Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Give It A Name

It is a fact of life that some people have silly names, and normally the polite thing to do is not draw attention to it. If somebody's name is, say, Carrington B. Felch, then they are doubtless all too aware of how ridiculous it sounds, and probably the only thing holding them back from suicide is that people are yet to discover that the "B" stands for "Buboe". To make fun of poor Carrington would be cruel and unnecessary. Unless, that is, Carrington is a published author, in which case it is your right to judge his appelation as harshly as you wish.

Authors are in the priveleged position of being able to rechristen themselves at will, whether because they dislike their actual name (e.g. Stephen King's real name is said to be Gulliver Wankstrom III), or because they are already famous for writing under their actual name and wish to fly under the radar with a pseudonymous work. So it makes you wonder what some writers are thinking when they, and indeed their publishers, allow books to go on sale bearing disastrously unappealing or inappropriate names. Note the following examples:

Joan Jonker - According to her website, Joan writes "hilarious and touching stories". She also has a hilarious and touching (well, hilarious, anyway) name. While I have never heard of her, apparently the Swedes are mad for Yoan Yonker.

Rosamunde Pilcher - Half love-interest-in-a-shite-fantasy-novel, half tinned cat food flavour, Ms Pilcher allegedly "delivers heartwarming stories set against the beautiful landscape of rural England".

Dean R. Koontz - Winner of the 2006 Author Surname That Sounds Most Like a Phonetic Profanity in an Irvine Welsh Novel Award (narrowly beating thriller writer Stephen Coonts), Koontz is apparently one of the big names in horror fiction, and something of a reactionary bigot as well. I'm adding him to my fantasy dinner party guest list as we speak.

Karin Slaughter - Not sure if she's related to the old action thriller man Frank G. Slaughter, but in any event Karin has made a (rather off-putting) name for herself writing Patricia Cornwell-esque forensic thrillers. Appropriately enough, her books are renowned for their graphic depictions of, well, slaughter, so I suppose this is one case where the author's name actually reflects their work.

Jonathan Gash - Another well-named crime author, Jonathan could probably have turned his hand to erotica with equal success.

Louise Bagshawe - Not such a bad name, perhaps, but easily misread as "bagshave", a compound that summons at least three unpleasant mental images.

For more unfortunately named authors, see this excellent Amazon list which features such authors as I. Metin Kunt, Leon Homo, and (my favourite) Mu-Chou Poo. Martin Wank is pretty good, too.

Cross posted here, just in case you'd like to read it again with a different colour background.


TimT said...

Tim, the colour background on this blog makes all the difference.

I think my favourite would be Metin Kunt.

Tim said...

One amusing author name I forgot to mention is Greg Bear. It sounds like a handle in a gay chat room.

Tim said...

Oh, and if we're being really immature (and I suspect we are), don't forget Michael Moorcock.

TimT said...

How could I forget him? He's one of my favourite authors! His characters have the best names, too - Jeremiah Cornelius, Una Persson, Colonel Pyatt, Ulrik von Bek ...

Tim said...

Yeah, you've got to love Moorcock. Mind you, he's no Stef Kraps or William P. Wanker, but you can't have everything.

TimT said...

You know, apparently the euphemism "Fanny" = "Vagina" didn't exist until the twentieth century, but when Jane Austen names one of her main characters "Fanny Price" - and the novel is basically about what she puts a guy through before they get hitched* - you've got to wonder.

*Ridiculously over-simplistic interpretation, I know.

Tim said...

"Fanny" is a weird one, because as Keith from The Office observed, referring to America: "fanny means your arse over there...not your minge."

divinetrash said...

How you manage to have a sprog* and keep writing such amusing posts is a source of amazement to me.

* - admittedly, the sprog is not exactly coming out of you, but STILL.

JPW said...

Greg Bear is a great man.

Rachy said...

how 'bout Sho-Ya Wang?

or Father Rudiger Schlitz

Schlitz is German for small crevice. Colloquially it means c*nt.