Wednesday 12 September 2012

How the Lion Got his Job

I don't know if anyone's ever wondered why I have a cuddly lion in my sidebar instead of, say, a picture of me.

If you know me from Twitter, you might recognise it. When I first made a Twitter account, I didn't want to put a picture of myself on it, partly because I don't like most of the pictures I have of me - any that are more than a few years old have a fairly unflattering hairstyle, and the one on my passport has my best attempt at a neutral expression. Slack-jawed and staring-eyed. In other words, I look utterly stoned on the photograph I go through customs with.

But I digress. It's also because I'm shy, and I felt awkward about appearing to the entire world in person. So I looked through the photos I had on my computer - because I'm a mathematician, and we're a lazy breed, and I couldn't be bothered to take and upload a new one - and found one of Simba. I like that picture. It's kind of silly and cute, and it seemed reasonable to use it as my avatar since it's of something that means a lot to me. I've had Simba as long as I can remember, and he's been my 'favourite toy' and shared my bed every night since I was ... not sure, four, maybe? That's seventeen years, which is as long as I've known my little brother. So I uploaded it to Twitter.

Then I started a blog. I wanted a picture in the sidebar, but for all the same reasons (the photo of me I eventually put in the About Me page, which I like, didn't exist at the time) I didn't want it to be of me, and for all the same reasons plus that I liked the idea of using the same picture as my Twitter avatar, I used the same picture as my Twitter avatar.

I've also used it on my brand new (and as yet very empty) Facebook author page. Only by now I've thought up some better excuses. I've decided to make it part of my brand. This is partly for much the same reasons as before: I still prefer to have him as the picture everyone associates with me than a picture of me. Maybe that's weird. Like I said, I'm shy. My secret ambition is to become rich and famous enough as an author that I can become a recluse without ruining my career and consequently starving.

But also I think he's more memorable than a mugshot. That's might be largely just me: I have face-blindness, so a head-and-shoulders photo is, to me, extremely generic and forgettable. Even if it's of me, unless I can see something I recognise like the clothes I'm wearing or the background. If it was of a perfect stranger, they'd have to be very strange indeed before I would remember it.

But then again it's not just me. There's about one in forty people who will struggle to pick my mugshot out of a lineup, and that feels like a fairly reasonable size for a target market. And even for the rest of you, there's a lot of authors' faces out there and not so many stuffed lions.

So Simba is the front-man for my brand. Unless I change my mind. What do you think?


  1. Nice writing, and yes, I'll remember Simba.

  2. I love Simba. He's super memorable and I always look for him when I come here :)

    P.S. I just liked your author page ;)