Competition Ended

The DS-2 Proof Dustjacket
Silly name Challenge

Open to: Hodder Territories

For other competitions, go to my Competition Page

Flyleaf DS2

Jaaaasper with the wraparound dustjacket to DS-1. Why do my hands look so weird?

Another worthless giveaway. I got sent two of these as I usually do every launch, for my approval. It has been folded once in the middle, but otherwise good nick. Although not the first book signed, it is the first DS2 something signed.

I thought we'd do a quickie competition for this, which required no skill at all - just parents with somewhat unusual choices when it comes to children's names.

Yes, it's true, after eight years of therapy, I can finally admit that I have a silly name. Jasper Fforde is my real name and not some daft pseudonym, and my father did indeed spell his name with the two Fs and the E.

It could have been worse. I could have been Torquil. I was born in middle-class Hampstead in 1961, and that's the sort of names that were being bandied around.

Anyway, all you had to dowas have a name that is either as silly or sillier than mine, or one that needs to be constantly explained to people who say: 'Eh?' when you tell them what your name is.

(A lifetime of explaining the spelling, for me, and people who think it's hilarious to pronounce it 'F-F-Fordeee". There's also the added dynamic of prejudgement with a name like mine, especially if one talks (as I do) with a mildly posh home counties accent. "Talks proper? Called Jaaaarsper? Must be a knob.")

I like it now I'm older, although like many I wanted an ordinary name - Jim, if you must know. Silly names become like your old teddy bear. You don't think much of them, but you'd miss them if they suddenly vanished.

The only rule is that it MUST be your real name, the one you were born with, AND most importantly the one that you still have -unaltered - today. With a short explanation of the amusing trials and tribulations you might have encountered with it.

Oh, and please don't send me your 'There was a guy at school called Crispen Golden*' suggestions - I need to hear it from those who actually have the name.

People with silly names, unite!

Competition closed on the last day of October 2011.

The entrants: Scroll down to reveal the winner and the two 'Highly Commended' entrants, all of which receive an export paperback edition of DS2.

Thanks for everyone who entered, and those who thought about doing so but never did.

31st Oct 2011:

Donna Trenholm writes:

I like your Silly Name competition - but it's a bit unfair on us married ladies who stayed all traditional and have taken our husband's names! Had I known that this competition was coming up back then...

Anyhow, fully anticipating being disqualified here goes : as seems to be a trend despite being fairly ordinary my first name and both my surnames (maiden and married) have caused trouble over the years.

Let's start with Donna:

1) people think it's really funny to call me Madonna and ask if they can borrow my pointy bra, (especially rife when I was at school, but still comes up now a good 20 years later ).

2) I earned the nickname kebab, and many additional puns about how tasty I am (or not as the case may be)

3) When in Italy as a student people were decidedly uncomfortable using my first name, effectively calling me 'woman' - one person very memorably compensated by insisting on calling me by the name 'eengleesh' because if course that felt much nicer, didn't it.

That's the top three, I won't go into detail about the other garbled spellings which for such a simple name, e.g. donut, donah, and having the song' Donna' (and oh yes, joy, there's more than one) sung at me in public.

Edwards: Headwords, Deadwords, the dragon (a nice little nod nod to the Welshness there), edward woodward.

Trenholm: You can spell it out all you want but they'll always sneak in an extra d or t in the middle and an e on the end, guaranteed. But the best is the duplicate junk mail I get address to Mrs D Trenkoch and Mrs D Trenhorn. I kid you not, always the two together, identical mailings from the same dodgy mailing list still coming after 8 years since the first pair landed on the mat.

Madonna Deadwords-Trenkoch

31st Oct 2011:

My name is Wanrong. Which doesn't seem funny at all.
Except it's read as "One-Wrong".
So my elementary school teachers used to joke when I made a mistake on my tests: "Oh, of course, you had to get 'one wrong', not all the questions right."
Or as my husband likes to joke: "She's the 'one wrong' in my life."

And for some strange reason, many people, when they hear my name, think I'm called Monroe (as in Marilyn Monroe). I have no idea why!

