Writing Nowadays–Tuckerizing

Steven Harper PiziksSometimes authors slip the names of real people and even their descriptions into their fiction.  This is called “tuckerizing” after a fan named Bob Tucker, who made it a hobby to persuade as many writers as possible to name characters after him.  Authors do it as favors, for fun, or as fundraisers.  I’ve done all three, but especially the fundraiser part. BONE WAR has tuckerizations, too.

The school where I teach has been hit by a number of tragedies, often ones that come with a financial cost.  At the time I was writing BLOOD STORM and BONE WAR, Joshuah Bertram, the young grandson of one of the cafeteria workers was diagnosed with cancer.  Josh’s mother graduated from the school as well.  The medical costs were devastating.  The teachers and other staff at Nameless High School decided to collect money to help.  I sent out a school-wide email that I was auctioning off the right to name a character in BLOOD STORM.  Halfway through the auction (and bids flooded the system), someone hit on the idea of everyone pooling their money and naming the character after Joshuah.  The pool won by a wide margin, and Joshuah appears in the second chapter of BLOOD STORM.

Against all expectation, Joshuah’s cancer went into remission, and everyone celebrated.  But when I was halfway through BONE WAR, it came roaring back.  Again, I set up an auction for characters.  This time we had a tie for first place, so I tuckerized two people. You can find Lady Sharyl and Joe the Sailor both playing small but pivotal roles in BONE WAR.

In my book, I’m able to make fate do whatever I want, but in real life, nobody has that power.  In the end, the cancer proved too powerful, and Joshuah passed away.  He was five years old. Joshuah lives in the pages of BLOOD STORM and the memories of everyone who knew him.

–Steven Harper Piziks

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Danny Large

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Writing Nowadays–Tuckerizing — 5 Comments

  1. That’s Wilson “Bob” Tucker, not Chris Tucker. He was a very prominent figure in early fandom, as well as a minor professional author.

  2. I’ve always heard that Tucker was the one writing in people’s names, not the other way around. For example, the Fancyclopedia 3 entry on “Tuckerism” says — “A Tuckerism is the practice among professional authors of using their friends’ names for characters in stories they are writing, Bob Tucker being a leading exponent of this sort of thing which he also originated in 1945 when he used the names of several fans in his novel The Chinese Doll.”