“I had a stalker when I was in college, so that turned me off to the idea of putting everything out there,” RuNyx said in a video interview. It was her 30th birthday, and she was on her third day of a hotel room quarantine after a wedding weekend in a distant country. But Covid wasn’t the reason her camera was off: RuNyx, whose best-selling romance novel, “Gothikana,” is the toast of TikTok, prefers to remain anonymous. In fact, she insists on it. Assiduously.
“I’m very private,” RuNyx said, her words pulsing a brown circle icon emblazoned with a script nom de plume. She provided the link for the Google Meet; normally, phone numbers are exchanged. “I’d like to be known for my stories, not for myself. I’m an introvert and I don’t like attention.”
Of course, the same could be said of the majority of authors who appear in this column. (Where are the writers who do it for the glory? What’s so terrible about a standing ovation in a bookstore?) But RuNyx was more guarded than most, declining to share the story behind her name or even the coordinates of places she’s called home.
“I’m a vagabond at this point in time,” she said. “I used to live in the United States. Before that, it was Europe.” A more dogged journalist might have pushed for a time zone; this one is a mother first and a busybody second. The woman wasn’t feeling well! It was her birthday! Plus, there was a crispness to RuNyx’s unplaceable, accented delivery that made it clear she wasn’t going to budge.
For the most part, her fans have accepted that they’re not going to get their books signed or watch RuNyx flip an omelet on social media. Is she ever tempted to expand her circle of trust beyond her agent, her accountant, a handful of close friends and her father? (Her mother died last year.)
“I’ve had these little moments,” RuNyx said. “One time I was at an airport and I saw this girl reading one of my books, and I just went up to her and said, ‘It’s a really great book.’ And then I left.” She added, “I have a cousin who’s a reader and she has no idea it’s me.”
Not surprisingly, RuNyx gets occasional queries from fellow authors who are contemplating the incognito path. “The first thing I ask is, why do you want to do this?” she said. “Is it because you want to be trendy? Is it because it’s something that nobody else is doing? Is it because you genuinely want to protect your privacy?”
It’s hard to know for sure, but RuNyx seems to follow her own advice: “Even if you’re anonymous, be authentic. There has to be some grain of truth in whoever you are.”