coming up with a title
My new book, ‘Wildlife’, will be out next year.
It is the second in an extremely loosely linked trilogy.
Lou, from ‘Six Impossible Things’ is one of two point-of-view characters in ‘Wildlife’, and the other, the protagonist, is a new character, Sibylla.
During its gestation ‘Wildlife’ has had a few working titles, and here’s why they didn’t last the distance.
This was my original title idea, and the scene in which that word appears is still in the book. For: it delivers an appealing dislocation of meaning and form. It means beauty, and yet it sounds more like the noise you might make when you vomit. Beauty itself being an undoubted mixed blessing is one of the things the story looks at. Against: no one can pronounce it, and no one knows what it means – brilliant idea if you want to make buying the book, or borrowing it from a library, or even remembering the title as difficult as humanly possible.
Before it was a band and a wine label, this was a game of playground tiggy in which the kiss was punitive. The kissed party became ‘it’: they lost. This suited the ambiguity of the main love story within the narrative. It’s a first love for Sibylla, an experience she finds wonderful, completely confusing, and by no means a simple happily-ever-after. So, the title relates well to the narrative, and it’s catchy. But I could not imagine a fourteen-year-old boy choosing it from a shelf. Overall, it felt a bit young, a bit ‘bubblegum’/cute, for a story that includes content about sex and desire.
3. The Fairweather Term
This was the shortest-lived working title. It split the field – classical/simple vs boring/ho-hum. The idea with this one was that the school campus is at a place called Mt. Fairweather, and the students are there for a term of the school year – uh-huh – but it also calls to mind the ‘term’ ‘fairweather friend’, which has resonance within the story, so it would have been a double entendre, geddit?
My friend Debi suggested this one, and I think it’s a stayer. It is a story about first love, and friendship, and it’s set in an outdoor education campus in the mountains. ‘Wildlife’, with its simple connotation of creatures living according to instinct within a habitat felt perfectly suited to this group of characters dealing with life away from the support structure of family. I look at jealousy and betrayal in this story, too, and have a (female) character very loosely based on Iago, from Othello, so the outdoor education camp can also be read as a ‘Cyprus’ vs the relative civilization of the city campus, ‘Venice’; it’s a place with fewer rules and greater extremes. Wild.
My first blog post here was about why I chose ‘Six Impossible Things’ as a title.
It’s possible I spend a bit too much time obsessing over things like this.
My third book, set back at the same school’s city campus at the beginning of year 11, has a working title which I won’t divulge too early, as I did with Pulchritude-Kisschasey-The Fairweather Term-Wildlife.
* I took this photo on Mt Timbertop. That’s right – my commitment to research knows no bounds. I put on the walking boots. I huffed. I puffed. etc. Great view.