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What’s in a Name

Posted on Friday, August 18, 2023 in Uncategorized

These days a lot of people talk about creating a “brand. Which is fine except the downside is that you may also be building a pigeon-hole – a little box that people find easy to put you in (if you’re lucky).

As Jimmy Thomson, my brand is, it seems, to become known as a writer and occasional broadcaster about apartment living. I worked hard at that, among other things, for many years.

However, I have a completely separate life as a creative writer – 16 books and three TV series – and the apartment gig muddies the waters.

Case in point: A few years ago I co-wrote and co-created (with the late, great Tony Morphett) the ABC TV drama Rain Shadow, starring Rachel Ward. A sometime later I bumped into her and her actor husband Bryan Brown in a restaurant in the Rocks in Sydney.

Ms Ward, it turned out, didn’t know me from a bar of soap but Mr Brown said: “Are you that bloke who goes on the radio and talks about apartments?” Guilty as charged.

So what do people think when they see my name and maybe even recognise it on the cover of a crime novel. When I see a familiar name attached to something outside its owner’s usual area of interest – like a boxer writing a kids book, for instance – my instinctive response is “get back in your box!”

So I’m changing my name for my more serious crime novels. It’s a long-standing literary tradition. Did you know that Julian Barnes wrote quirky detective novels under the name Dan Kavanagh? And Agatha Christie wrote romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott.

Stephen King used the pen name Richard Bachman for several of his early works, such as “Rage” and “The Running Man,” allowing him to publish more books without oversaturating the market under his own name.

Now, to be fair, if I was as talented as any of the above, I would not be writing my own website entries. But please welcome James Dunbar (my first two real names). Mole Creek, my first serious crime novel under that name was released on August 1, is already selling well, and you order it by clicking on this link.

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