The rise and fall of Dan­nie Manor­born, writer and an all round good per­son

Bray People - - OPINION - With David Medcalf med­der­s­me­

HELLO, my name is Derri Flac­dem – or maybe not. Let’s go with Dan­nie Manor­born in­stead. Or try rolling Drew Med­dle­some around the mouth. A pseu­do­nym, an alias, a nom de plume is re­quired. Ac­cord­ing to this news­pa­per piece, suc­cess­ful writ­ers are be­ing pub­lished un­der all sorts of won­der­ful han­dles. So, if I want to have my long ges­tated novel even con­sid­ered by Pen­guin or Pi­cador, then I will have to en­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions fore-armed. The press ar­ti­cle sug­gests that the ex­ec­u­tives on the other side of the table will be more in­ter­ested in my moniker than my man­u­script. I may have to rein­car­nate as Duch Midd- Calf, as Delhi Mysore or as Dali Munchen.

The ped­dlers of lit­er­a­ture be­lieve that women tend to pre­fer books writ­ten by women. Mean­while, men have a lean­ing to­wards works which spring from the minds and the key­boards of their fel­low men. The mar­ket­ing folk reckon they are on a beano if they can de-sex their au­thors al­to­gether and present them as nei­ther male nor fe­male.

The trend, as so much in mod­ern pub­lish­ing, was set by JK Rowling who pitched her Harry Pot­ter se­ries from be­hind a pair of an­drog­y­nous ini­tials. No doubt her close friends are happy to call her Joanne, hence the J, but the K was adopted for com­mer­cial pur­poses as a trib­ute to her late grand­mother – Kath­leen. As Rowling em­barked on her wizard ca­reer, young boys were her most ob­vi­ous tar­get and she could not af­ford to scare the lit­tle chau­vin­ists away from Hog­warts. Four hun­dred mil­lion books and eight hit movies later, all we can do is ac­cept that the JK brand works.

The re­port in the pa­per cites an­other ex­am­ple of the two-let­tered strat­egy, this time adopted by a fella who is keen to keep po­ten­tial fe­male cus­tomers on­side. Yes, the writer who sells thrillers by the lor­ry­load as SK Tre­mayne, with women at the heart of his plots, is known as Sean Thomas to his pals and to his bank man­ager. But the up-to-the minute ap­proach is pro­vided by the cre­ation of Ri­ley Sager, a char­ac­ter who is as much a work of fic­tion as any­thing that ap­pears un­der that name. The author Todd Rit­ter de­cided put Ri­ley Sager on the cover of his crit­i­cally lauded out­put after con­sult­ing a list of ‘gen­der neu­tral’ names on the in­ter­net.

His is the tem­plate I must fol­low. I stum­bled on a sim­i­lar web­site in the course of my search for some­thing suit­ably hor­mone free as I plan my own cam­paign for world dom­i­na­tion of the best­seller charts. To be frank, it was Amer­i­can and pretty use­less, at least in­so­far as there was noth­ing in the ‘D’ depart­ment that ap­pealed greatly as a sub­sti­tute for David.

Delta per­haps might suit at a stretch, though stuck ob­scurely be­tween a river mouth and a Greek let­ter. Ho-hum. Dana may have no sex spe­cific con­no­ta­tion in the US but in this part of the world it screams a lit­tle girl singing ‘All Kinds of Ev­ery­thing’. Def­i­nite no-no. Dakota car­ries a whiff of 40 Shades, while Do­rian is un­doubt­edly Gray, and Dy­lan has to be Bob. No, no, no. Which brings us back to Drew. Nice and snappy, Drew. But I have wor­ries that Drew fails to hit the mid­dle of the spec­trum as re­quired. Drew speaks to me of brawny Aussie Rules foot­ballers. No again.

In search of in­spi­ra­tion, I wan­der among the shelves of the library at Med­ders Manor and pon­der the au­thors who have ap­pealed to me over the years. I was reared on Enid Bly­ton - a woman and proud of it. Later I read my share of Agatha Christie, go­ing on to en­joy Pa­tri­cia Corn­well, An­nie Proulx Maeve Binchy...

The cur­rent obsession is lady called Donna Leon who ex­plores the canals, cui­sine and ca­dav­ers of Venice with her de­tec­tive cre­ation Guido Brunetti. Donna Leon is ac­tu­ally Donna Leon. I can make a case for au­then­tic­ity.

But a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. If the pub­lish­ers want to air­brush away my go­nads be­fore they hand over the big ad­vance, then who am I to ar­gue?

Back to the draw­ing board.

Daff Mul­letova.

Dis­ney Mael­strom.


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