Hello, my bookish peeps. If you’re anything like me, you love meeting new bookish people — readers, publicists, publishers, and especially authors. I’m excited to introduce a new-to-me author, Felicity Everett. Ms. Everett has written over 25 works of children’s fiction and nonfiction. Her debut adult fiction was The Story of Us, published in 2011. Ms. Everett’s latest adult fiction release is The People at Number 9 and something tells me this is going to be a delightfully wicked read. Today Ms. Everett will be discussing with us the importance of finding the right title. Without further adieu, I give you Felicity Everett.
Otter Wrangling For The Broken-hearted; One Author’s Search for the Perfect Title
I’m stuck for a title for my new book. It’s a psychological exploration of a disintegrating marriage, set in the English countryside. Any ideas? Me neither. Well, that’s not quite true, I’ve had fifty or sixty ideas, some of which seemed pure genius when they woke me up in the middle of the night but which, re-visited in the cold light of day, turned out to not to be. That’s partly because my book’s a bit of a genre-buster. It’s got gothic elements, but it’s not a thriller, so calling it ‘The House on Dark Lane’ or ‘The House at The Edge of The Wood’ seems a miss-sell. It’s set in a cottage, but anything with cottage in the title sounds twee. The countryside lives and breathes in this book so a plant-derived title might work. Except that none of them does. Jack-By-The-Hedge – too pervy; Love Lies Bleeding – too crimey, Apple of Sodom – yes, well…
Let’s try a different approach. My novel is literary in style and rural in setting, so a quote could be good. ‘The Pathless Wood’ is a lovely phrase from Byron’s Childe Harold, but separate it from its illustrious context and it sounds a bit meh. What about Robert Frost then? Nature poet par excellence; colloquial yet epic. Surely he’s got a phrase I could nab? ‘Thrush Music’? (a bit gynecological) ‘Uncertain Harvest’? (too much like a Douglas Sirk movie). This isn’t working.
A title has a lot of work to do. At the most basic level, it tells the bookseller whether to display the book in Fiction or Non-fiction. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: fiction, Telecommunications in the Digital Age: non-fiction. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – aha – now they’re flummoxed, or they might have been, had the title not been quirky enough and the cover artwork funky enough to indicate that it was actually a novel. It went on to be a bestseller, winning a clutch of prestigious prizes and spawning (no pun intended) a new fashion in non-fiction-y sounding fiction such as Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and The Sex Lives of African Girls. Maybe that’s an approach I could try. Otter-Wrangling for the Broken Hearted anyone?
I’m beginning to long for the days when an eponymous hero would suffice – what’s wrong with a Tom Jones, Moll Flanders, Jane Eyre? They seem epic and arresting enough to us now, as they come down the years trailing clouds of literary glory. I’m not sure my heroine Karen Whittaker passes muster though. I can’t see her featuring on an English literature syllabus of the future, or making the transition from page to screen. Karen Whittaker, The Motion Picture. Nah.
I rather like the latest fashion for transcendental titles. The Color of Hope; Do Not Say We Have Nothing; What She Left Behind. By evoking absence and paradox, these novels seem to promise philosophical enlightenment – some of them even deliver. Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See is a moving and morally complex tale with a blind girl as one of its central characters, so its allegorical title earns its keep. But the more these vague, allusively-titled novels proliferate, the harder it is to take them seriously, or to tell them apart. Bet you can’t pick the genuine titles from the fakes in the list below.
1. The Things We Wish Were True2. The Things We Once Held Dear3. The Things We Leave Behind4. When Once We Were Alone5. Where All The Stardust Lies6. We Are Not Ourselves7. Where We Fall8. An Astonishing Absence of Light
(1, 3, 6 and 7 are real. 2, 4, 5 and 8 are made up)
So, as tempting as it is to call my book All The Sex They Didn’t Have, I shall resist.
Which means it’s back to the drawing board. Ideas on the back of a postcard please…
The People at Number Nine by Felicity Everett
ISBN: 9780008228804 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780008265298 (ebook)
ASIN: B072TXBB7Y (Kindle edition)
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: HQ | HarperCollins
Have you met them yet, the new couple?
When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.
When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.
And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…
Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing, and betrayal in the suburbs…
Buy the Book
Available at BookDepository | Alibris
Shop Indie Bookstores