I’m reading Jonas Jonasson’s The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared as my Book Club selection this month and the story got me thinking about biker gangs—because there are a couple in this upbeat, humorous, Forrest Gump-type story.
I have several biker gangs in my novels, too. I found creating biker gangs not all that difficult, but when it came to naming them, I got in a bit of a tizzy. I didn’t want the names of my gangs to resemble any real gang’s, for fear I might aggravate someone with my portrayal and end up a dead victim.
The Traz, was the first of my gangs that needed a name. I free-wrote prospective names across and down and around on several sheets of paper for almost an entire afternoon. Many of the prospects played on variations of darkness and devils. Evilness. Lucifer’s Liars and such.
I wanted a name that was short—not just because I’d have to type it many times throughout the BackTracker series and its parallel books, but because if I were creating a real-life gang, I’d want something that when embroidered on the back of my black leathers would be fierce and readable from a fair distance. The Traz met that requirement.
I’m not sure where the name came from. Perhaps because the local high school mascot is Taz, the Tasmanian devil. Also “Traz” is sometimes used as a nickname for the notorious and evil Alcatraz prison of yesteryear.
One can never just have one biker gang, though. The worst violence that happens in gang life, is violence between competing gangs. Other gang names I created in my stories include The Blue Torpedoes, The Shadow Riders, and The Jackals.
I think Jonas Johansson was much more creative than I was with his gang names. The first gang we’re introduced to is the Never Again gang. That’s a cool name for bikers who are a bit on the bumbling side.
The best of Johansson’s gang names though belongs to a gang of illiterate bikers. It turns out that the girlfriend who embroidered the gang patches was also slightly less than fully literate. What was supposed to be The Violence ended up The Violins and nobody astride their cycles noticed!
This entire novel, starting with the title is a series of tiny laughs and pickled wit. Give it a go if you enjoy dry humour.
Gang Violins is brought to you by:
the soon-to-be-released Operation MaxTracker