An awkward encounter with The “other” Obituarist.

This could be awkward. In the period between me deciding to publish The Obituarist online and actually giving it the final go-ahead, someone else published a book of exactly the same name. Aargh!

I don’t know which of us thought of the title first – mine’s been lurking around for ages – getting its first mention in 2009. (Oh yes, that’s how fast I work! Speed of light we’re talking here.)

But annoyingly, it is clear who actually published his first. Him.

So what to do about it?

Well, I had already altered my name so as not to – and not appear to – claim credit off the back of another writer‘s success. So I didn’t fancy changing the title too.

But then – the author of The (Other) Obituarist got in touch! Cue dramatic music.

According to German folklore we should both have immediately dropped dead – or at least have our stories disappear. Isn’t that what happens when you encounter your doppelganger?

According to American Western custom, one of us should be growling that “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us. The stage leaves first thing tomorrow. Be under it.”

What actually happened was that I read his email, titled The Other Obituarist. You can read it for yourself:

Hello Paul,

I thought I might drop you a line to let you know that I’m an indie author who also just published an ebook called ‘The Obituarist’ on Smashwords and Amazon, about two weeks before you published yours!

This isn’t a ‘cease or desist’ or any nonsense like that; it’s a good title and there’s plenty of room for people to use it. And, to be honest, you use it more accurately than I do; I kept the term but changed the meaning to suit my own purposes.

I’m just writing because it’s a funny coincidence and I thought you might be amused too. If I get any customers who buy my book by mistake instead of yours, I’ll point them back at you; I hope you’ll do the same for me.

Good luck with your book!

How should I react? How would you react?

Given how prickly, paranoid and sensitive writers can be – especially those who have not quite become bestselling sensations just yet (though “this time next year Rodney, we’ll be millionaires”) – I thought it was a fairly generous message.

I replied and asked to use his email. He said yes. So I have and you’ve just read it.

Looks fierce and brooding, but is in fact just musing on the wonder of a wee cup of tea. I love tea too! We have SO MUCH in common.

My response is… this plug for him. He’s called Patrick O’Duffy and details of his ebook which is called, well, you already know its name, are here. Here’s what it’s about:

Kendall Barber calls himself an obituarist– a social media undertaker who settles accounts for the dead. If you need your loved one’s Facebook account closed down or one last tweet to be made, he’ll take care of it, while also making sure that identity thieves can’t access forgotten personal data. It’s his way of making amends for his past, a path that has seen him return to the seedy city of Port Virtue after years in exile. But now his past is reaching out to catch up with him, just as he gets in over his head with a beautiful new client whose dead brother may have been murdered – if he’s even dead at all. If Kendall doesn’t play his cards right, he could wind up just as deceased as the usual subjects of his work.

My own (more competitively priced – well, 20 cents doesn’t just grow on trees) The Obituarist (with deluxe cover) you can find here on Smashwords, here on Amazon in the UK and here in the USA.

In my reply to Patrick, I happened to mention:

Blackwatertown is the title of a longer book I’m still trying to get published via more traditional routes. Please don’t tell me you have one with the same name up your sleeve.

Guess what he wrote back?

As it happens I lived for a time in a town called Blackwater – but I was about 1 year old at the time, so I have no plans to write about that!

Phew! Okay. I think we can be friends.



Filed under My Writing, Obituarist

43 responses to “An awkward encounter with The “other” Obituarist.

  1. What an obitch! I know you and wouldn’t doubt your integrity, and the other guy sounds honourable- it’s hardly as difficult as two ladies turning up at Buck House in the same ‘patented’ dress. If I’m still alive after making that last remark, I can promise you a good obituary if you lose in a shootout

  2. Absolutely staggering coincidence. You’d think Smashwords and Amazon would have some built-n check for duplicate titles.

    As it turns out it is probably just as well they haven’t and it looks like you and him may well benefit from the cooperation envisaged. He has taken a very civilised approach as have you.

    You’re ahead in the civilised league at the moment as you have plugged him in public on your blog but I see he hasn’t (yet?) got round toreciprocating.

    Anyway, loved your book, as you know, and may consider reading his. Sounds like a good plot.

    I had occasion to go to a website recently which had been put up in memory of a cousin in the USA who had died. I had never met her but I found the site very moving.

    So I might just give the other Obituarist a whirl. 🙂

  3. You couldn’t make it up if you tried! Glad you sorted it without resorting to pistols at dawn! May you both prosper.

  4. Reminds me of when I was going to post a review on Amazon, and someone used the same phrase as me for the exact same game, “overlooked gem”, so I had to change it. Darn them! They must’ve been threatened by my amazing reviews and snuck into my house and stole the phrase in order to get a better reviewer rank than me. We’ll see who becomes the top reviewer. We’ll see.
    That’s a weird coincidence, though. Glad the guy’s nice about it. When I near the completion of my comics, I must check that my character names and such weren’t used elsewhere. Don’t know if all people will be so nice about me using the same titles and such as them.

