If you’ve read any of my books or screenplays, or if you happen to know me from waaaaay back when and have seen the amateur movies I made with my friends back in high school, then you’ve probably noticed that some of the character names pop up again and again from one project to the next. I do this for fun, but also out of a sort of odd superstition I guess. Making things a bit more confusing is the fact that while some of these characters are similar from one book to the next, many of them are never the same person twice, or they reappear as a variation of themselves from another work.
Here are some of the names you may recognize, along with a little detail about each, and the origin of their name:
- Brick Ransom – There’s a real Brick Ransom out there somewhere. In 1996 he came into the bookstore where I worked and special ordered a title. After he left, I wrote his name down on a scrap of paper and stuck it in my pocket. It was the perfect name for a character, but I didn’t get around to using it until 2006. The fictional Brick is a rough and tumble police officer, and the only character who is relatively consistent from one book to the next. In “BBEM” he’s a Seattle SWAT team member. In the current book, “Seattle On Ice,” he’s just starting out as a rookie Seattle cop. Brick is a combination of character types, some of which reflect my own personality, many of which are completely the opposite of how I am. For starters, Brick was a high school football player. Definitely not me. Brick is a food snob. Me. He likes French cuisine and good wine. Me. He is often accident prone… Me. The accident usually works out well in the end… NOT me. He frequently mutters antisocial things in his head. Kinda me. He’s quite the ladies man. Alas, this was never me. He likes to cook from time to time and is oddly prone to taking the advice of Martha Stewart… Yes, I admit it, me.
- Jeff Pepper (Also Jefferson C. Pepper) – Jeff is Jamie Pepper’s deceased father in “On/Off,” a cult novelist who was a combination of Spalding Gray, J.D. Salinger, and John Irving. In “BBEM” Jeff is the Paul Allen-like software magnate who is taken hostage when he goes to check on a research project he has been funding at a Seattle university. In “Rosé in Saint Tropez” he’s a Michael Bay-style film and music video director. In “Seattle On Ice” he’s just a footnote Seattle Billionaire.
- Dub Taylor – Dub Taylor was an actor who appeared in films ranging from Frank Capra’s ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ (1938) right up to ‘Maverick’ (1994). I have no idea how I ever latched onto the name, but it must have jumped out at me in one of my film books, and I ran with it. The name Dub Taylor must appear in just about everything I’ve written since 1997. He’s the title character in my movie ‘Dub Taylor.’ Dub pops up in script after script I worked on throughout college. I believe he’s in several of my feature length screenplays. Dub Taylor is the title character in the late Jeff Pepper’s cult novel in “On/Off.” In “BBEM,” Dub is an overweight TV cameraman who Brick uses to get close-up footage of a team of hostage takers. In “Seattle On Ice” Dub Taylor is a Hawaiian shirt wearing snow plow driver with an interest in TV broadcasting. I don’t recall if he appears in “Rosé in Saint Tropez,” but I think he’s either the author or a trashy spy novel, or the title character in a film directed by Jeff Pepper.
- Will Bartleby – Will Bartleby is me. He’s me at my worst. He’s me in scenarios I can only dream of being placed in. Mostly, he’s just me at my most pathetic.
- John Gaskell – The real John Gaskell was one of my high school science teachers. I also managed to convince him to appear in several of my movies. He’s the sketchy guy with the rose in this clip. Jack Lilburn and I named the cursed villain in one of our screenplays after him. I believe Gaskell pops up as a side character in “BBEM.”
- Owen Gleiberman – The real Owen Gleiberman is the most predictable film critic alive. Give me a title and a list of the talent involved, and I can predict within half a grade point what grade this longtime Entertainment Weekly reviewer will award a film. His taste in movies is everything I loathe, therefore, I’ve used the named for 50 percent of all the fictional miscreants and lowlifes I’ve cook up in my writing. In my 1996 high school movie ‘Dead Men Don’t,’ Owen Gleiberman is a criminal who dresses like Santa to steal charity money from an orphanage before murdering an elf. Like Dub Taylor, his name pops up in almost everything I’ve written. In “Seattle On Ice” he’s an over the hill cop who spends his days sleeping at a Green Lake Starbucks.
- H. Kaye Griffin (also H.K. Griffin) – If Gleiberman is the villain in half my projects, then Griffin is the scoundrel in the other 50 percent. Named after the superintendent of my high school, who just flat out bugged me, Griffin appeared in several of my high school movies. Griffin is also revealed as one of the plotters in “BBEM.”
So, those are the names I can think of right now. I know there are at least a half-dozen others. I’ll update the list as the names come to me.