Today we're turning the tables - instead of prompts and writing advice from me, I'd love your feedback. Big day yesterday - all sorts of fun planned in London, meeting with lovely new agent, general excitement. Unfortunately just as I'm about to board the train, pilot gets a call. 'Ah, he says - crewing just called. I'm off to the Dominican Republic for six days'. Small matter of two little children. Frantic calls on the way to London - imagine having to cancel at this point to get home to do the school run ... Luckily our saintly babysitter stepped in and saved the day and I rushed home afterwards for bathtime.
Anyway - just another domestic disaster we're all used to juggling, right? The meeting was great - it's all happening, which is thrilling. The book's going out for a sneak preview, and the main submissions will be in January. But another title change is being considered on the first book - which is where I'd love your help. Here's the blurb:
Maya Dumas discovers over the course of a summer that 'love and loss come in equal measure', as she returns to her childhood home to paint her estranged mother’s portrait. When her mother reveals that not only is she dying, but that she is being blackmailed, secrets about her celebrated American war photographer father emerge. Maya finds her life changing forever as she is drawn back into the world of her peripatetic childhood, and rediscovers a secret love she thought she would never find again.
All you regular readers will know my ideas about 'method' writing - really immersing yourself in the characters, casting/visualising the book like a film. So you can picture it - Maya 'is' Emmanuelle Beart, her mother I've always seen as Catherine Deneuve, George her godfather 'is' Terence Stamp - it's set in New York, France, and the wild coast of Devon where I grew up. Hopefully you get the idea? One friend who read the samples said 'this isn't a book it's a French film'.
The title is: 'All the Lovely Ruined Things'. (Ted Hughes' original line was 'All, all the ruined lovely things' - but I rather feel things can be lovely and beautiful because or in spite of the fact life/time has 'ruined' them). The French title is 'Toutes Belles Choses Ruinees'. The problem the agency has is 'Ruined' - in the current economic climate is 'Ruined' too depressing? Do people want something ... cheerier? I love it, but can see their point - at the end of the day you want people to be intrigued, and buy the book.
They've suggested I think about alternative titles. The one I've come up with is 'The Secret Place' - as in the secret place in everyone's heart, and the literal secret place that holds all the answers to their family's secrets.
So - you're walking into Waterstone's, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Kinokuniya, John Sandoe or your lovely local independent bookstore. There are two books in front of you 'All the Lovely Ruined Things' and 'The Secret Place' - which would you go for?
I would genuinely love your thoughts - anyone who reads today, all you lovely subscribers - please click on the little grey 'comments' link at the end of this post. Also (oh this is scary ...) The only people who have read samples are my agents and a couple of brutally honest writer friends. But it's Christmas, the book is being launched in a few weeks ... anyone who would like a sneak preview, drop me an email via the 'profile' page and I'll send you a little early Christmas reading to say thank you for the fun we've all had over the last few months.
TODAY'S PROMPT: End of term today - will much writing be done? Go, eat, drink, be merry - and buy books for Christmas.
UPDATE: Thank you all for the wonderful comments coming in on the blog, by email and on Facebook. Some of my favourite suggestions for alternative titles include: 'Sex & War' and 'Recession Sucks: Get Over It'. That 'The Secret Place' is also a kindergarten euphemism for bottoms in the US adds a whole new element to things ...
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