Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Why Mike with a J?

Mjke or Mike? Why the dilemma? Well, you have to prepare for fame don’t you. Although I don’t have a web site, I figured that once I became a multi-millionaire writer, whose name sat comfortably on every tongue, I’d probably need one. But having a common and boring name might be a handicap. There are lots of Mike Woods. There’s a welsh politician who always comes out on top of all the Google searches. If I use the longer, posher version of my name… well, there’s already a Michael Wood. He not only has history and travel books in every shop but also has a considerable TV presence. So I needed something more distinctive.
The answer came when I first set up my email address. I didn’t want to be Mikewood25649. Who would ever remember that one? Certainly not me. So I tried a range of alternate spellings and hit upon the idea of using Mjke. Looks kind of funky; kind of Scandinavian.
So I started using Mjke Wood as the by-line on all my submissions. It must have been good, because they used it on all the rejections too.
But then I hit upon a problem. People started asking me for my email; people with sales copy and prizes to share. Looks good in print but how do you say Mjke? Mu-jike? Ma-yike? I tried “Mike with a J” most of the time but you get a lot of blank looks when people are challenged into slotting a “j” into a word like Mike. So in the end I would spell it, and that’s not cool.
“How’s that again, sir? M J I K…”
“No, no I. Just J.”
“So, J Wood – for John is that?”
“No. M J K E, pronounced Mike!”
And I thought of all of these people lining up in Borders or Waterstones in a few years, and arguing with the sales staff. Or going onto Amazon and getting deliveries of books about Welsh politics or history instead of Sci-Fi.
No No No!
So I thought it was time to re-think the strategy. How about David? My first name is David but I’ve never used it. It’s confusing having a silent first name, but it’s something else I can blame my parents for – like my unconventional facial features and sticky-up hair.
So using David, even in ghost form, gives me options:
David M Wood
D Michael Wood
D Mike Wood
I was starting to warm to that last one. If you didn’t look too hard you might think the D was short for Doctor, and this might lend a degree of bogus credibility to my scientific bone fides.
And then I won the Jim Baen contest. I’d sent the story out as Mike Wood, and before I knew it there were Google hits all over the place for dull and conventional Mike Wood.
So that was the end of my Scandinavian period.
Mjke, Norse god of SciFi, will have to make do, for ever more, with an invisible bit-part on Blogger, and we must leave it to the pipe and slippers persona to do the boldly going.

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