aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Tuckered Out

Wilson "Bob" Tucker has died. He was a sci-fi writer for years and years. He made a practice of using his friend's names for minor characters in his stories. This has become known as Tuckerization. Frequently, the chance to have a character named after you is auctioned off at mystery and sci-fi conferences (usually for a non-profit, like a foundation devoted to literacy).

Ian Rankin often raffles off a chance to be a character to raise money for children who suffer the same terrible ailment his oldest does. (It used to be called Happy Puppet Syndrome.) My favorite is a book seller named Mary Margaret Mason, who has bid on appearing in many, many books. I'll be reading a mystery, and there Mary will be, a hospice patient or a bookstore clerk. Once Robert Crais made her two identical twin hookers (one named Mary, the other Margaret) with dragon tattoos.

I've put real people's name in my books many times. One of my favorites was the character Don Cannon in Shock Point. The real Don Cannon is a huge mystery fan. He was very helpful when I wanted to tour in LA and told me exactly where I should go. (He gets Tuckerized a lot for free.) I asked him if he wanted to be a villain or a good guy in Learning to Fly, and he said villain, because they would be more interesting. I don't know if it's because of him, but my bad guy got a lot more complicated than I had planned. He even had some good to him, despite the whole drug dealer/killer thing.

One big mistake was a woman who won and wanted her daughter's name used. That kind of put killer or victim off limits. She had more and more demands, and like an idiot I said yes each time. it ended with her daughter in the book (looking exactly like the kid), and her dog, Bear. And then the mom complained that I called Bear a "he" on second reference. I was informed that I should have known Bear was a she.

Do you know any good examples of Tuckerization?

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