I live in Singapore, so maybe I don't even qualify, but thought I'd share.

Wan Yong Lim, Singapore

30th Oct 2011:

My name is Vaudin Cole.

Reading that I'm sure you'd think that my first name is the only silly bit, but I should point out that at the age of 11 I was given an assignment at school to research coal mining on the West Coast of New Zealand... 'nuff said!

But then we return to my first name, which is to the best of my knowledge unique as a first name, although occurs in my family from time to time as a middle name having been passed down my maternal line from Jersey. This is a story which I have often had to repeat throughout my life, not the least being at work ("Oh that's an [unusual/lovely/strange/uncommon/any other word here] name, where's it from??").

Constantly I have the situation where I'll either tell people my name and they'll write it as it sounds (Voden), or they'll see it written and I'll be called Vor-din no matter how many times I correct it. Before this there were the wonderful days at school where I'd get called a lot of wonderful names just to annoy me - the most memorable now is Voltron, who was some cartoon robot character on TV in years gone by.

So maybe my quirky, unpronounceable, unspellable and great name can win me a quirky dustjacket from an unpronounceable author!

Vaudin Cole, New Zealand

29th Oct 2011:

My third child, a boy...well, a man now, I suppose....is called Kell. It was considered a little odd in the UK, where we lived when he was born. Everyone assumed it was short for Kelvin...which it emphatically isn't, and he was constantly asked to spell it....but after we moved to France it took on a whole new set of problems. Kell, spoken, sounds like 'quel'...ie, 'what' in French. ' Picture the conversations he dealt with everyday of his life...

'What's your name?'
' What.'

And on it went. Sorry, Kell...I hadn't envisaged living in France when i named you! Actually, for the record, the name is, I think Celtic in origin, meaning 'from the well'. No real significance to that, just liked the name!

Joanna Simm

29th Oct 2011:

A rose by any other name ... well, my name is not Rose and it certainly has not been sweet for me. My mother, as a new entrant teacher, had a thing about children finding it difficult to spell long and cumbersome names. So she insisted on a short name for me: Sue.

Not Susan, Suzanne, Susannah or Suzie. Just Sue. Do you think anyone believes that? No. All my life I have had to correct people, saying "it's not Susan, it's Sue." It seems people immediately assume my Sue is an abridged form. And that is only half the problem. We come to my surname. Reddy.

Are you ready? Ready or not? These are just two of the ever-so-funny and original things people have come up with over the years. So hilarious. And spelling it too involves explanation - no "A" in there please.

At least I didn't have my father' Neil's problem, being constantly asked if he was "Neilly Reddy". I must admit, however, that I was very READY to change my name when marriage permitted it, if only to spare my children the same embarrassment I suffered when their friends discovered it. But I thought I would share this anyway.

Sue Reddy (as was) New Zealand

27th Oct 2011:

For your question on names. I was born with Eva Knapp (pronounced nap) which I love because my goal in life is to recline (two consonents are sleeping). My married name is unique because there aren't many Graalmans on the planet. When spelling it out to anyone, no one wants to put in that extra A no matter how many times I tell them it's there. Extra vowels in a name trumps extra consonents, Mr. FFFForde. Having two vowels in my first name (when it's only three letters) is bonus points.

When I first married into Graalman, I asked my husband if we could pronounce it Grail -man, becasue that's what others were saying and I liked the reference to it being the Holy Grail. He said okay, but that's not really how we say it. It's pronounced Grawl - man. We've gotten funny variations from people calling out our name at restaurants and tennis tournament (which we call each other now) Grellin, Grogan, Groman, Gremelmier, Gremelman, and a favorite, Gremlin.

Eva K. Graalman

EVA is also an anagram for extra vehicular activity, and it may be a computer app. It's also been hurricanes and of course ultimate evil's girlfriend (doesn't every woman have an old boyfriend in the past we really really regret dating). Eva Gabor's antics didn't help our name. But, I still like it. It's short and recognizeable like Cher.

