Thursday, March 30, 2006

Name calling

'Pointy-head columnist' Jonathan Freedland writes a goofy piece on why he chose a nom de plume for his latest book:

Once I was persuaded, it was only a matter of fixing on the name. The first part was easy. My last book was called Jacob's Gift, a family memoir whose starting point was the birth of my first son Jacob. When it came out, my second child, Sam, was already born. Concerned friends and relatives, anxious, no doubt, about future therapists' bills, warned that Sam might grow up to feel hard done by. I pictured an 18-year-old slamming doors, shouting, "He got a book with his name on it. What do I get?"

I had struggled to imagine how I would weave Sam's name into a book title. Here was the solution. But what about a last name? I went through a variety of options, all with a personal connection. But none sounded quite right. On the day of the decision, my agent called on his mobile. "We have to have something," he shouted, at the very instant his bus passed a poster advertising the summer's big movie, The Bourne Supremacy. Sam Bourne was born.

I liked it instantly. It made the connection with my son even stronger: after all, the book was hatched in 2004, and when was Sam born? (Sam Bourne - get it?) And I thought he sounded like a thriller writer. My own name is somehow too convoluted, too polysyllabic, with difficult "fr" and "th" sounds. Sam Bourne is altogether shorter and sharper.

The experience was liberating:

I confess there were scenes in The Righteous Men - especially the more intimate moments between protagonist Will Monroe and the women in his life - that Sam Bourne was happy to take on, where Jonathan Freedland might have been rather more wary.

Read the whole thing for other famous name droppers.

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