Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mission Accomplished?

Houston, we have a title. What was once Smite the Waters is now Shock and Awe.

There were some close contenders. David Thayer casually tossed out Carla's War, and that came near to ending up on the cover.

Equally casually, Pamela Blake handed over Patriot Acts, and that one would probably be the title now were it not for the fact that Greg Rucka has a book of that title coming out in August. Grrr. (She also proposed Unveiled Threat, which was quite clever in terms of the storyline, but oblique.)

Shock and Awe was contributed by MNW editor Will Atkins (along with a few other possibilities), and survived through the massive winnowing process.

And where was I in all of this? Pretty much on the sidelines, as it turns out. I came up with a few possible titles, none of which I loved (my heart still belonged to Smite). Some seemed passable to me, but as it turns out I tend to prefer titles that are allusive and noncontemporary. In other words, titles that have gravity but lack specificity.

In the end, it came down to Shock and Awe versus Carla's War. Both were apparently popular enough around Macmillan. I leaned slightly toward Carla's War because of the touch of incongruity, but came round to Will's belief that Shock and Awe not only underlines the connection with the War on Terror, but also has, at this point, a nice ironic feel to it.

In fact, words connected with the War on Anything tend to acquire an ironic feel rather quickly, cf. "War on Poverty" and "War on Drugs." (Sure am glad we don't have poor people or drugs anymore. )

If you're bored, you might want to check out the "Lulu Title Scorer" Charles Lambert steered me to:

http://www.lulu.com/titlescorer/index.php

I have serious doubts about the validity of the results, but it's a nice way to waste some time.

In any case, the baby now has a name, and I can go out in public again. I hope to be able to put up the jacket on this site some day soon.

6 comments:

Matt Curran said...

Hi David

Hate to tell you this, but Amazon UK are still calling your book Smite the Waters, complete with cover too (looks rather natty!).

I guess Shock and Awe resonates, but I'm still fond of Smite the Waters... Never mind.

I too am having title problems with the new book - not from MNW (they haven't signed it up yet) but personally. The Secret of Mhorrer just doesn't do it for me!!

David Isaak said...

Hi Matt--

Thanks for the heads-up. I didn't know the book was up at Amazon! Well, at least a few folks will get a chance to see it as it was...

I guess whether or not you use The Secret of Mhorrer or something similar depends on whether you hope to have the word "secret" running as a link through your series. (I assume this is a series rather than a two-parter?)

Lucy McCarraher said...

OK, someone explain to me what the "heads-up" means. Matt thanked me for the heads-up in his comment on my last post (my blog) and now you're saying it to him. Whaa??
Lucy x

Jake said...

"Carla's War" sounds like a Lifetime movie about one woman's lifelong fight against (breast cancer, famine in India, fetal alcohol syndrome, gangs in the neighborhood). It seems like the kind of title you'd like after reading the book (or knowing what it's about) but has the, uh, 'wrong' resonance to it.

'Shock and Awe'... not bad. Still like 'Smite the Waters' better, though.

Charles Lambert said...

Now see how long it takes to start saying the new title without putting little verbal quotation marks round it, as though it belonged to someone else. And then you have to get used to thinking it.

I'm somewhere between these two stages...

Talking about the Amazon thing, my bio in the O. Henry Prize Stories (plug, out on 8 May)will have the original title of my novel. So will another bio in New Writing 15, out in June.

Shit.

David Isaak said...

You're right, the quotation marks are still quite large...

As to your problem...well, perhaps people will simply conclude you're incredibly prolific. Future biographers will search for your lost works...