27th Oct 2011:

Now this amuses me. Coincidentally we have two entrants, Sarah Barker and Sarah Baker. If you read them through, Sarah Barker is annoyed at being mistaken for Sarah Baker, and yes, Sarah Baker is annoyed at being mistaken for Sarah Barker...

Now, I realise my name is not at all that odd. Sarah Barker, you would think would cause me no trouble at all. But the amount of times that I have had to spell it all out. I've been Sahra Baker, Sara Baker, Sarah Parker etc. To be clear to everyone now, Sarah without the 'h' is not Sarah so don't bother asking the inevitable question, "is that with or without an 'h'?" The one person who gets my goat the most about this is Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox. She pronounces it as Sarah but spells it as Sara. She is not a Sarah. My surname however, baffles me the most. I clearly say Barker, with a noticeable 'r' in the middle. I even emphasise it sometimes, playing on the fact that I live in Wiltshire and can get away with sounding like a farmer. Even so, that 'r' must get lost in the ether and the word enters people's ears as Baker.

I also live in a town called Calne, which I understand is a tricky spelling for people on the phone who have never heard of it before, but I once had a letter through the post to Sara Baker, Kaine, Wilshire (yes, Wiltshire without a 't'). The only way to react was to laugh.

So whilst it's a minor inconvenience to my life (after all I do like my name), I thought it worthy of your competition.

Sarah Barker.

27th Oct 2011:

You wouldnt think my name is silly - Sarah Baker, but I have had a life time of people taking the mick out of me because of my name. Bake-a-Cake is the most long running and everyone thinks they are being oh so original when they say it. People have often enquired if I might bake something for them - thats not annoying in the slightest. Bake-hers-doesnt (which I think was supposed to be a play on bakers dozen but since it was intended as an insult I have never enquired).

When my mum was pregnant with me everyone (including her doctor) asked if the Baker had a bun in the oven. Then people get my name confused, but still go with the food theme and call me Sarah Bacon. An R will get added into my name for no reason and I become Sarah Barker (including being set up on the computer at work with the wrong spelling). Often the B will be missed off altogether and I will be Sarah Acre. The H will be dropped off the end of Sarah continually no matter how many times I spell it out. One more problem I have with my name is that people seem to mishear it completely, though how when I tell people my name is Sarah they hear either Lisa or more bizarely Claire I really do not know (and this isnt one or 2 people - this happens to me often)

It seems like even the most straight forward ordinary names can end up being bloody silly and certainly cause no end of problems or license for people to make fun of you.

At least I didnt get stuck with my cousins surname - Baguley. Believe no end of misspellings and hilarious pronounciations have come out of that name


26th Oct 2011:

My name is Ruhee D'cunha, and I'm pretty darn proud of that apostrophe. Unfortunately, living in a country full of Patels and Sharmas and other such, a name spelled 'D-apostrophe-c-u-n-h-a', was just asking for trouble. People calling up for me or, more commonly, my father, will go, "K-uhn-ha? K-oon-ha?" and most probably forget the D to begin with.

And not to forget the problems associated with filling up forms online, where they don't accept characters in the names, so my ID card and other such read 'Dcunha' and I miss the apostrophe even more. To top it off, my father used to fill up my forms like this 'D'cunha Ruhee Lancelot', which was worse, because people think a) I'm a boy, b) I'm foreign, or c) I'm giving them a fake name.

Oh, and my first name. I love my first name, but everyone will insist on spelling it 'Ruhi', even my grandparents. Especially my grandparents. Freak that I am, I take a black marker to my birthday cards every year, systematically crossing out the 'i's and replacing them with 'ee's.

Thanks for listening, and Happy Diwali.


25th Oct 2011:

Being in the same age group as Jasper, I too, suffered parents who wanted a 'nice, distinctive' name for their child. So here goes: Alayne Gail Denise Alvis. It's not actually silly - more impractical and a bloody nuisance to spell.

For starters, my dear mother picked my first name out of a trashy novel and it's damn difficult for people to get the hang of. I've taken to using the NATO phonetic alphabet as I tend to loose people after the first syllable ...Alpha...Yankee...November, etc. My second name is a Dad joke, to quote: "Alayne Gail, born in a storm". Fortunately, my second middle name (what were they thinking? Two middle names?) has no strings, jokes or crazy spellings attached.

