So, I love the show Heroes, as any red-blooded American geek should. And I recently listened to the episode of Mur Lafferty’s podcast I Should Be Writing, where she interviewed Paul Malmont, author of the Chinatown Death Cloud Peril (and Paul Malmont is on my list of "good guys" because, although I haven’t read his novel, he didn’t start writing novels until he was roughly my age, which makes me feel better about that whippersnapper who wrote, in an issue of Writers’ Digest a couple of years ago, that 32 was "a bit old" to start writing).
What these two items have in common is "Easter eggs". Heroes is full of them, from Stan Lee as the bus driver a couple of episodes back to Hiro’s dad’s license plate ("NCC-1701"); you know, little inside jokes and bits of humor that writers and producers put into the show as nods to the people who are really looking for such things (of course, there are such "Easter eggs" in video games and DVD menus as well, but I’m not counting those because I’ve never been clever enough to find any of those). Lost is full of this kind of thing as well: little tiny clues that may or may not offer just a tad more insight into what’s going on, or at least a little more amusement or intrigue for sharp-eyed viewers. And in his interview, Malmont said that he’s put a few little Easter eggs like that into his novel. As I said, I haven’t read the novel, so I’m not privy to any of those little gems, but I’m sure they’re there and I’m sure they’re clever.
And naturally, because I am a narcissist, I began to think about my own writing. I’ve thrown a few little Easter eggs into Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster; not to be pretentious or anything, just because I thought it was fun to have the cat be named Banzai, or have Jenny Grist imprisoned in Cell 37 of Doctor Nefario’s prison. These don’t really mean anything; they’re just symptoms and signs of the overly narcissistic and perhaps fatally self-referential culture in which we live.
Then there’s my Mollyverse stories, which are sort of turning into one huge Easter egg hunt, if you will, what with all the little references to one another that I’m deliberately putting in. The challenge with that — and the reason I’ve stalled so long with The Winds of Patwin County — is putting in these references in such a way so that each story can be read and enjoyed on its own, but all of the Easter eggs, when taken together, create an additional layer of narrative which gives deeper insight into the stories.
Man, I like saying shit like that. "Create an additional layer of narrative." Makes me sound smart, like my five years of college working for that philosophy degree weren’t wasted after all.
What about you? Have you written any Easter eggs or inside jokes into any of your stories? What are some of your favorite examples, both in your own writing or in others’?