Today the Xarrokian government is hosting Bruce Blake and his discussion about the skill involved in his creations.
Title of Blog
That’s sort of how my novels start out—with a working title, often just simple descriptions. For example, the second Icarus Fell novel, which will be released on Kindle this week (July 17), was called “New Icarus Novel” for most of its writing. Not exactly the catchiest title, but a good place holder. No chance it would make it on to the cover of a book and draw readers in because of its wit and relevance.
Some titles come easily, some are a challenge. On rare occasions, the title is the impetus behind the story (not me so far, but I’ve heard of it happening). For purposes of example, let’s have a look at my two Icarus novels.
“On Unfaithful Wings” was known as “Harvester” pretty much from its humble beginnings as an idea about a dead guy who begrudgingly helps souls on their way to Heaven. I thought it was a pretty good title, though it did go through a couple of variations before I settled down with it: Soul Harvester, Harvester of Souls, etc. I liked the feel of a one word title and, knowing it would be a series, thought they could all be one word titles. It wasn’t until I was close to publication that the change occurred. I had sent the manuscript to my editor, whom I was working with for the first time. She did a wonderful job helping me with the book, but one of the things she pointed out was that the title didn’t do the story justice. Not very urban fantasy, not very exciting, not a title that drew people in. I thought about it and eventually conceded the point when a couple of my beta readers agreed with the editor’s opinion (including my mother-in-law who said it sounded like it should be a book about farmers…which it’s not).
And the hunt began.
It took me a conscious effort and a bit of time and research to come up with the title. Eventually, I entered the name Icarus in everyone’s little friend, Google, and came up with the poem by Erasmus Darwin that serves as the opening of the book: “…with melting wax and loosened strings, sunk hapless Icarus on unfaithful wings…” Problem solved. A week before publication.
The title for the second Icarus novel dropped on my out of the sky. Or from the back of an SUV, to be precise. I was still writing and editing, not really thinking about a title, when I pulled up to a stop light behind an old Toyota 4-Runner. It had surf boards on the roof rack and looked like a vehicle that was familiar with the term “off road”. In the back window, someone had affixed a bumper sticker with a quote from a poem found in The Lord of the Rings that bespoke the SUV owner’s attitude about adventuring. It said: “Not all who wander are lost”. As it was, it didn’t really suit my book, but drop one word, which changes the entire sentiment of the phrase, and voila: “All Who Wander Are Lost”. The book follows Icarus as he travels to Hell in an attempt to recover the souls of his friends. Lost souls. Icarus, and others, get lost. They wander through Hell. Perfect.
I don’t expect perfect titles to magically appear on the backs of Toyotas every time I need them, and I don’t want to cut it as close as I did on the first book, so now I keep a list of titles, just in case. I a a title collector, if you will. Maybe one day, one of them will inspire a story.
What are some of your favourite titles of books? Why do you like them?
If you’re a writer: at what stage of writing your book do you feel like you have to have a title in place?
Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don’t take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.
Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn’t really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the “u” out of words like “colour” and “neighbour” then he does shovelling. The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of burlesque diva Miss Rosie Bitts.
Bruce has been writing since grade school but it wasn’t until five years ago he set his sights on becoming a full-time writer. Since then, his first short story, “Another Man’s Shoes” was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Cemetery Moon, another short, “Yardwork”, was made into a podcast in Oct., 2011 by Pseudopod and his first Icarus Fell novel, “On Unfaithful Wings”, was published to Kindle in Dec., 2011. The second Icarus Fell novel, “All Who Wander Are Lost”, is scheduled for release July 17, 2012, with the first book in the four-part “Khirro’s Journey” epic fantasy coming soon after. He has plans for at least three more Icarus novels, several stand alones, and a possible YA fantasy co-written with his eleven-year-old daughter.
On Unfaithful Wings
I was alive, then I was dead, now I’m stuck somewhere in between.
My name is Icarus Fell. I am a harvester.
The archangel Michael brought me back to collect souls and help them on their way to Heaven–that’s what a harvester does. If I get enough of them before the bad guys do–if I do a good job–I can have my life back. Now people I knew in life are dying, killed by a murderer’s knife, their bodies defiled, and the cops think I’m the killer.
I’m not, but I think I know who is.
But how does a dead man, a man who no longer exists, stop a psycho? I’m not sure, but I’m going to stop him before everyone I know is dead.
I have to stop him before he gets to my son.