So I drew the cover. Not what I initially planned, which was more outlandish and crazy but really beyond me. This is a straight cartoon and I would have preferred to shift into illustration, an area where I still feel weak. I browsed some book covers I liked and thought probably scale back my ambitions and draw a simple cover. Not included the author’s name at the bottom. Still haven’t decided what name or combination of names I’ll use.
That might seem strange but I’ve still only published one book under my own name. All the others used pseudonyms, turning the characters in the books into real-life figures. It’s the kind of meta nonsense which I enjoy. Yet I suppose it’s also something more than that. It’s not something I think about often but I know there are some common tropes to my work. If I were pretentious (okay, more pretentious than I am already) I’d call them themes. One is about celebrity and the way we elevate people into brands. The name becomes a sellable thing, which disgusts me so much that I tend to create these other people to be commodified. I’m also a huge fan of W.C. Fields and I’ve always loved his made-up names: Charles Bogle, Mahatama Kane Jeeves, and (my favourite) Otis Criblecoblis.
My other influence is William Donaldson. I was poking around on my shelves today and found a copy of “The Royal Love Birds” by “Talbot Church (the man the royals trust)”. He was such a master of this kind of nonsense. I’m not sure if it would work these days, however. Authors are expected to establish a “brand” and pseudonyms fatally undercut that. Perhaps that’s been my problem. In the early days, Richard Madeley got credited with everything I wrote, drew, photoshopped on The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society. I wrote a silly little thing as Prince Harry — Prince Harry’s Guide to Marriage, I think it was called — back when he was very much a bachelor, which judging from a few of the emails I got, some Americans credited to the real Prince Harry. Actually, I just found the blog. It’s at http://redtuft.blogspot.com/. There’s a link to the book there but also some of my very early cartoons. I can’t vouch for the quality of the blog.
I could go on…
Actually, I will go on. When this book of short stories was originally published, there was a blog that went along with it. It’s current locked because some guy started to write to me from Spain, thinking I was the woman writing the stories, and he would invite me to visit him. I should add that this didn’t last long. I was braver (more stupid) in those days but I still let the conversation lapse when it became clear he was somehow involved in organised crime. Never knew if that was real or bravado but I wasn’t going to take the risk. Did myself out of a free holiday, though not sure how a self-professed gangster would have felt if I’d turned up.
Hmm… Reminds me of another story and since I’m talking about past projects that were particularly puerile. I once created “The British Thong Society”. There is a blog over at http://britishthongsociety.blogspot.com/. I might have had a project in mind but I probably got bored with it. I did, however, get some fan mail from an American man who was a big fan of his thong collection. The address I put on the site is one I picked randomly but I often wonder if that place occasionally gets visitors asking to visit the Thong Society’s offices.
But I digress. What name? I’m not sure… Do I go with the original author (the name of the character who tells the tales) or do I include myself in the mix? Do I even want my name associated with this filth? That might be a better question…