I’m in the study of my new house, looking out at a magnificent garden and wondering why I’m not outside. At the moment, all that is stopping me is the deadline of sending my novel out to be published. And all that is stopping me there is the lack of a title.
For years, I have been calling it Dwarves in Space. And then a few people commented that it was a ridiculous title. So I changed it to “Don’t stop the world, I want to get back on.” which was very indicative of the story, but was, in the words of my friend and mentor, Danny Galvin, “a pun on a book from before you were born. Nobody will get it.”
After an incredibly long brainstorming session at Mum’s place, we ended up with the title Starstruck. Boring, but catchy. Not too punny. The problem is, you’d have to read it to get it.
And so, when I started farming it out to editors, I changed it back to Dwarves in Space!
And then I had Geoff Brown go over it – he did a great job of picking out the worst grammatical flaws and story faults, but didn’t notice that even though the Eagle was lying on the side of Mount Olympus, it was also flying King Roland back to the city for the end scene.
Oops. Minor spoilers.
My favourite quote from him was as follows: “I think the title leaves a lot to be desired, and doesn’t show the true richness of the story.”
So I’ve been madly trying to find a name that does show the true richness of the story.
Feel free to help. Here’s my brainstorm: https://bubbl.us/?h=14817/21f3cb/83C1g3DlojTJw
I’m trying to find a title that is epic, that links fantasy – with its elves, wizards, dwarves and magic – to spaceships and starcharts. It’s a comedy, so I’d hope the title demonstrated that somehow.
Not much to ask for, you must admit!
If nothing comes to me, I’ll have to hope that Penguin’s promise that “All manuscripts are carefully read and assessed,” is true, and they read it on its merit and maybe suggest something better. Who can tell?
I’m telling you, this has been an epic journey just in the writing. Let me tell you a story…
Many MANY years ago, I decided to go to a psychic. She was incredibly good at teasing out details and surprised me with a number of predictions that she couldn’t have known about. She is the reason why I didn’t get my motorcycle license. She also told me that I’d write a novel “something to do with the wizard necklace you are wearing” and get it published. I’d been thinking of a novel about wizards and dwarves on a spaceship, and the havoc that would ensue as they tried to learn how to fly the ship. I got home and started writing.
The next phase of this story takes place in Japan. I was dating a girl named Kallie, who was a great reason not to be at home. I left early each morning and went to a cafe. I drank coffee, smoke cigarettes and wrote for four hours a day. In the ten months I lived in Japan, I knocked off ninety-five percent of the novel. And I was very happy with it.
And then I started reading books on publishing, and the first thing they said was “you won’t get published without having some short stories published first.”
And I met Sara Douglass. Well, I re-met her. She was my History lecturer at university, and she was an incredible writer and an incredible lecturer – full of life and humour. And I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but her advice to me was “You will never sell anything that’s a mish-mash of so many genres.” That put me right off.
So we fast-forward ten years. I’ve had a few short stories published, I’m well into my next novel, and I’m ready to go on … ahem… Dwarves in Space!
Pippa has been invaluable in this part, going through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb, telling me over and over to work on my female characters, and pointing out grammatical errors that make me ashamed to say that I teach English for a living.
And I’m sure that much of the reason that I haven’t tried to have it published before now is, I am deathly afraid that after spending more than a decade with my baby, it will be rejected. But that’s not enough of a reason any more. OK. Here we go people. I’m pressing the send button!