Saturday, May 15, 2010

Your Name in a Book: Be careful what you wish for

One of the most popular auction items at mystery conventions is 'your name' in a book by your favorite author. after bidding lots of money for this 'honor', you can only hope that the character with your name is a law abiding citizen..or not, depending on your preferences. Often you have no say in the matter, and your named character turns out to be a prostitute or a  two-bit criminal. Sometimes you can talk with the author to ensure that your character is 'acceptable' to you.  Whatever the outcome, you've paid your money, and you take your chances. Using real names of people (fans/readers/friends) in books or stories as an in-joke is called Tuckerization. I've been tuckerized several times. I haven't paid, but my writer friends have used my name in their books as an in-joke, and luckily always in a good way, and always with a very minor character. Thanks, friends.

But what about an author using a name of a friend or acquaintance either wittingly or not in a book? Doesn't every novel have an "any resemblance" disclaimer?  Obviously Brendan Cody, doesn't see it that way or maybe he didn't read it at the beginning of the book. He has taken Thriller Writer Alexandra Sokoloff to court. He claims she defamed him in her 2009 thriller, The Unseen, creating a character with his name and description, who has "violent, sexually predatory and abusive" tendencies. They met at a writer's conference in 2007, and he claims they became friends, and that he shared things about himself. Sexually predatory and abusive things? Good Luck, Alex, this seems like a frivolous suit. Hope you win.

Read the article here at the Courthouse News Service.

7 comments:

Jennifer said...

Interesting. I often use first or surnames from people I know or have met. (But not a whole name.) It is way easier than trying to think of names sometimes. But I never realized this was an actual trope with a name for it. I met a woman at a conference with such a great first name, I told her I was going to use it and I am in one of my WIPs! Hopefully I will not be sued :) I wonder if he would have said Yes if she asked?

Janet Rudolph said...

A good auction item is your name in a book. It's a form of tuckerized and raises money for a good cause.

Sasha said...

Sometimes I use someone's name in a piece I'm working on (always in a good character) or hear such a great name I want to use it but never do.

Sybylla said...

I usually do that wiht my dearest friends. And they enjoy it. But I always use it in good caracters, the bad ones I choose another name.

Beverly Diehl said...

I do this, on occasion, as just that thing - an in-joke. Never as a nasty character, though. Or I'll use somebody's full name - for example, I have a screenwriter friend, and I used her full name in a faux awards acceptance speech practiced by an actress character. I know she won't mind!

Janet Rudolph said...

Love that, Beverly, maybe she'll win one!

Christina said...

In elementary school, I was taught not to ever use a name of a fellow classmate in our creative writing assignments. It's mostly because we can make them into the villain and it could be seen as bullying. Now, I'm trying to break away from that rule and use names of people I know.
Also, I really love unique names, and luckily, my friends don't have uber unique names. I used names like Koria, Trinity, and Lenna. And sometimes, I'll use a regular name (like Kaylee) and spell it differently (i.e. Kailee.)