It happened a while ago, but I thought I’d share with you. When I told my daughter that my sixth book was titled Fatal Flaw, she quickly came back with, “And I guess the sequel will be called Treacherous Tiles, or Lethal Linoleum, or …” You can probably gather from that that her mind works in a rather quirky way.
It set me thinking about book titles and how they can be interpreted by readers and whether they play a part in why a reader selects a book to peruse and perhaps to purchase. After my first book, Dance with the Devil, was published, I was shopping in Target and, naturally, checked out the book department. To my surprise, Dance with the Devil had been placed in the Horror/Supernatural section. Another surprise was that my friend Louise Cusack’s first book, Destiny of the Light, a fantasy, had been placed in the New Age section.
What had made the Target employee decide where to place the books? The title? The cover? As the cover of Dance with the Devil gave no indication that it had any horror or supernatural elements in it, I could only assume it was the title. And I’d thought Louise’s book looked like a fantasy.
So what makes you, as a reader, pick up a book? And does the title influence what you think the book might be about?
When I looked at how long it had been since my last post, I realised just how quickly time passes and how hard it is to keep up with so many things in our lives. Sometimes I despair of ever catching up.
My eldest brother often forwards jokes, pictures, and other various emails and usually I have a laugh and sometimes feel sad if they are heart-rending, but tonight he sent one with a lot of pictures. One of those pictures showed a huge block of concrete in a forest, possibly part of a bunker from World War II. A seed must have fallen on a small crack in the concrete and sprouted, because a tree was growing from the top of the concrete, its roots following the crack to the ground. I was struck by the sheer determination of nature to reclaim the forest. It reminded me of all the civilisations that ended up becoming an archaeologist’s dig. Now, you might think that that would be enough to make me throw up my hands and ask why I should bother to keep on imagining, and writing, and creating stories, but what has survived all those centuries and the passing of so many peoples? Storytelling!
Whether you are a native in an isolated village in the jungle listening to the elders recount tales of their long-dead ancestors, or a songwriter crafting a ballad of lost love, or a child cradled on a parent’s lap while being read a little Golden Book, you will be taking part in the oldest of traditions – storytelling.
As a writer I feel connected to that never-ending thread. Oh, I’m not saying that my stories will live on, never to be forgotten, but I feel great joy that I am connected to something that will only end when humankind ceases to exist.
Long live storytelling!