Hammer Time: Authors Auction Off a Chance to Appear in Their Work

I read this article over the weekend about the charity auction for the First Amendment Project. If you haven’t heard about this, the deal is that 16 authors (ranging from Stephen King to ZZ Packer) will be auctioning off the chance to appear in an upcoming book, in a variety of ways. The auctions will take place September 1-25. The offerings range from lukewarm to somewhat interesting. Like this bit from Stephen King:

“One (and only one) character name in a novel called CELL, which is now in work and which will appear in either 2006 or 2007. Buyer should be aware that CELL is a violent piece of work, which comes complete with zombies set in motion by bad cell phone signals that destroy the human brain. Like cheap whiskey, it’s very nasty and extremely satisfying. Character can be male or female, but a buyer who wants to die must in this case be female. In any case, I’ll require physical description of auction winner, including any nickname (can be made up, I don’t give a rip).”

Or this one from Lemony Snicket:

“An utterance by Sunny Baudelaire in Book the Thirteenth. Pronunciation and/or spelling may be slightly ‘mutilated.’ An example of this is in The Grim Grotto when Sunny utters ‘Bushcheney.’ Target publication date is Fall 2006.”

Other participants include Dave Eggers, Amy Tan, Rick Moody and Jonathan Lethem. You can check out the full list here.

Maybe none of these auctions interest you … are there other authors whose books you’d bid for a chance to appear in? If you’re a writer, would you offer up a “cameo appearance” in your writing, or do you feel you need to have control over the naming of your characters?

11 Responses

  1. Whose Book I’d Like To Be
    Whose Book I’d Like To Be In

    Great concept, though I don’t think any of these authors would be my top choice, if I were going to appear in somebody’s book.

    I guess my kids would be impressed if I showed up in a Lemony Snicket book. As for Stephen King, well, damn, he’s already written so many books I figure I must have shown up in one of them already, just by the law of probability.

    Being in a Dave Eggers book would feel pretty much like my everyday life — sit around, think about stuff, write, talk about writing, think about talking about writing. Being in a Rick Moody or Jonathan Lethem book would similarly feel too close to real life. If I could be in any current writer’s book, I guess I’d choose Ann Beattie, because then at least I’d get to relax in a beach house or Vermont country getaway somewhere, and have fashionably blank conversations.

  2. Nora Roberts,
    Nora Roberts, obviously

    Because I think a girl named Jamelah would be an excellent character for a Nora Roberts novel (of course, I haven’t actually ever read a Nora Roberts novel, but Danielle Steel isn’t offering).


    Otherwise, well, I’d have to pick Dan Brown. But only as the villain. Because I think starring in vast conspiracy theories is a lot of fun.

  3. I wonder if they leave Dan
    I wonder if they leave Dan Brown out of stuff like this because of spite for his incredible success. He would clearly sell for the most money, though I’m sure Stephen King will do just fine.

  4. Perhaps it’s a conspiracy
    Perhaps it’s a conspiracy against Dan Brown and we’ll hear all about it in The eBay Code.

    I dunno. I’d be much more interested in the whole thing if people were paying me to appear in something I’m writing.

  5. Does it matter what my name
    Does it matter what my name is?

    I don’t know. This blurring meta-reality/reality line I think has become a dangerous trend. Not that I, personally, believe that the truth is finite.

    And if my name was in a book (or my nickname or anything like it) would I relate to that character like I do to characters in a Camus novel?

    When the question of the absurd becomes so remote it is actual does me watching the carp swim up the slow moving stream in Aberdeen South Dakota become as likely as the saga from the old TV series “V” taking place?

    Both carp spawning in the late spring and TV shows about aliens harken a tangent of memory for me.

    It brings me back to the question Caryn asked a few months ago about parody parodizing itself. When does reality become fiction?

    Certain philosophy would hold all truths are fiction, but I really think if thought could precuse language the concept of all truths being fiction could be erased.

    I’m guessing that’s why so much of pragamtic theory and so forth attempts to reduce communication to a series of absolute figuring based on numbers.

