Tuesday, April 15, 2008


First off, I have to say that 'Baby Shark', by Robert Fate, was an incredible book. I read it in less than 24 hours. In fact, I was sneaking chapters while I was at school-- the kids were working on their chapters and I was working on mine. 'Baby Shark' was *that* good.

It has the a tough, ass-kicking female lead. It's got well written, snappy prose-- no fluff. There's no detour into Romance Land, though there is a nice guy that shows up for awhile, giving Kristin some feminity. There was a great cast of characters, from Henry to Otis. I wish there had been some more of Kristin playing as the pool shark, but other than that, it was fantastic. I have not read a book this engaging in quite some time. I'm afraid to read anything else for fear that it won't be as good as 'Baby Shark'.

Kristin, aka Baby Shark, could give Bo Fexler a run for her money. =)

Now, along those lines is something I've been mulling over. Name dropping. I use a few select product references in my stories. Some just for effect-- such as the mental image of Bo driving her Camaro. Some because they're my prefrence-- note that Bo prefers Diet Pepsi. In the latter category, I've been toying with the idea of doing some name dropping in Bo's reading.

Every now and again, Bo picks up a book. I've been thinking about referencing some of the good books I've read as Bo's reading material. Such as having her get engrossed in, say, 'Baby Shark'. Or have her reading 'Under a Raging Moon'. Of course, being the sort of person I am, anything mentioned specifically would be portrayed positively-- boring books will be just generic boring books.

Would readers notice? Perhaps a few. But to many it would likely be as innocuous as mentioning that Bo was grooving to Tool's "Schism" while crusing down the e-way. A pop culture reference that passes unknown. But it means something to me, and I might just share it with the world.



pattinase (abbott) said...

An interesting topic. Bobbie Ann Mason and Raymond Carver suffered from too many mentions of brand names until they called it Kmart realism. But I like a few cues to the time and character. I love that Ken Bruen tells you what he is playing or reading. I guess the number of them is the question. And not turning people off with your taste (or your character's)

Clair Dickson said...

Some of Elmore Leonard's stuff completely lost me with the pop culture references. I did know any of the brands. I try to be careful with saying what something is along with the brand, when I do it.

I would hope that mentioning what Bo is reading wouldn't stop someone from reading Bo's novels... but I'm sure it could happen.

r2 said...

Stephen King says that mentioning a particular brand name gives insight into a character. That the brand a person uses sometimes helps define what kind of person he is. In the beginning of his career, when horror novels were considered the bad joke of literature, King was given a boost because John D. McDonald would mention his books in stories and novels. I've noticed King has returned the favor to other authors and, at the moment, has called out Charlie Huston in his stories. My own opinion is that both products and books, if they tell a little bit about the character, are okay to be mentioned in stories. What I find troubling is an idea J.A. Konrath has suggested and that's product placement in novels as a means or raising extra cash.

Clair Dickson said...

Now, I have to admit that it would be nice to make some extra money from writing... but I've got a dreadfully high price when it comes to selling out.

And I could never get paid enough to pimp Diet Coke in my stories. ;-)

Travis Erwin said...

I think those little references add details that the reader can relate with and they also shape who and what the characters is.

Josephine Damian said...

I heard companies may pay authors to use product names in their books, just like in the movies.

Hell, if they pay me, I'll put in a ton of 'em.

Just kidding.

Pop culture references should be used sparingly, IMO, and also to convet character. A gal who drinks diet soda? Maybe just a pop culture touch of real-life. But a gal who eats 12 burgers, and then drinks a diet soda to "save calories" - well that tells me something about her character....

Clair Dickson said...

I agree references should be used sparingly. And, when possible, show something about the character.

Speaking of showing something, I laughed when I read you referring to "soda". 'Round these parts, we call it "pop". =) And that says something about the both of us, doesn't it?