Every morning, when I check my email, I'm reminded of a funny (funny-weird, not funny-humorous) thing about book titles. Because I have a daily Google alert on my titles, I get a little summary about how they have used been used on the internet. For my first novel A Murder at Rosamund's Gate and for my third novel, The Masque of a Murderer, I get alerts that actually pertain to my book.
But for my second book, From the Charred Remains, I am treated to all sorts of terrible and strange news stories--usually house fires--of things or people being found after a fire (this gem to the right is one of the better things that's come this way).
Literally, this illustrates the dark side of book titles. There are terrible things that happen in the world--beyond what happened on the mythical Tatooine--and every day those come to my inbox because of how I titled my book.
I shouldn't be surprised--after all, the premise of my book is that a body has been found in a barrel outside the Cheshire Cheese after the Great Fire has devastated much of London.
So as I sort though new titles for my fourth book--the soon to be renamed Stranger on the Bridge--I find myself avoiding titles that reporters might use to describe particularly grisly stuff.
It's ironic really. The title of my first book didn't make it through marketing, but it was originally called Monster at the Gate. I thought the concept of monster fit well with my time period, but that title was deemed too harsh and supernatural. I can only imagine the kinds of Google hits I would have gotten, had I kept that title.
The original title of my third book, Whispers of a Dying Man, didn't make it past my own internal scrutiny. Bleagh. Glad I changed that one. The Masque of a Murderer is a much better title.
But From the Charred Remains sailed through easily. I still like the title, but I'm still a bit wary when I see what Google has sent me.
Now, I'm still pondering the title of my fourth book. Stranger on the Bridge just isn't resonating for me. So at New Year's, after describing the premise, I asked a bunch of my friends to all put single words (nouns and adjectives) into a hat. Then we all picked three or four slips of paper and formed titles. The best of this admittedly drunken endeavor was Across the Misty Divide. Probably won't go over either (sorry Steve!). Maybe the parlor game method of naming books is not the best method.
So hopefully something connects soon!!! I'll keep you posted!
Just a quick note to say that I'm very honored that my second novel, From the Charred Remains, was recently nominated for the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award. This is a fan award bestowed at the annual Left Coast Crime Convention.
The other finalists in this category are Rhys Bowen, Queen of Hearts (Berkley Prime Crime), Catriona McPherson, A Deadly Measure of Brimstone (Minotaur Books), Kelli Stanley, City of Ghosts (Minotaur Books) and Jeri Westerson, Cup of Blood (Old London Press).
Some other author friends who've stopped by my blog were nominated nominated for the Rosebud, the best first mystery novel set anywhere in the world: Lisa Alber, Kilmoon (Muskrat Press), Lori Rader-Day, The Black Hour, and Holly West, Mistress of Fortune (Carina Press e-book). (I'm really hoping I can vote Chicago-style on this one...early and often!)
We'll find out in March! Fingers crossed!
Creating Lucy's Map of London
As I work on my fourth Lucy book, I knew I had to figure out a better way to keep in mind where all the events of the first three books occurred.
For real historical locations--London Bridge, the Cheshire Cheese, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Fire Courts, Newgate--I have a few maps on hand.
These include the interactive map of early modern London ("The Agas Map") from 1633 and Walter George Bell's 1920 map of the Great Fire of 1666.
But of course it is Lucy's world that is harder to keep straight. Where does Master Hargrave live? Where is Aubrey's printing shop? Where was Mr. Whitby pushed in front of the horse? How long will it take Lucy to walk from Duncan's jail on Fleet Street to the nonconformist burial ground in Bunhill Fields? And when Lucy walks towards Smithfield, will she remember where a murder occurred in an earlier book?
This weekend it occurred to me to create my own master map--Lucy's London--for me to remember where every event occurred in Lucy's life. Using photocopies of the Agas Map (1633) and using Bell as a reference, I was able to develop my own map on which I could color in the area destroyed by the Great Fire and write in all my events for reference. The final result, shown here on my dining room table, is about 5' x 2.5'.
If I wanted I could even color in all the houses! Draw journey lines to illustrate the different treks the characters take throughout all four books, noting their points of intersection! Use a palate of colors to demarcate a range of events--murders, accidental deaths, accidents, important scenes!
I do, after all, have a book to write. But working on this map gave me an enormous appreciation for the intricate nature of the maps that Agas and Bell created, and deepened my understanding just that much more of the fascinating world of early modern London.
Historian. Mystery writer. Researcher. Teacher. Occasional blogger.