In Stephen King’s novel The Dark Half, writer Thad Beaumont is terrorized by the living embodiment of his pen name, a doppelganger calling itself George Stark. Evil duplicates are nothing new in genre fiction; Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out, the film Us, looks to use that trope to creepy effect. Seriously. Check out the trailer. (Potential review once it’s out, for sure!)
Thus, you can imagine my surprise when I found that, I too, have an evil twin. At first, I didn’t think much of it. When trying to make sure new releases were assigned to my author page on Goodreads, I noticed that all of my books were showing under the profile of another Daniel Humphreys, and this Daniel had dozens upon dozens of … cookbooks?
For a while now, it’s been something to laugh about. With each new release, I have to contact one of the Goodreads librarians to have my books moved to the correct profile. I’ll make the obligatory Highlander joke (“There can be only one!”) and ask if I should perhaps meet the other to arm wrestle for the rights to my name. With Amazon, it’s a much easier process – I log in, claim the rights to the book, and Mr. Bezos’ magical garden gnomes do the rest with no fuss and no muss.
Recently, though – there’s been an escalation. Another writer confronted me on Twitter, asking why I was stealing recipes from other cookbooks. After we cleared up the confusion, I now had something else to ponder: the other was, truly, an evil twin.
I was, to be honest, baffled at first at the thought of stealing a recipe. Up till then, I’ve always looked at them as something like, oh, chemistry formulas. Out there to be known, unless it’s trademarked, or something. But theft is theft, particularly when you’re taking shortcuts on the back of someone else’s work. And then there’s stuff like this:
I mean, I’m no copyright expert, but I feel pretty certain you can’t just use the Harry Potter logo and font like that. Amazon seems to have pulled this cookbook, at least, so maybe Evil Dan has overstepped his bounds.
How to address it, going forward? When I search for my name on Amazon, two of the top three results are Evil Dan. My stuff’s in there, too, though. I don’t know what the crossover appeal between urban fantasy and post-apocalyptic sci-fi and cookbooks is. Maybe a prepping cookbook?
I suppose I could always add an initial. Dean Koontz used to be Dean R. Koontz, after all. Good grief, though, my name’s long enough as it is. Shorten things up? Most people who know me call me Dan; my nephew is named Daniel, and when I hear my full name outside of a con context, I get twitchy, thinking I’m in trouble. But … no. Like Michael Bolton said in Office Space …
For better or worse, I’m sticking with my own name. But if a goatee’d man tries to peddle you a kale cookbook alongside some fun urban fantasy … don’t trust it. Run.
And Evil Cookbook Dan? Stop stealing stuff, dude. Not cool.