Monday, November 21, 2005

A Is For Alliteration

While working on my werewolf novel, I’ve had to construct some background for my main character. Michael Andrews is a successful mystery writer with a series of books about an antiques dealer with a passion for solving historic mysteries.

I’ve noticed that sometimes long-running mystery writing series featuring a recurring main character deploy a standard naming convention, (Linwood Barclay, for example uses “Bad” in the title of his hilarious Zack Walker mystery series, Kay Hooper has used “Evil” “Fear” and “Shadows” in the titles of different mystery series’ she’s written, James Patterson has done a series using 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, and in his “Bobby Emmett” series, Denis Hamill seems to have used a number value in each title) so I thought that perhaps I’d use that type of convention.

A particular author that I remember speculating about in the past was Sue Grafton. She’s written books using titles such as:
A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, C is for Corpse
I remember joking with other bookseller types about what Sue Grafton might do after she reaches Z. What next?

I had two thoughts. She could either move on to numbers (1 is for 1 Dead Body, 2 is for 2 Gunshot Wounds, 3 is for 3 Unsuspecting Victims) or she could double up the letters of the alphabet (AA is for Accused Assassin, BB is for Befuddled Burglar, CC is for Cocaine Caper) The glorious list goes on -- I, of course, would welcome other amusing suggestions via the comment section from those with an itch to share their own.
The best I could come up with so far for the fictitious novels Michael Andrews is writing will be the use of alliteration in them. One of his books is called “Print of the Predator” another is called “The Gambler’s Gambit” and other “Roost of the Ruthless Raven”


Pete Mitchell said...

Geek alert. Be warned.

Actually, Sue Grafton is going to finish the series with Z, which will be titled "Z is for Zero" and the background plot will deal with her detective turning 40. And, as she set herself the challenge of keeping the stories in their own "real time" in the eighties, she's joked that by the time she finishes the series, she'll technically be writing historical fiction.

And when I was living in England, I had a geek moment at work and sent an email to her website suggesting the character would likely be a fan of Kraft Dinner and how come there was never any mention of it. I received a polite "thank you" reply and thought that was that. But sure enough, in her next book there was a reference to something like 'those processed macaroni and cheese dinners that are the mainstay of college students" (I'm guessing she couldn't get the rights to say Kraft Dinner. Their loss.) Funny thing is, turns out the character doesn't like it and thinks she's above eating it --and was explained in a way that was true to the character. I loved Grafton for turning it around like that.

Yes. I am a nerd.

Kimberly said...

yeah you are Peter...but we love you anyways...

How about "The Curious Cabinet" although keep in mind that some alliterations can start to sound like Nancy Drew Mystery titles...


Adrienne said...

Hey Mark,

I've been lurking around your blog (and Mathew's and Gwen's) for a while (mostly looking for gossip from the old workplace), but I had to speak up here -- I was so irritated by the Grafton alphabet series and the Evanovich number series that I pitched a satirical piece to the Post a few years back, proposing a more cerebral Canadian approach to the thriller series: titles using the elements of the periodic table in order of atomic weight. Nice to get paid for what began as a snarky rant that originated at work!

Franny said...

The Wild Waterloo Werewolf Wets his Whistle with White Wine and Wendy.

Anonymous said...

And one must never forget that Grafton stole the idea for her "A to Z" series from the Master, "Ed McBain (Evan Hunter).

Mark Leslie said...

Peter - thanks for relieving my anxiety about what Grafton was going to do at the end of the alphabet. Too bad she didn't make you a character in one of her books.

Adrienne - Nice to hear from you -- I'll try harder to toss a bit more work-related gossip into the mix for you. :)

But I would love to read that article you wrote - sounds interesting. Is there an electronic version of it online that I can read?

Pete Mitchell said...

She didn't steal the idea, she's paying homage. She's a huge fan of McBain.

Ya mess wit Grafton; ya mess wit me.