READER FRIDAY: Do You Plant Secrets in Your Books?

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

(These could be hidden gems planted as a “wink & a nod” to insider readers or family and friends.)

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About Jordan Dane

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She is the author of young-adult novels written for Harlequin Teen, the Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins., and the Ryker Townsend FBI psychic profiler series, Mercer's War vigilante novellas, and the upcoming Trinity LeDoux bounty hunter novels set in New Orleans. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs. To keep up with new releases & exclusive giveaways, click HERE

30 thoughts on “READER FRIDAY: Do You Plant Secrets in Your Books?

  1. I often write secondary characters using family members as inspiration. Sometimes I use their real names and give them speaking parts. A crazy aunt portrayed as a crotchety nurse or an uncle as a detective in search hookers.

    In one of my books, I created two characters after my parents. The names were fictitious, but all their quirky habits were mom & dad’s. I can’t read those excerpts without belly laughing in tears. My mom became an odd housekeeper who Swiffered & served ginger snaps, ran facial recognition software, and could pilot a helicopter. My dad was an undercover spy who was a priest, lived in mounds of old magazines like a hoarder & watched his big screen TV with the sound too loud,

    I made my nephew a State Trooper with an addiction to cheese burgers. His mom (my sister) didn’t find out until the book released & she read it. I like for them to find these things on their own, without me hinting. Now they’re eager to read every book to see what surprises are hidden in the pages.

    I immortalized my sweet paternal grandmother in my debut book NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM. When my sister-in-law read the passage, she cried and had to tell me how touched she was over it. Even when I write things like this for me, my family understands and recognizes what I’ve done. That’s how I know they’re paying attention.

      • I hesitate to tell too much about the book, because of a twist, but it’s Echo of Violence (towards the end). After I wrote the scene, I read it to my older brother without much explanation and we both laughed as I read it. He totally got who I referred to. My dad marks pages he wants to remember from magazines by tearing off a corner of the page. He stacks mounds of these “important documents” by his chair. Weird.

  2. All the time!

    Readers rarely notice or comment, though, so I do it more for the fun of it. I imagine some reader, years from now, tripping over the easter eggs and nudges and enjoying them.


  3. Yes! One of my books featured a male antagonist with 4 sons. I changed the first letter of my dad’s and 4 brothers’ names and voila, my villainous crew was christened. I’ve also featured certain other relatives’ names with a single letter changed. (Yes, I am picky about who I choose, so no one is offended – and I always change the name a bit.) We’ve shared great chuckles from it.

  4. In my thriller, THE BLADE, co-written with Lynn Sholes, we had three characters with interesting names: FBI Special Agents Fender and Gibson, and a Dr. Martin from the Department of Energy. If the reader is a guitar player, they’ll get the connection.

  5. I often use the names of people I know, changed slightly or sometimes not at all. I had a close call once, though. I used the name of a guy I went to high school with as a deputy sheriff who was never clearly a good guy or a bad one. Then I was asked to be the honored guest speaker at the reunion of my high school class–and his wife was the chairman of the committee that invited me. Thank goodness Frank was pleased to be included in my book. Just to be sure, I gave him a role in a novella that followed that was undoubtedly “white hat.”

    • HA! Reunion horrors. That’s funny, Richard.

      On two occasions, I held a contest for my YA books where I gave away the right for the winner to be named in my next book as a character. Winners were asked to give me a dozen quirks they are known for. Each character was so much fun, I made them a bigger presence. The list of quirks turned out to be hilariously fun to write.

  6. The protagonist in my novel SCARS ON THE FACE OF GOD was Johannes “Wump” Hozer. Wump’s nickname is clearly identified as earned from a burglary gone wrong, from the sound a crowbar makes when it hits a man’s head. Same nickname as a relative of mine, and for the same reason: A bar owner discovered the relative, a young man at the time, burglarizing his establishment. The relative was carrying a baseball bat. Bat + surprise discovery + attempted apprehension = Wump. Or so the family legend goes.

    • Great story.

      I’ve never written this story, but a friend of mine from a very small town told me that she named everyone in town by a nickname they earned. Her neighbor was Mr. B. O. Plenty. I visualized a whole town of people with names like that.

  7. All. The. Time. I can’t help myself! My family offers too much inspiration for me not to include their, shall we say, “unique” dialogue and one-liners. I’ve also used my dogs (and grand-dogs) for characters’ pets. No better way to memorialize the joy they brought to my life. I can think of a few other things, but if I share why or where, they won’t be secrets any longer. “Three can keep a secret if two are dead.” πŸ˜‰

    • Oh, your dear babies. I love naming my pets in my stories too. I’ve immortalized them, my way of putting words to my fond memories or showing my love. I can imagine what you feel about your babies.

      In fiction, I make my rescue dog Taco catch a Frisbee, something she would never do, because she wouldn’t see the point. (That’s my girl.)

  8. I’ve been on the lookout for chances to do this. So far too wrapped up in the main outlines of my first novel, none of whose characters have sprung directly from my acquaintance. But I did manage to include my stepdaughter’s dog in my short story “The Wetsuit Solution” that won Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest contest and is seeking a publishing acceptance.

  9. I had a good friend who passes away. He was a enthusiastic fan of my writing. Now, I use his name for one of the minor characters in each of my books.

  10. My dog recently passed away and I’m working that into my WIP including how I keep her dog tag on my house keys. It works in the story because I already had my protagonist ‘stealing’ a dog from a crime scene she discovered. It adds a little extra motivation for that.

    Also, my protagonist’s best friend is quite geeky and I’ve added a few references to sci-fi and fantasy tv and movies in the clothes she wears and the things she says. As my protagonist isn’t geeky and they’re not explained, it goes over her head, but hopefully some readers will get it.

  11. I love using what I experience or see or hear. I also use names of my loved ones in my pure-fiction books. I also wrote a book based on a true story with many real names, but also in those only-fiction books I did it too. For example, I have an elder sister. I created two sisters, but the earlier sister had my first name, and her younger sister had my sister’s name.
    But I also used various events. I featured once the practical joke with birthday cake candles my husband played on me. πŸ™‚

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