the devil or some other malignant being. Part of what makes what is happening to Ben so disturbing is the fact that while he feels like a puppet on the publisher's evil strings, their efforts to push him into creating his most compelling writing through their terror tactics does just that. Ben's life is eroding before his eyes, his mind deteriorating, but he is doing the best writing of his career. And as the noose tightens around his neck, he realizes that he must finish the story he has begun, both the one on the page and the one he is living through, no matter what the consequences.
The Pen Name is an easy to read tale that keeps you intrigued throughout. The story, and Ben's mind, unravel slowly, and leaves the reader puzzling over what is real and what is imagined. There is plenty to second guess and puzzle over concerning Das Verlag, the publishing house whose main exploit seems to be running livestock slaughter houses...especially the slaughter of pigs. Of course, not all mysteries are revealed, though there are some nice twists in the end, but I guess if I had any sort of complaint it would be to have better understood what Das Verlag was all about...or at least a little bit more. Even so, this is a well spun tale and an enjoyable horror/thriller well worth checking out.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Great idea, tedious execution. 16 July 2014
By hr puffystuff - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After I finished this book, the last few pages explained to me that it was written by two authors just like in the plot of the story. All I can figure is one wrote the first half and the other wrote the second. I have a really hard time understanding all the great reviews for this book. It honestly gives me a worse headache than all the Stephen King and various other pointless pop culture references name dropped throughout this book. Doctor Durden? Come on, guys.
In the first half of the book, you're supposed to get really suspicious of things - events, conclusions drawn by the main character Ben - but my huge problem with this book was the characters. Ben is probably the most underdeveloped, unintelligent, weak, and uninstinctual character I've read out of this type of story. He's adopted and he has the burden of a family. End of story. First half: he continually makes flagrantly bad decisions that go against his contract and better sense for no real reason and then acts totally appalled when he's held accountable for them. He's beyond suspicious, but when his health and sanity are threatened, these things take a backseat to taking his kid to the park.
And then the wife... ugh... Alice Little or Alice in Wonderland Liddell? Either way, what a wife stereotype. The way she was written, you could almost blame her for everything. But that's typical, I guess. It certainly gave me no reason to care about what you're meant to care about, as the writers remind you - the family you're meant to protect - because I didn't care about any of these people. I didn't even know them.
The second half was actually pretty cool, but did itself a disservice by being completely unconnected to the first half of the book and never explaining how this villainous entity existed or for what purpose. If the entire book had started from this with foreshadowing of the pigs and etc, it would have made a really great book. At the same time, bad plot holes. SPOLER - if Ben's face had actually changed through a Devil's Deal, you're telling me the magic was somehow dispelled because he pointed out orally that the contract was void because of the name?! Doesn't that mean he should have never had Ben's face? And why didn't someone still have Coffey's life? END SPOILER
I actually flipped through the action at the end. Like I said in the title, it was a great idea, but the execution was a tedious mess.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Wonderfully Chilling! 9 April 2014
By H. Haugstad - Published on
Format: Paperback
“But if life had taught him one thing, it was that you mastered the absurd by laughing in its face. All evil was, inevitably, absurd.”

First Impression: I read Pavlov’s Dogs by D.L. Snell previously, so I was excited to see what this team had to offer in a thriller.

Characters: Distinct and recognizably human, the Littles and DasVerlag employees stand out in a genre of overplayed detectives and spies. Their thoughts and actions are very realistic.

World Building: Scenes of psychosis, or maybe truth? Delve into a world where nothing is as it seems, and keeps you guessing to the very end. Some disturbing slaughterhouse moments, but nothing really explicitly violent happens. Although definitely for adults, I appreciate the lack of sex scenes!

Writing Style: I enjoy stories that make you forget what’s real and what’s imagined - that’s exactly what The Pen Name demonstrates. Intense action scenes get your heart pumping, and the suspense is lip-biting. There’s even a reference to Misery if you can find it.

What I Enjoyed: The relationships between the main character and his family, as well as between him and the agents, are all so wonderfully raw. I was concerned this would turn into a blood bath…no pun intended. However, I didn’t walk away scared – just paranoid! That really is what a good thriller provides: a health sense of paranoia.

Overall Rating: 5 stars for an eerie supernatural tale. Bravo!

For Fans Of: The Bone Collector, Shutter Island, and Stephen King’s Storm of the Century
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"Excellent"......."Ubel Das Verlag"....or....."To Publish Evil"...................... 30 Sept. 2013
By Robin Lee - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an excellent refreshing, thriller...It' a satire on the use of authors' "Pen Names"..It's amusing and thought provoking at first, but then takes a twisted turn into pure bloody terror..I would go as far as saying this is more demonic than supernatural by the shocking last chapter, that may just never end..This story is not for weak stomaches becasue it can be very gorey..In fact, the writing style reminds me of my favorite author, "Bentley Little"...(Is this a pun by both authors ? )...It's an excellent plot that is a non-stop rollercoaster ride of suspense and surprises..Once I started to read I couldn't put it down until the last page, which left me speechless..Great in-depth characterization of "Ben Little" that you feel his fear, terror, paranoia and love for his family through out the entire novel..As you read you will come across many characters with plenty of authors' pseudonyms or names from previous well known horror books..If your an avid reader like me you will recognize quickly..

The story centers around a very powerful and controlling "Publishing House", called "Das Verlag" that's been around for "centries"..Once you sign a contract with them you are promised many extra perks for your family, but sometimes they maybe consequences...So, you have bestselling, author Jack Fleischer, (which that can even be a pen name) versus small time, self publishing author Ben Little...Who both meet at a book convention show, and of course the "Little family' is overwhelmed like any fans would be..The next day Ben's wish will come true when Jack Fleischer's publishing agent shows up at his home with a very long contract to sign and waving a big cash adavnce in front of their faces..Ben's gut instinct is telling him one thing but because they are in debt, his wife Alice pushes him to sign it....That's was the easy part..Now begins chaos and torture which slowly plunges Ben into the depths of "Hell"...Where once you end up there you don't exist anymore...

The afterword in the book and below claim that the real author's or ghost writers are Jacob Kier and D.L. Snell..If so then where is author, David Jacob Knight..As these two ghost authors, also claim they have been in some type conspiracy and hardships with publishing houses in the past...Then who really is "Permuted Press"......Perhaps an alias for "Das Verlag".(German, for To Publish).....Think about it...Do we really know who wrote this book at all ???
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Terrifying, suspenesful, disturbing, and often climactic 19 April 2014
By Horror movie buff - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was captivated by this book and finished it within a week, which is unusual given my busy schedule. It was just too hard to put it down. Pen Name has great character development, suspense, tragedy, many climactic scenes, grisly horror, and a unique story line. I enjoyed the several references to Stephen King's works, and they were used in a way that justified the references (they weren't just added randomly). The only part of the book I didn't like was the animal cruelty, so I had to keep telling myself it was just fiction.

As for the ending, I was definitely not expecting that.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy suspenseful horror.
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