Me & My Namesake and a Seagull Make Three
When I retired from the practice of law and began writing fiction (as opposed to lawyerly documents which, as everyone knows, contain only the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth) the first hurdle came from my name. Richard Bach had already been taken. And taken well – emblazoned on the covers of millions of copies of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions, The Bridge Across Forever and Richard Bach’s other amazing flights of philosophy. We have a common denominator in a collection of letters.
But as I write this, that Richard Bach (whom I think of as ‘the real Richard Bach’) is lying in a Seattle hospital recovering from serious injuries sustained when his light plane hit some power wires while he was landing on Orcas Island a couple of months ago – at about the same time I was trying to do some marketing of my newly published novel, COMMON ENEMY.
Trading on a Name: To do or not? That is the question.
Which raised the ethical issue. Could I trade on publicity attendant to his misfortune to raise awareness of my name and my book? In Illusions, Richard Bach’s hero would turn to The Messiah’s Handbook for tidbits of wisdom to guide him through his dilemmas. I did the same thing, and randomly opened to: “The original sin is to ignore the Is. Don’t.”
Fortunately, I pondered the meaning of that Nostradamian prediction for too long and was spared the decision. Once it became clear that he was out of danger, Richard’s name and accident quickly faded from the news and I was far too slow to take advantage even if I had wanted to. And perhaps that was the purpose of the passage from the Messiah’s Handbook – to paralyze me with temporary indecision and prevent me from doing something wrong.
In any event, I have convinced myself that the byline on my Common Denominator Series – Richard David Bach – is sufficiently different from the Richard Bach he uses and given that we write in different genres, I don’t believe that I am shamelessly trading on his name.
Or am I? What do you think?