Friday, September 7, 2007

Spam's Wonderous Role In The Writing Process By Rob Walker

SPAM Can Be Made to Work for Us!
Finally, a use for spam...or rather a couple of uses for spam. Spam has been given a bad rap. People the world over hate spam, and few understand the "art" of the spammer, and fewer still give one holy hell about the spammer and his problems. Spam is meant to grab your attention, and some of it does just that--while most of it just disgusts us. However, the spammer works extremely hard at coming up with something new and in this I mean a hook. Any coincidental spam message that comes up say with a name you think you know--say that of a relative, now that's targeted spamming. But I digress. How can we writers take hold of the spammer's art and learn from it? Hey, I'm semi-serious here.

OK....for a goodly while, while I was working on my City series -- City for Ransom, Shadows in the White City, and City of the Absent (coming Dec), I began to notice (or I had my antennae up for it) all these really cool 18th Century-sounding names like Abekinebar Jayhawker. Now obviously, some thinking spammer thought this name would draw me in like a moth to the flame, and hell if it didn't. That's a character name to die for. Rather than scan my mind, give up on that, then scan the local telephonoe book for character names, it dawned on me that I could just go to my spam...and lo and behold, I had so many cool old world-seeming or sounding names (culling the obvious Muslim and East Indain names) like Saaid Flemming and Momar Lewinski) that I had all the names and more than I could handle for an entire slew of mystery novels with some left over for the occasional horror novel.

My FleshWar on\shorts takes place in India. How I had to rely on my spam for that one! My psychic suspense novel PSI Blue is littered with spam as well. You just have to know it when you see it.

Yes, SPAM has won a place in my heart and in my works. What can I say. I could have filled the pages of Absolute Instinct and other instinct titles with names such as David Wilson, Mark Thompson, Robert Long, Bill Coleman, Tom, Dick, Harry; Tina, Dana, Mary, but I was SAVED by SPAM names...those people who purport to enlarge what I need enlarged and reduce what I need reduced, and fill what I need filling. I needed not their questionable services such as breast enlargements, but I truly did need their cool names-- like Akbar Noggin.

Rob Walker
City for Ransom,
Shadows in the White City,
Psi Blue, FleshWar, and in Dec., City of the Absent

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