In the past I have never had a problem with deciding on a title for the book that I am writing. I usually have a working title first. I do not know why but it seems to help me with my vision of the book. The Sorrow Song Trilogy books were very easy, as was the name for the trilogy itself; they are all quotes from the poem Beowulf. Eugenica was just a moment of inspiration. I wanted something that suggested eugenics and somewhere in the extensive research that I carried out I came across the name ‘Eugenica’. As the central character is a girl it just felt right. Mesozoic was very easy. The story takes place in the Mesozoic Era, a geological time in the Earth’s history. It sounds good, kind of mysterious to someone who might not be aware of geological time being divided up into exotic periods. The Queen of the Mountain Kingdom was another easy one; it literally states what the book is about. However, as the central character is not a queen at the beginning of the book then it suggests, to me at least, that there is a story to be told.
My seventh novel started life with the name ‘Mephistopheles’. It has worked so far in helping me create the book, but I do not think that it works as a title for the finished article. The name Mephistopheles is quite well known. It tends to conjure up the image of a devil. As a character, he has become a part of popular culture; people do not need to have read Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s ‘Faust’ or Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Dr Faustus’ to be aware of him. My problem is that the story itself is not really about Mephistopheles; that is just a starting point.
I was hoping that a line would come to me that could be adapted into a title for the book. This how it usually happens. Nothing has though. I seem to have hit a writer’s block in this respect, which is pretty annoying considering that the book is now some 90% complete.
One of the major themes that this book concerns itself with is that things, people included, are rarely what they might seem to be. The man who takes on the persona of Mephistopheles is not a devil. He is not even evil. The mystery that he leads Doc Hunter and Artemisia Montessori into is not what it seems either. Neither are most of the people that they meet on their way to the conclusion of the adventure. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors at work in this story. Deception is an element, but so is misperception. People changing is another. I find that people change mostly unconsciously, but often consciously as well. Events can inspire a person to change, as can acquiring new knowledge. Of course, some people resist change as well.
Another theme is hope. I place a great deal of value in having hope for the future. I have lived a life in which not a lot of hope was offered to me by people like teachers, doctors, employers and such. I might have been naïve due my age, but I always retained hope for my future. Actually, I do not think that I was or am naïve; that is just another misconception. By the time I left school at 16 I had been through more negative experiences than most people. I still wanted to live a life, not just exist.
The scope of the book should not be a problem in deciding on a title for it. There should be something within the 90,000+ words of the manuscript that suggests a fitting appellation that both describes the work and encapsulates to some degree the subject matter and its themes. Although I am very happy with the quality of what I have written the must of titles appears to be absent at the moment. I tried a couple of examples on my wife but she was unimpressed. I am not surprised, I was too.
Mephistopheles (working title) is a thriller, a mystery, and an adventure story. It features violent action, clue finding, threats perceived to world peace, cities, and individuals. Spies, assassins, thugs, a madman, a sinister character who travels the world and appears to abduct people and take their wealth, a shadowy organisation that kills anyone who interferes, are the main characters. They have long journeys, animal encounters in the wilderness, and contact with people who might be considered wild and barbaric. It also considers the nature of civilisation and if it is really a great benefit to humanity, and a couple of other philosophical debates. It has a lot going for it, except an actual title!