Product placement in books as well as films

10 10 2013

“Marcia just loved the feeling as the ice cold Coke slipped down her dry throat, lubricating, satisfying, cooling…”

That will be £1,000 please Mr Cola. Please pay by return. Cash preferred! Oh, you’d prefer a pay per book deal, would you? OK. Should we start at 10p per hardback and negotiate from there?

It works for film makers so there must be an argument for it to work for books as well. Should JKR get a slice of the coffee profits next to the Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross? Should Brown get a piece of the tourist pounds spent at the Louvre or Florence? Jodhpur in India is getting a mention in one of my upcoming stories so perhaps if I mention which airline I intend my heroine to travel by could mean a ticket or two wings its way to me.

I do wonder how prevalent it is both in the rarefied heights of the global author meeting global consumer brand but also down at the grass-roots. Local authors are writing by the thousand all the guidebooks, the walking trail maps, the home-town set novellas – do they get the free coffee for mentioning Kiara’s Koffee shop or a pint a day from the “best little pub in Lower Froyle” which a fictional detective likes to frequent?

Alternatively should writers never reference real things, real places, real people? I do it. All the time. I love that I can base my books on real locations, love that readers may come and see where my imagination placed a character. What does it hurt?

Did I mention how much I like Bentleys and Jaguars – fine automobiles all!





Try it before you write it?

12 08 2013

Do you need to try something before you write about it? Ask Arthur C Clarke.

A flippant answer but pertinent. Did Mr C go into space, did he meet aliens, did he redraft the laws of physics. No. But should he therefore not have written about it?

We are fiction writers. It’s made up. Of course there will be elements of truth  in all our stories – human’s breathe, walk, live in houses, have sex. A plan will transport you between cities, countries or continents. But I have faith that Egypt is in North Africa even though I’ve never been there. If I had a guide book to hand and access to t’interweb I could probably write you a rollicking chase through the souks of Alexandria. But I’ve not experienced either the chase or the souk.

Did Mrs James have to try all 50-shades before she wrote about them? Does Dan Brown read latin or just have a phase book? Did A A Milne really have a hunny-loving bear telling him his thoughts?

There are areas, even in fiction, where experience is beneficial. A knowledge of anatomy is useful when writing a murder scene. Understanding of police procedure helps set up a detective story. Your first book will probably have more of your knowledge than any subsequent because you will write what you know before you really get into making everything else.

Do you need to try it before you write it? No. But you should know it. Don’t piss off your readers by putting Birmingham at the end of the M23 motorway – unless of course you’ve made a world where it really is!

Why not just make up the fact that you’ve tried it!





Pseudonyms – what’s in a name?

26 07 2013

 

JK Rowling is actually Robert Galbraith – or is that vice versa? “The Cuckoo’s Calling” was not written by some canny bloke with a striking turn of phrase about women’s clothes but by wizard obsessive Rowling.  She has moved on in more ways than one. Tales about Harry, Ron and (admittedly less common) Hermione have now become more adult and talk about one Cormoran Strike. Good name – is it a pseudonym as well?

 

I have no problem with pseudonyms. Lots of good reasons for using them – from JK’s anonymity and desire to be judged on her own literary merits, through to hiding something about your real self. Would Mein Kampf have sold so well written by Hilda Bathwater, Five go to Kirren Island by Brigadier De’Ath?  There is also the embarrassment factor. Should a respected journalist, literary professor, industry stalwart want their google name search interspersed with fan-fiction about the soft porn novels churned out in their spare time? Better Trudy Biglove gets the fans and Professor X gets the cash and solid reputation!

 

I did like the spate of books that came out when Da Vinci Code appeared. So many men suddenly had names which rhymed with Dan Brown or could be easily mistaken for his name by a commuter in a hurry. Dan, Sam, Tom. How many were real names?

 

If an author has a good reason then so be it. Let it lie. However, should we have the same view if it is (crassly?) commercial decision by the publisher? Should authors allow themselves to see their work under another’s name simply because their surname has too many syllables or doesn’t translate well into another language? Are commercial reasons so bad? Are they all crass?

 

My writing is my own. My name is my own. I am me.  Honest!