  5. Hi,
    That is such an amazing coincidence, and then to find out he also lived in a place called Blackwater, it does make the head spin a bit. 🙂

  6. I think you’re both taking it grandly in your strides. And I’m thoroughly impressed!

  7. It’s when you go home and find him sitting in your kitchen, drinking your coffee and asking what you’re doing there – that’s when you need to worry.

    • blackwatertown

      Oh I don’t know… Could be one of those serendipitous life swaps, new home, romance, less rain. (But not one of those swaps where all of a sudden you’re wanted for a murder carried out by Richard Gere. Or was it the other guy?)

  8. Doppenganger? I think sleep deprivation and a fertile mind, possibly resulting in a touch of paranoia, have a lot to answer for.

    The two of you should count yourselves lucky: Feeding off each other like birds off the hind of a rhino, in perfect harmony down the food chain. Am now sorely tempted to throw my own “Obituarist” into the ring. All good things come in threes. And, Paul, to put your mind at rest: Until you appeared on my blog horizon ‘Blackwater’ had never featured in my life before.


    • blackwatertown

      Which makes me either the arse of a rhino or eating a rhino’s arse. Decisions, decisions…

      • Don’t blame me, blame my Doppelgaenger. I meant to say “hide’ not hind. Though who knows. The relationship between a rhino and its bird most beneficial. Not least because a rhino will find it very hard to scratch its own back.


  9. How very magnanimous of you both! And what a freaky coincidence…will have to look him up!

  10. rummuser

    What a remarkable story and what a remarkable writer. I salute him and you too.

  11. You are such a gentleman, HH. Likewise to the Other Obituarist. Maybe I shouldn’t call you “Horse Head” anymore (only I can’t bring myself to call you sir).

    Great success to you both.

    Blessings – Maxi

    • blackwatertown

      Marriage is now a definite possibility. I’m sure there’s somewhere that carries out horse/human ceremonines.

  12. Interesting twist, BWT – I keep my titles so underwraps as I thinkt they are awfully clever (!) and worth poaching. Even the play I premiered recently – I was almost paranoid about the title….:)

    • blackwatertown

      Your advice please.
      Do you think The Obituarist would work as a radio play? It’s on my list – my very long list of things to do – to rewrite it a a script.

      • I’m in the early stages of creating an audiobook version of mine in conjunction with a friend who’s a voice actor.

        I think your Obituarist would work very well as a radio play – lots of dialogue with distinctive voices and a plot driven by conversation/interaction between characters. You should give it a try!

      • blackwatertown

        I will thanks. I was thinking of doing an audio version – may still do. But the idea of a radio play appeals to me. Get stuck into the different voices.

  13. Dunno Paul – I sense a Twilight Zone episode here somewhere 🙂 And the only Blackwater I’ve ever known til now is a great song by the Doobie Brothers. I look forward to reading both of your offerings though –

  14. Pingback: Patrick O'Duffy » Blog Archive » The other Obituarist

  15. I lived in Blackwater for 5 years!! I think that was the Twilight Zone for sure. Very strange place it was! Sounds like a marriage made in heaven with you and this other character 😉 I found myself in a vaguely similar position a little while ago when I got an email from someone on my other blog site informing me I was (unwittingly) using his photos 😦 He turned out to be a lovely guy (and hot!!!!) and he was happy for them to stay on my blog, just requested a credit to his website. Turned out he was quite well known too so there are a few very noble and understanding ones out there and I didn’t get sued for breach of copyright! Now I have to buy a kindle specifically so I can read your book…the android app version is far too big for my mobile memory…u think I should check out your “other half’s” book as well?!!! Traitor that I am lol 😉

    • blackwatertown

      I am – and am also having to get kitted out properly with a reader. I keep coming across interesting stuff to read on it.
      So where is or was your Blackwater?

      • Yes…there’s some intriguing reading material on them isn’t there…lol 😉
        Hampshire UK…they’ve got a great Tesco’s there! I liked it better before they fired me though 😉

      • blackwatertown

        I’ll have to check it out. I was expectign something a bit weirder given your original comment.

  16. Very tiny world, huh…:-)

  17. Not sure what is the best post to leave this comment on, so I’ve landed here.

    Interesting story, Scroogled. Also interesting that some of the comments see it as unreal. I’m afraid it is very real and getting realer.


    • blackwatertown

      yes – interesting and alarming story. I haven’t really “got” the whole paranoia google thing before, but that conveys it very well.
      Thanks for the link.

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