    Without the place holder of language perhaps 1=1 and so forth could be alleviated. Sometimes a whole does not equate to another whole.

    Which brings us back to the ideation of ‘naming’ a character after oneself or a character of my choosing, the simple question is why?

    How would it make any difference?

    Unless I become a national name by 2006-2007 what impact would it have on me?

    Complex notions of semiotic theory set aside, what pragmatic impact would it have?

    Wouldn’t the time and the resources be better spent by culling my energy making up my own story instead of merely being a ‘fiction’ upon fiction in someone else’s work?

    Yes, “Josh Moore” or “Slog” or whatever I’m calling myself has a set notion of self-ideation. I attach a certain value set to my own persona just like anyone else.

    If I was a character in Dave Eggers or Stephen King novel would the mystic creation of the said author force a new para-identity or would it just PR for my own identity.

    Besides, I am of the belief that language causes reality. The dualism being here that I am both a character and myself. What self-reflection would come of being (and knowing instead of mere odd paradox) a character?

    The named authors are all fairly well-known, some superstar. Now, let’s say ‘Josh Moore’ becomes a Zombie in the new kind book? Mr. King is a very talented author albeit not one of my favorites with this self-advertisement confuse to the point where as all good authors forced self-reflection where I become a character in my personal narrative as per Mr. King’s creation?

    You see, like ‘Reality’ television which expounds reality via constructed falseness what is the whole damn point?

    What happens if the ‘character’ is oddly like myself or nothing like myself? Would I have to equate 1 (Josh Moore) = 1 (Josh Moore) when the equation is not balanced for obvious reasons?

    In the end I just see a tear of id and ego by forcing myself into another’s fiction.

    Oscar Wilde wrote that the author is the ulimate diguise in his own characters, Hesse maintained all fiction is autobiography.

    Sort of G. Stein’s little book how can autobiograpy change into fiction? I did make the AP Wire once for something or another but would feel like I must write a new chapter based on my assumed identity?

    I like being me. Most days.

    I’d rather not be some else’s me.

  6. live a littlehello book
    live a little

    hello book worms;

    if i get to live on pages i’d prefer to do something exciting, drunken, and romantic…bukowski comes to mind.

  7. “I’m mostly influenced by
    “I’m mostly influenced by spam,” — Jamelah.

    If you are a character in some else’s book aren’t you kind of making junk mail of yourself?

  8. Well, I suppose you could
    Well, I suppose you could look at it that way, slog… I think, though, that if I were to make junk mail of myself, I’d prefer it if I were called Obsequious M. Gelatin.

    I’m just saying.

  9. Interesting questions, slog
    Interesting questions, slog …

    I am thinking about these questions myself, especially because I’m reading Lunar Park right now, so I’m soaking in hyper-reality. I do gree with you that the use of metaphysical layers of being in fiction is symptomatic of something bigger in our society. Whether it’s good or bad or neither, I’m not yet sure.

  10. Does anyone know if I have to
    Does anyone know if I have to get permission to put someone in one of my books. I have this idea for a story featuring Hunter S. Thompson but I don’t know if I have to get permission from someone. When I first thought of this idea, Hunter was still alive, so I sent my request to the publishers of his books, but I never got a reply.

  11. Here’s my idea for a
    Here’s my idea for a novel:

    O.M. Gelatin and the Bogus History Buff

    Stan Tan has written a wildly popular book called The Ferlinghetti Code, espousing the theory that Allen Ginsberg was not a poet at all, but rather, a complex molecular plasma which Lawrence Ferlinghetti bottled and sold from his City Lights Bookstore back in the fifties, before anyone could prove these things. The man we identify as Ginsberg was a shill, hired by Ferlinghetti to make public appearances. But the shill went too far, trying to unite the Hippies with the Hell’s Angels, and speaking publicly about dick, so he was scuttled. I always liked that word, scuttled. Now, Ms. Gelatin has found a mystery puzzle box in the possession of Hell’s Angels boss Freewheelin’ Frank. Inside this box is the key to The Ferlinghetti Code. Bob Dylan was in on it. That’s all I can say.

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