My last name has caused me problems before. And many, many more that I have yet to write about.
Despite the burden that a last name like Dicks has carried, I never imagined giving it up for a new name.
It may not be pretty, but it’s my name.
I have never been able to understand or respect someone who changes their last name just for the sake of preference. I’ve known a few of these people during my life, and each time, I have continued to use their original last name whenever possible.
I can be a real jerk sometimes.
But my last name hasn’t been all bad. Thanks to Dicks, I learned at an early age that the best place to punch someone is between the eyes and never in the mouth. The stomach is pretty good, too, but only if you know you can get a off a solid punch.
I know lots and lots of people with beautiful last names who would be useless in a fight, so there is something to be said about a name like Dicks.
It toughens you up.
I have two uncles named Harold and they both go by the name Harry Dicks.
My father’s name is Leslie, and he goes by Les Dicks.
You have never met three tougher men.
I like to think I am following in their footsteps, even if my first name is slightly more palatable than theirs.
But after forty years, it turns out that I will be changing my name after all.
We have sold the rights to my next book, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, to nine different countries so far, including the UK. One of the terms in the contract with my UK publisher, Little Brown UK, is that I change my last name for the British version of the book.
While Dicks might be an amusing name in the United States, it is apparently quite offensive in England.
At first I was admittedly taken aback by the request. I was annoyed, disappointed, and a little flummoxed. While my previous two books had not been published in the UK, I knew that the US version of the book had made it across the pond and been read by many, many people there without any complaint.
So why the need for a change now?
After some research into the matter, it turns out that this is not an unusual request, and many authors from the US are asked to change their names for British publishers. Randy, for example, is a first name that is changed quite often in the UK, and there are others.
The British are apparently a sensitive people when it comes to these kinds of things.
Thankfully, my disappointment over the news was cushioned significantly by my introduction to a wonderful editor at Little Brown UK who will be working on my book, as well as a serious commitment from the publisher in regards to the novel and my future career.
It would appear that they love everything about me except my last name.
So came the process of choosing a new last name. My initial thoughts were names like Phallic or Shaft, and had I not already had great respect for my editor at Little Brown UK, I may have forwarded these choices with a glad heart.
But instead, I decided to get serious and choose a more fitting name.
Since I was able to choose anything, it was suggested by a fiend of mine in the publishing business that I opt for a name that would place my books on eye-level shelves in bookstores.
Apparently authors with last names beginning with W often change their name to improve their book shelf position.
Ultimately I sent two names to my publisher and asked for them to choose what they preferred.
The names were Green and Mandeville.
Green is my wife’s maiden name, and Mandeville was my mother’s maiden name.
Either choice would pay homage to someone I loved, and both seemed fitting.
The publisher chose Green almost immediately, liking the single syllable match with my real name, Dicks, as well as the simplicity of the name.
While my mother’s maiden name would have been nice, this choice made my wife quite happy, and I have always believed in the phrase:
Happy wife, happy life.
So after forty years of mild-to-moderate suffering with the last name Dicks, it has finally been changed, at least in one country, and on at least one book.
It’s a strange feeling, having a new name.
I can’t believe that women do this every time they get married.