At the beginning of the film ‘Fargo’ a caption appears stating that, ‘This is a true story.’ When actor William H. Macy asked director Ethan Coen where he could find material to research his role he was told, ‘You can’t, We made it up.’ Under protest that he was lying to the audience the director justified his position by saying that, ‘It’s not lying, it’s fiction.’
Why is this relevant? A few weeks back I wrote to a book review site and asked if I could post a blatant pitch. The administrator agreed and added, ‘Thanks for asking. Most people just do it without permission under a fake name and review their own book.’
Not to take the moral high-ground, this is certainly something I considered early last year – I even had a name in mind – an italian pseudonym that roughly translates as ‘massive liar’. Suffice to say I joined a forum and was rumbled in less than 30 seconds. A thriller could’ve then been written about a deceitful author trying to cover his tracks whilst an overzealous website administrator goes after his head – A dumb idea and not one that I recommend to anyone.
So, the moral of this story is – If you’re gonna write stuff that you hope clever people will read – don’t insult their intelligence – OR – if you are going to insult their intelligence, do it in a humorous way.
I have a male friend who writes under a woman’s name. He sends letters to organisations asking them ridiculously random questions e.g. writing to a literary body and asking them to consider removing the letter X from the alphabet as it’s pointless. He then collates their responses.
I asked him why he writes as a woman, to which he replied, ‘I find that more people consider a woman i. more trustworthy ii. more worth responding to.’ He also made sure that the surname was an inanimate object e.g. Sheila Spoon or Ruth Kettle. This, he said, made them appear ‘too bizarre to have been made up’ – a reverse-psychology that seems to have paid off.
Meanwhile – I’m hoping the same rings true for Cororan (Koh-roar-ran) – a name that sounds made up but isn’t!
‘Methusalah Fandango’ reviews the work of literary giant Martin Cororan.