I can thank my Dutch ancestors for a family name nearly as difficult for people to spell as my first name. How hard can five letters be? I usually get "Alvin, Avis or Elvis". And of course, some people seem to think that their Elvis/ Alvis joke is somehow new and novel to me, but not after 50-odd years.



**Highly commended**

A paperback export edition of DS-2 goes to Thérèse, so long as she shares it with her nephews and nieces.

26th Oct 2011:

I personally think my name is fine, but everybody else seems to have a problem with it! It's Thérèse O'Hagan-Smyth and the main problems come with trying to spell and pronounce my first name. I can repeat it a million times, but the other person will inevitably still call me 'Theresa', 'Teresa' or give up completely and call me Terry because 'I once had a friend with your name and she liked being called Terry'. Right.

Christmas cards are always fun, I've had many variations including 'Teres', 'Zharase' and 'Traze', which unfortunately rather caught on in the sixth form. O'Hagan seems to be fine but oh no, don't even try to use Smyth. So that's with an 'i' is it? No, a 'y'. Ah, so it's Smythe? No...it's Smyth, as I first said. It can go on for what feels like hours! It's Smyth, pronounced like Smith. It's really not hard.

I know you didn't want stories of other people, but my middle sister has given her 4 children some impressive names so I've included them for your amusement. They're Raphael StJohn Smith, Fabian Caradog Jones, Agnes Gloria Smith and Lucian Cystennin Jones. Note that she uses the 'i' version of Smith for ease but then uses both her and her husband's surnames alternately for the children. Like that's not confusing for everyone!


25th Oct 2011:

Hi, my name is Amy Willing, which is not all that hilarious unless you have a liking for silly puns.

It is amazing how many people just love to say 'as in ready, willing and able?' and then crack up, upon hearing my name. And whenever there is a task to be done, somebody invariably puts their hand up and says, 'Please miss, Amy's willing!'.

Nobody can quite believe that my last name would be Willing, and when I am on the phone or talking to new people, I get all sorts of variations, like Williams, or Wallam or my personal favourite, Willy. And then there is my nickname: Aiming Willy.

It's not so bad, though, I really don't mind my name. It could be worse - my father could have called me God, like he is always threatening.


**Outright Winner**

The wraparound proof cover and a paperback export edition of DS-2 goes to Herb Erb.

25th Oct 2011:

Some people think I have a silly name -- at least one that is unusual: Herb Erb. Officially, it's Herbert Bell Erb II, as I was named after my father. But I go by Herb as a general rule.

I really don't have too much trouble with my name. It is easily remembered, and that is often a plus. Sometimes when someone such as a hotel desk clerk or a dentist's receptionist comments on the alliterative nature of my name or its uniqueness or how much ribbing I must get, I say, "You know, I've never thought of it before, but I guess it is a little unusual, isn't it? You're the first person to ever mention it." Best wishes,

Herb Erb

24th Oct 2011:

My name is Claus Colloseus, I am from Germany.

In fact, my family has been living there for 350 years, but still, the name sounds and spells extremely unusual for everyone who hears it for the first time. In general, there are two reactions:

Those who read the name first will almost certainly pronounce it wrong. You see, in German, the combination "eu" is pronounced as "oi", while for my name, having a bit of a latin background, it must be "e-oo", with the accent on the e. English speakers will get it much more easily right, I think. So, being called up, for example, at a doctor, is often a challenge in terms of recognising my own name.

Those who hear the name first will in most cases say: "Oh, this name sounds like it is from XYZ, am I right?" Interestingly, everyone believes to hear another origin. In order of occurence for XYZ:

1. Greek
2. Italian
3. Latin
4. Hungarian

And everyone needs it spelled. No exceptions. Well, no, there is one: my hometown. As I said, my family has been living there for a few hundred years, and they were always prominent members of the community. Having moved away 23 years ago, I had all of forgotten about that. But then, this spring, I was on a visit and had to employ the services of a hairdresser. When making a date, the desk clerk, to my shock, took my name without even blinking, and he got it right writing it down on the first try! It was a much stranger feeling than having constantly to spell my name.

