Monday, November 25, 2013

Easter Eggs and Inside Jokes In Books

First of all, congrats to Miranda Hardy for winning my "Thankful" contest last week. I will make a $50 donation to Direct Relief where all of the money will go directly to help those in the Philippines. I hope all of the generosity shared by so many all over the world inspires you to give. So I challenge all of you to give to. You can match my donation, or offer whatever you can. Every penny matters.

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We all know about fun "easter eggs" in movies and video games, but my favorites are those little hidden gems in books. Sometimes, you'll find the "easter egg" on the cover, other times it'll be in the actual book itself. What's so cool about them is that it's just yet another way for an author to communicate to a reader on a different level. Almost like an inside joke you get to share with your favorite writers.

Here's just a few of the cool hidden messages in books that I've read:

See the nekkid-ness in those eyes?
1) Nekkid Lady in The Great Gatsby.
I had to read this book as a junior in high school, and this was the cover on my book. I thought The Great Gatsby was a pretty damn good book, but one day during class, I started to space out and I stared Daisy's face on the cover and noticed the naked ladies in her eyes. Got my attention!

2) Real Phone Number in Cormier's I Am the Cheese.
In this Young Adult classic, the narrator tries to call a girl from a phone booth. The phone number published was actually Robert Cormier's. And when many kids called and asked for the girl, Cormier would play along and pretend to be the girl's father. When I was a teacher, I called the number and had a great conversation with this amazing author just before he passed away.

3) The Da Vinci Code.
On the inside panel of the hardback's dust cover, you'll see bold letters. If you write each bold letter, you get: ISTHERENOHELPFORTHEWIDOWSSON. Many speculate this has something to do with a speech given in 1974 connecting Freemasonry and the founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The name of that speech given to an audience of Mormons: Is There No Help for the Widow's Son?

4) The Courtship of Princess Leia.
The book that covers Han Solo and Leia's marriage, Solo goes under the alias "Jenos Idanian." You unscramble the letters of that alias, and you've got Indiana Jones. Anagram fun!

5) Stephen King.
King loves to have characters and settings criss-cross all of his novels. There's way too many "easter eggs" in his books to list, but the most obvious has to be IT. Here's just a few:

-Dick Hallorann, the chef at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. In IT, he's a 19 year old Army cook. 
-The setting of IT is Derry, Maine which is the setting of several of his other books including Insomnia, Dreamcatcher, and 11/23/63
-The car from Christine makes an appearance
-There's a reference to Cujo when Beverly Marsh gets trapped in her car and has to pee

In my upcoming novel, Dragonfly Warrior, I have fun with a pair of characters, drawing inspiration from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from William Shakespeare's Hamlet. I have had only ONE beta reader out of eight catch it. I guess you have to be a Shakespeare fan to catch it, though!

Are there any "easter eggs" in music, movies, book, or even video games that are your favorite?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cormier inserted his own phone number? Very clever. And patient - I imagine he got a lot of calls. Very cool you got to speak to him.
Always like the Easter Eggs in movies and video games.

Tony Laplume said...

Literary geek. Love it!

DEZMOND said...

such delight that you took the time to put in those things in your book!

Rusty Webb said...

That's pretty awesome stuff. I know King has made most of his novels interconnected in some way. Some are pretty subtle, but he explains it all in his Dark Tower novels.

I was generally unaware of any of the others you mentioned before. I did catch a reference to one of my favorite SF novels in another SF novel by a different novel. The moment of joy that brought me was amazing.

Jay Noel said...

Alex: Cormier was a late bloomer, as his writing took off after he retired from his journalism career. So yeah, he was VERY patient. I'm glad we got to talk before he passd.

Tony: Keep your eyes open!

Dez: My book if full of fun references. Hopefully some of my readers find them.

Rusty: It's always cool to find one author paying homage to another. King has done a lot of that too.

Julie Dao said...

I love Easter eggs in novels! Very cool that you called the number and actually spoke to the author. And I like the idea of having all of my novels connected in some way, although for me it wouldn't work as well because I write such drastically different genres (my fantasy and contemporary probably wouldn't share any characteristics).

mooderino said...

Hats off to those who pay attention but I never find easter eggs unless I read a reveal on the internet.

Robin said...

This was very interesting. I love the bit about Robert Cormier putting his own number in the book AND you getting to talk with him before he passed. That is a wonderful memory to hold close.

Pat Dilloway said...

I use a lot of inside jokes in my books. I'm sure no one else will ever get them. Sometimes even I don't get them.

M Pax said...

I've made subtle references to shows/characters I love. Hmm, maybe that's in the books I haven't published yet. Cool ideas to add more to the work.

Miranda Hardy said...

Yay! Thank you Jay! Those are contests I love to win.

Love the hidden Easter eggs.

angel, jr. said...

I can't wait to read your upcoming novel!!

David P. King said...

Easter eggs? In books? Now I need to start paying attention. :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I love when that happens! It really makes you feel like an insider or something, doesn't it? :)

And that Cormier story is so great. Makes me want to go back and read that book again.

Maurice Mitchell said...

I never noticed the naked ladies until you said it Jay. Great Easter Eggs. Congrats Miranda!

River Fairchild said...

There are some really cool ideas here! I've used names with particular meanings before as Easter eggs but hadn't thought about cross pollinating my characters. :)

Anonymous said...

I will never ever spot an Easter Egg in a book. Unless it says "Hey this is an Easter egg. Unwrap and enjoy the chocolatey goodness" then it will pass my by.

As for inside jokes...forget about it.

I will however giggle at the most inopportune time.

The Desert Rocks said...

I have a couple in my book that have to do with translation but no one has naturally caught any of it besides I have fun spilling the secret beans.

Mark Koopmans said...

love the idea of secret Easter eggs... I knew about King's, but the others were new to me :-)

Keith B. Darrell said...

My 542-page short story collection Shards was published in between publication of the 2nd and 3rd books in my Halos & Horns fantasy saga. Shards had a quirky foreword written by "Paige Turner", a well-known author of vampire novels. In her foreword, Paige describes how her literary agent Drusilla insisted she read my book, and how she had no desire to, until getting locked in an airplane lavatory with nothing better to do. When the 3rd book in my Halos & Horns fantasy saga came out, "Paige Turner" and her agent "Drusilla Twitch" were revealed to be new (fictional) characters in the series.

David List said...

I looooove easter eggs in books and movies!
Got one from a movie for you. In the Fellowship of the Rings (and I'm assuming you're a fan... I could be wrong), Sean Bean / Boromir picks up the broken shards of Narsil in Rivendell and it cuts his finger. He winces and says, "Still sharp." Bean played a character named Richard Sharpe in a British series "Sharpe". His line is a nod to that role.
(I only know this because while I was in college, all three extended LotR movies played on repeat in my dorm room, cycling through the different commentaries)

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