Writers’ Easter Eggs

It’s that time of the year and I started thinking off to one side, as I tend to.surprise!

I know that software engineers and game developers hide little surprises in their stuff all the time. They’re called Easter Eggs. Some are legendary. In the 1997 versions of Microsoft Office, a flight simulator and a pinball game were hidden in Excel and Word, and could only be revealed through an arcane series of keystrokes and commands. Cool. The Easter Egg Archive has a huge repository of these, not only in software, but on DVDs, in music, and in movies. But don’t go there yet. Finish reading my post first.

I maintain writers have been doing this forever. We include little in-jokes and references all the time, inconsequential nods that will only make sense to a few. The great bulk of readership won’t get them, or even notice them, but we have a feeling of glee at their inclusion and the thought that somewhere, someday, someone will read that particular sentence and will squee. Loudly. Possibly drop the book, then have to pick it up again before squeeing some more.

It’s more than an easter egg. It’s a time bomb of the nicest sort just lying in wait. It may never go off, but when it does …

Over the course of writing thirty-odd books, I’ve had plenty of time to indulge in this. I’ve dropped in references that my family will get, I’ve used slightly disguised names of schools I’ve spoken at, I’ve had cameo appearances by pets of friends, I’ve used street names based on places I’ve lived and I’ve popped in details that avid readers of my blog will recognise and chuckle at. I’ve referenced clothes that a privileged few will recognise. I’ve mentioned meals I’ve prepared for friends. I’ve dropped in little out of context quotes from favourite movies. I’ve featured significant turns of phrase and those in the know will understand just who I’m poking fun at …

Writer’s Easter Eggs. They’re in just about every book you read. It’s a game, and adds to the fun of the reading experience.