Claus Colloseus

22nd Oct 2011:

Hi, my name is Karlis Kazocins.

At first glance it doesn't seem too difficult but being a Latvian name it also contains four accents which an e-mail simply cant do justice to (since I don't know how to add them).

This means that over the years at school where I am called out in any assembly by name at first even i'm not sure who they are calling up.

Furthermore my name generally leads to receiving a call from a company to be followed by a spluttering 'is that mr. ka... kaz.... kazo...', at which point I take pity on them and reply 'yes, this is he'.

I always spell my name from the get go when giving it out now rather than saying it first and getting that look of bewilderment, i even sometimes say it phonetically on the phone to companies to make it easier for them.

Moving to my christian name, when introducing myself 'Hi, i'm Karlis' I sometimes get 'Car-less, then how did you get here, Ho Ho' (I've never heard that one before). To make matters worse I now work for a company owned by a spanish company so every so often I seem to become Carlos. (This isn't as much of an inconvenience as I was called this at university by one friend for 3 years, it just seemed to stick in his head despite knowing better).

Still, I wouldn't change it for the world.

Kind Regards


Ps: When translated to english my name is charles and my surname is a type of fur coat. So my name is also... Charlie Furry Coat!

21st Oct 2011:

Oy, have I waited years to unburden myself on account of my outlandish sounding surname!
Never mind the perennial problem of getting people to spell it right.
In kindergarten I was asked what it was I stifle.
Then I became a stiff (gin and) lemon, followed by a Big Stiff.
And school mates into fishing just "loved" Stickleback.
BTW - do I qualify as DS-0?

Oh, and the Hebrew transliteration of my surname fares no better.

David Stiffelman, Israel.

20th Oct 2011:

My name is Francesca Brightley. Along with a lot of other people, I have spent a large proportion of my life spelling my name to people.. Francesca is not an easy one for most people to grasp. My favourite miseplnig of it so far is Franschekka. And then there's the "no no, Brightley with an 'E' - l E y..." or "as in the sun shines". Also, when I was at school, I had a lot of people think it was funny to call me Frankenstein. It wasn't. Especially when I was going through my awkward phase with the train tracks and the big plastic NHS glasses. One of my science teachers called me Miss Dimley for 2 years. At least that was a bit more original!

I think the most annoying thing though is that on the phone, whenever I say my name, people always think I say Jessica. Jessica is a lovely name, but it's not my one... I consider myself lucky though, because my Mum's name is Christabel Brightley.

Franchexa Brightly

20th Oct 2011:

My name is Heidi Curson, now Curson is fine, with the exception of people occasionally spelling it with a z instead of a s....... Heidi however is a whole different matter!

Spelling seems to be the key issue. The first clue should have been that my mum had to spell it out on the back of a fag packet for my dad when he went to register my birth! From then it escalated, I never knew there were so many different ways to spell it. Most people spell it Hiedi, which isn't too bad, but i've had a's, y's extra d's. I think the best has been Hydeee. I would like to add that most of these mis-spell's have come from my Nan, who in my 32 years has never spelt my name correct it any christmas or birthday card.

The other bane of my of life has been as the result of 2 television programmes from my early childhood. Firstly Heidi the story about the little girl with plaits in her hair who lives in the mountains with her grandfather, and who if memory serves accidentally pushes people in wheelchairs down mountains. So everywhere I went people would ask about my grandfather, and sing the theme tune at me, or say how lovely my hair was as my mother saw fit to put it in plaits!! The other programme is of course Hi-De-Hi..... everywhere I used to go I'd get Hi Heidi, or Heidi Hi which would then be followed by laughter as if it was the funniest thing I'd ever heard. Even now I get it followed by the occasional 'morning campers' in a rather dodgy attempt at a welsh accent.

When will the truma end?


