by Guest blogger(s) Allyson Roy
If you think being the guy half of a female pseudonym is easy you should hear the pet name my father used to call me as a little kid. I won’t even tell you. Too risky. Wouldn’t want it buzzing through cyberspace. Even though he thought it was cute and funny. Even lovable. Somehow it didn’t quite strike me in those terms. The goofy, made-up word reminded me more of a French side dish or the name of some new line of clothing for babies. Don’t ask me what miracle spared me from his ever using it on me while in the presence of one of my friends. No doubt my bosom pal from the fifth grade would have hopped on it. Word would have spread through my school. Within hours my budding male identity would have been dealt to a major blow. All the quarters I saved in my piggy bank wouldn’t have been enough to hire a Madison Avenue publicity agent to salvage my reputation.
Alice also had her moniker cross to bear. For the purpose of this post she’s willing to disclose the name she hated: “Jocko.” As in the, oh, so popular colloquial term, jock. In high school she was very athletic -- cheerleading, gymnastics, running and ballet. Her reward was to be named after that very specialized garment designed to protect a man’s private parts during rigorous exercise. Gee, thanks.
Nicknames can be a real pain. Which is why we decided to give the lead character in our Saylor Oz Mystery Series, a high school label that keeps coming back to haunt her. In her early thirties now, Saylor hasn’t yet made it to five feet tall. And while growing up, she was always the shortest one in her class. Add that to her last name -- Oz -- and you’ve got the ingredients for a
perfectly awful nickname: “Munchkin.” That’s gotta hurt.
But we like to think it helped developed Saylor’s empathetic qualities and taught her early how to use her wits to stand up for herself. She’s a character whose personal insecurities combine with her game insistence on coming through for her friends, which usually gets her into situations that make her look ridiculous, not to mention putting her life at risk.
Meanwhile Saylor’s best friend and sidekick, Benita Morales, an obsessively frugal financial analyst and female boxer, is called Binnie. This takes on more defining aspects when combined with her ring name: “Binnie The Bitch.” The contrasting nature of the two character’s nicknames can hopefully give readers a fast, clear picture in their minds of the distinctly different personalities.
Saylor, a psychologist, sex therapist, and perfume aficionado, is a warmhearted oddball whose most lethal weapons are her fast mouth and her determination to be there for people who need her. Benita is more cynical. A hard line do-it-yourselfer and a pro boxer, she’s not afraid to get physical with obnoxious pendejos. So while Saylor is a nurturer who thinks nothing of following her intuitive hunches, Benita challenges her with hefty doses of reality testing, except when her own buttons are pushed.
One reason this opposition is crucial for our two main characters is because our crime adventures contain hefty doses of over-the-top humor, with Saylor and Benita working as a comedy team. Kind of like their two creators. No, not Jocko and yx%#. We’ve made up our own name this time, thank you: Allyson Roy.
Come visit us at http://www.allysonroy.com where you can read excerpts of both Saylor Oz books or enter a drawing to win one.
Many thanks to the authors of Working Stiffs for having us as guests today.
Allyson Roy translates as Alice and Roy, husband and wife collaborating authors and winners of a 2009 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Their Saylor Oz mysteries take place in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood and combine gritty, urban suspense with wacky, over-the-top comedy in a style they call Madcap Noir. BABYDOLL, the second book in the series just came out this week.