Monday, 9 September 2013

Guest Blog - Names, Games and William Shakespeare by author J.E. Ryder

"What's in a name?" asks Juliet of Romeo. "That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet." Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
This name thing is strange when you’re an author. According to the experts, William Shakespeare had difficulty coming to terms with his - should it be Shakspere, Shakespear or Shakespeare? At least he used his first name. Once, it was normal for authors, male or female, to use initials and surname, giving them the proper gravitas in the eyes of the reading public. In previous centuries, some female authors used initials to hide their gender in order to avoid censure, but in recent times it's often been about their work appealing to readers of the opposite sex. J.K. Rowling's publisher thought her Harry Potter series would be more attractive to boys if her first name, Joanne, weren't on the cover. The rest is history.

I used initials for a different reason when I published my debut novel Blood Pool. My real name is long and cumbersome. Imagine, I thought, how it would crowd the book cover. Just think if John Ronald Reuel Tolkien hadn't gone the initials route, or Joanne Kathleen Rowling, or Alan Alexander Milne or... you get the idea. I limited the initials to two (my parents were generous - they gave their children three first names). After publication, I was so busy with the business of writing that I never got around to telling anyone my first name. Soon, my online chums were calling me J.E. and it stuck.

Sometimes a long name can be a positive asset. At school, in my early teens, we girls had two games we were fanatical about - the skipping game and the name game. Both were simple delights from before the digital age, games that came from our imaginations. The skipping game was a communal and brutal test of foot-eye co-ordination. Imagine a rope, thick like a hawser, strong enough to tie a liner to a dock (or so it seemed). Then think of two girls standing ten yards apart, both hands on a rope end, swinging the rope with all their strength. Three or more girls at a time could skip together. The trick was to run in under the upward lunge, skip for two or three rotations and dodge out. Misjudge an entry or exit and you could lose a limb. Very character building. I have the scars to prove it.

By comparison the name game was gentler, quieter, more cerebral. This is a game where I could have taken on authors Joanne Kathleen, John Ronald Reuel or Alan Alexander in a fair fight, at least where the letter E is concerned. Let me explain. One child, the Caller, would stand, say, twenty yards away. The rest would line up abreast facing her. The Caller would shout out a letter of the alphabet. The idea was to count the number of times the letter appeared in your full name and take the corresponding steps forward. First girl to reach the Caller was the winner. How I longed for an E to be called out. I have a grand total of seven. I won a few times before the other girls caught on. They never called the E again.

The problem is, my author initials are so ingrained in my thoughts now that at a party the other evening I almost introduced myself as J.E. to a complete stranger. This can't go on. It's time to tell you my first name. I'll use the short, short version. It isn’t going to win me any name games, but here it is. Hi, everyone. Good to meet you. Call me Jan.

About the Author

At ten years old J.E. Ryder discovered that her elder brother's reading choices were completely different from hers, and much more exciting. She loved his fabulous Marvel Comics with their superheroes and heroines, the espionage novels, gritty adventure stories and survival epics. Her lifelong enjoyment of thrilling fiction has had a major influence on her writing. Her career in business administration took her through all the big city industries and corporations: oil, banking, law and national government, and provided an endless cast of fascinating people and situations to draw on. Her debut thriller, Blood Pool is available from Amazon. Currently, she’s working on her next novel, a sweeping thriller that spans the European continent, a story of tragedy, vengeance and love.

How hard can it be to kill one woman?

After her husband dies in a freak accident, Samantha Shelley inherits his boat yard and estates. Men from the Shelley blood pool have owned the land for two hundred years. This shocking break with tradition unleashes brutal emotions in the local community. Simmering dislike for her erupts into open hostility.

Her problems intensify when an old friend, an eccentric inventor, goes missing in violent circumstances. She's devastated: he's been like a father to her while she grieved. The race is on to find him. The Police want him for murder. Government agents want him before he and his deadly, world-changing invention fall into the wrong hands.

Sam discovers that she holds the key to his disappearance, a key that also makes her a target. To save them both she must reach him first. She follows his trail with the help of an unexpected ally, an ex-soldier living on a yacht in her harbour. Soon, she’s drawn into a murky world of espionage and death where no-one is what they seem, especially those nearest to her…

Amazon Link to buy Blood Pool here 
J.E. Ryder’s Blog: here
J.E. Ryder’s Amazon Page: here
Facebook: here
Twitter: here
Goodreads: here


  1. Hi Jan - good post! I know just what you mean - my real surname isn't Tyler, but I use it far, far more often than my real one - to the extent that I'm now a bit surprised when reminded of it! (Sssh, don't tell my husband!)

  2. Hi Jan, as a fellow initial writer your post really resonated. I often feel like Rumpelstiltskin when people start trying to guess my name. I agree with both you and Terry that after awhile the name, or the initials, just become ingrained in who you are. Great post.

  3. Thank you, Terry and E.L. The name difficulties also carry over to signing emails. I often have to stop and think who I am at that particular moment!

  4. I am guilty too with my name Bodicia but it's a pet name and one I rather like :)

  5. Names are funny. And some are so of their time. There were lots of Pamelas and Janices around when I was growing up. None now. I thought about writing under a pseudonym, or as CJ Hedges. But haven't, interesting to read the comments and see who isn't who!!


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