18th Oct 2011:

My name is Justine Trombley. You wouldn't think this would be a particularly silly name, but it has attracted a surprising amount of silliness over the years. When read off a paper, my first name has always managed to turn me into a boy.

For some reason, no one is able to see the 'e' at the end of my name, so for most of my life I have been called 'Justin' by more people than I can count. I've received letters and emails that address me as 'Mr. Trombley'. Additionally, whenever I say my name aloud to people, no one can hear it properly. It's always either 'Christine' or 'Justina' or even 'Josephine'.

My surname is a bastardization of 'Tremblay', which has attracted no end of misspellings and, once, a high school French teacher who actually told me that my last name was just plain 'wrong'.

After all is said and done, though, I love my name and would never change it.


17th Oct 2011:

I realize I'm not a part of the Hodder Territories, but when I saw your silly name competition, I felt I had to come clean.

Since birth I have been "Hopeless", literally. My father felt it would be clever to give me a name that he was sure no one would ever notice was a longer word that it appeared at first glance. Well, people were not quite as clueless as he thought. While my mother was recovering from labor, my father decided to name me Hope Leslie Gaither. From grade school on, I was Hopeless to all of my school friends and teachers. My mother was not pleased to say the least. Although you can get used to almost anything.

After getting married, I compounded the silliness by becoming Hope Leslie Gaither-Geiger. It garnered so many comments that I dropped the Gaither completely, but alas, I remain Hopelessly Geiger.

Your books are some of my favorites and I can't wait to read the next one. I hope that my silly name lightens your burden just a little bit, even if I'm not eligible for the competition.

Thanks for your time,


17 Oct 2011:

My name is Andrew Esseen - not so silly, you may think. But consider, if you will, a life-time of having to explain that is it "Ess - een, and not Essen or Essun", or that whenever I take the cowards way out and try to spell I get no further than "E-S-S..." before I get prompted to repeat starting with "S what?". FInally, there is also the emotional trauma of going through school being called "Obscene" - and that by the teachers!

I may also be slightly guilty here, were my daughter to consider entering. Being a proud Welshman married to an English woman I put my foot down at the birth of my second daughter and insisted on Welsh names. Consequently, she is "Carys Sian" - good job she doesn't lisp!


**Highly Commended**

A paperback export edition of DS-2 goes to Mr Kitchen, for having to put up with the 'You Nit' jokes.

16th Oct 2011:

My silly name is Brian Douglas Kitchen. I've never been too bothered about the Brian Douglas bit but I've always thought Kitchen was a stupid name. All my life I've been Kitchen sink, Kitchen diner etc. but the most annoying one was a teacher at seconday school who insisted on saying "Kitchen you nit" whenever I got a question wrong, it seemed to go on for years.

My wife and kids don't mind the name, so maybe it's just me.



13th Oct 2011:

My name is Simon Belcher and I have a silly name. I hated my name when at school (wonder why) and this still occasionally raises its head resulting, for example, in my refusal to shop in Tesco while they showed their Bell-Share advert last Christmas.

I'm hoping that winning the cover would go some small way to assist my attenpts to reconcile my thoughts about my name and learn to love it... and at least I'm not my brother Adrian, who is unfortuneately A Belcher.

By the way, we have avoided passing on this torture to our children who are Sargants - we just need to keep them out of the army...

Regards, Simon.


The prize is a signed copy of the DS UK proof flyleaf cover. There are no runner-up prizes unless I decide there are.

The entries may be selected to be viewed on my website, and it is a condition of entry that you are happy for this to be done.

Competition is open to everyone in the Hodder territories

It MUST be your real name, the one you were born with, AND the one that you still wear -unaltered - today.

Entries to jasper(at)jasperfforde.com, and not TOO long, please.

No emails will be harvested by me or my publishers.

It is a condition of entry that this is all for fun and not at all serious.

This is a promotion by Jasper Fforde and is not connected to my UK publishers.

Winner will be announced after the 1st November 2011

Judges (me) decision is final.

*There was, he went to my school. I think he calls himself Chris these days, so would be ineligible for this competition.