How important is the titling of a book? When I first started the first Gideon Smith novel, which is to be published by Tor in the US in May 2013, I didn’t really have a name for it. During the research process I chanced upon an ancient Egyptian myth that corresponded to the Cinderella story, so my first working title was The Cinderall Solution.
Gradually that changed in my head to The Rhodopis Solution – Rhodopis being the subject of this particular old story. Then, during the writing, that particular aspect of the storyline changed and reduced, and was no longer relevant.
When I sent the manuscript to my agent John Jarrold the working title was Hero of the Empire, which I thought had that suitably derring-do approach that the novel was taking. When the book was finally accepted by Claire Eddy at Tor in December, the caveat was that the title didn’t really work for them.
Thus, while the revisions process has been ongoing, people have been thinking of better things to call this beast. I confess that I was struggling; perhaps that’s something to do with being too close to the manuscript, and it needs fresh eyes to see what the book is really all about.
One of the narrative strands – which I have come to realise is the backbone of the book, though it didn’t really feel that way during the writing – is that the hero Gideon Smith meets and is accompanied on his travels by a marvelous, almost-human in aspect automaton, named Maria by her creator (and yes, it is a tip of the hat to Metropolis, pictured above).
John Jarrold suggested quite recently that the books – Tor has bought three in a projected series – should perhaps focus on the main character, with the format “Gideon Smith and…”
Well, it worked for Indiana Jones, and it looks like it’s working for Gideon Smith.
Received an email from Claire Eddy last night saying that a meeting of Tor folks had finally decided upon a title. Perhaps better than that, all the revisions have now been accepted and the book – although a year off hitting the shelves – is now officially “in production”.
This means advance bound copies, the involvement of the art department for a cover, and the irrevocable (I hope…) journey of a hundred thousand words on an RTF document towards becoming an honest-to-goodness real life book (and a DRM-free ebook, hopefully).
Oh, the title? Put it in your diary. May 2013. And the release into the world of…
GIDEON SMITH AND THE MECHANICAL GIRL.
To be followed in January 2014 by (possibly) Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon, and in October 2014 by Gideon Smith and… well, that’s not quite decided yet… but it might well have something to do with a certain Jack the Ripper…