Celebrity Bargain Bin Books
July 26, 2006 11:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for books by famous people that they wrote early in their career or under a nom de plume.

I'm writing a roundup of books by celebrities that they probably wish had never been published--books that are probably embarrassing now that they'd written earlier in their career. For instance, Dan Brown wrote a book of dating advice under a nom de plume, and Bill O'Reilly wrote a crappy thriller. Already got Jewel and Ethan Hawke and Suzanne Somers' and Leonard Nimoy's books and poetry on there...other recommendations? The stinkier the better!

posted by clairezulkey to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When he was 12, H.G. Wells wrote and illustrated a book called "The Desert Daisy," supposedly by someone named Buss. I was hoping to find an online copy, but I can't. There's a blurb about it here.
posted by grumblebee at 11:45 AM on July 26, 2006

Oh, a young Martin Amis wrote a book about video games.
posted by grumblebee at 11:47 AM on July 26, 2006

Martin Amis wrote a book on strategies for beating video games, called Invasion of the Space Invaders.

Here's an article at the Village Voice that coves this subject.
posted by Prospero at 11:48 AM on July 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Anais Nin originally wrote the erotic stories later published as Delta of Venus for private porn collectors in the 1940's, at the agreed rate of $1 / page. In her Diaries, she commented on getting back comments from her patrons, in which they suggested she write "less imagery, more sex." This was her first experience with literary criticism.

Delta of Venus was published in 1969, well before her death in 1977, and earned some literary notice at the time of publication, but the wider interest it brought in her early life was not entirely welcome, and she eventually thought that the fame and money it earned her were not worth the prurient interest that it attached her name.
posted by paulsc at 11:54 AM on July 26, 2006

For instance, Dan Brown wrote a book of dating advice under a nom de plume
Don't want to derail, but... what is it called, and what name did he use?

posted by inigo2 at 12:08 PM on July 26, 2006

Lynne Cheney's bodice-ripper?
posted by TheRaven at 12:12 PM on July 26, 2006

This one has been on my Amazon wishlist for a long time.
posted by gnomeloaf at 12:24 PM on July 26, 2006

Not stinky, but these four short novels were written by Steven King as Richard Bachman before he became famous. They are actually better than much of what came after.
posted by The Bellman at 12:29 PM on July 26, 2006

Signifying Rappers, co-written by David Foster Wallace. IIRC it has sheet music for “Paid in Full” in an appendix.
posted by hilker at 12:34 PM on July 26, 2006

I came here to post Steven King's early pseudonym, but was beat to it by The Bellman.

Specifically though, check out The Running Man. It is a fantastic book (novella?) which bears little resemblance to the 80's action movie that it was made into. The only similarities are the character's names and the fact that the protagonist is being hunted.
posted by utsutsu at 12:43 PM on July 26, 2006

Robert Heinlein wrote several stories, and possibly a novel, under pseudonyms, early in his career, at least in part because pulp authors wanted to run more of his stuff, but didn't want his byline in the magazine multiple times per month.
posted by baylink at 12:45 PM on July 26, 2006

Adelle Davis wrote Exploring Inner Space: Personal Experiences Under LSD-25 under the pen name Jane Dunlap. This was before she became a best-selling diet and fitness writer. I have not read the book, but I understand the descriptions in it are quite vivid. She was apparently very enthusiastic.
posted by alms at 12:52 PM on July 26, 2006

William Shakespeare's little-known play, "Vortigern and Rowena" was actually written by William Ireland, an 18th Century novelist.
posted by grumblebee at 1:22 PM on July 26, 2006

This has inspired me to request Invasion of the Space Invaders from my university library (currently checked out).
posted by Gnatcho at 1:31 PM on July 26, 2006

Anne Rice wrote erotica under the names Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure; the film Exit To Eden is loosely based on some of those writings.
posted by TedW at 1:44 PM on July 26, 2006

Ann Rice also writes erotic fiction under the names Ann Rampling and A.N Roquelaure
posted by necessitas at 1:47 PM on July 26, 2006

Oops, should have previewed.
posted by necessitas at 1:47 PM on July 26, 2006

James Oliver Rigney, Jr has been hugely successful writing under the pen name Robert Jordan, but he's also written under a couple of other pen names, Jackson O'Reilly and Reagan O'Neal. You'll notice that he writes under names which share his real name's initials.
posted by junkbox at 1:48 PM on July 26, 2006

Don DeLillo wrote some kind of potboiler called "Amazons" under the name Cleo Birdwell.
posted by jga at 2:49 PM on July 26, 2006

Tell Me About Women, "a frank novel of modern young love, hasty marriage, and what follows," by future newsman Harry Reasoner. Supposed to be much better than Bill O'Reilly's book.
posted by barjo at 3:21 PM on July 26, 2006

Hm. Looks like maybe you'd wanted books written by people who were famous for something else, rather than embarrassing first novels from people who later became (somewhat) well-known writers, but you seem to be getting the second. If you are looking for bad first novels that the authors would prefer to forget, Caleb Carr has this one. That's assuming the reviewer who says he's Carr really is, but why not?
posted by dilettante at 3:22 PM on July 26, 2006

Actress Ally Sheedy published a book at age 12: She Was Nice To Mice.
posted by barjo at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2006

Stephen Collins, the actor wrote "Eye Contact" and I believe he has written other books. Eye contact was actually pretty good. I mean, I read it years ago, and I do like the actor so maybe that is why I enjoyed it...but, maybe not!!!
posted by peglam at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2006

Louisa May Alcott's Behind a Mask: Or, A Woman's Power-- exactly the sort of trashy Gothic thriller (sex! death! violence!) that she would condemn, through her characters, in her later "recognized" works. Ditto, despite its peachy-keen-we're-a-children's-book title, The Mysterious Key, and What It Opened. However, my understanding is that her earlier "thriller" career stayed pretty quiet until recently, and since she died a century ago, I don't think she's particularly embarrassed. I could be wrong.
posted by posadnitsa at 8:05 PM on July 26, 2006

Agatha Christie published six very undistinguished "romance" novels under the name Mary Westmacott. Not too stinky, but still.
posted by jweed at 12:29 AM on July 27, 2006

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