A pair of spectacles tumbles into a rock-pool. A trivial incident echoes down the years, disturbing the lives of George, Artie and Edith.
So the new novel has a title. To my friends this has been ‘The Book With No Name’ for the past two years. Informally we called it ‘Glint’, and the early titles all played with the word. Booksellers were sampled, Facebook friends were polled. Almost everyone had a different reaction to every suggested title.
So what is a title? ideally it is something which will stick in the mind, even if you have not actually read the book. In the first instance it is simply something to urge you to pick that book and not one of the 2,000 others on the shelves in the local bookstore or the 200,000 or so available on Amazon.
It can tell you quite bluntly what the book is about; The War of the Worlds. Or not – Birdsong, anyone? It can simply raid Shakespeare; For Whom The Bell Tolls. The best titles at least give the reader a hint; The Maltese Falcon.
Glint is a historical romance, with a hint of magic realism. It is not a ‘romance’ per se, although there is romance. It is a historical novel set against the backdrop of the Great War, but it is not a war story. It is not one of my Jason Foss murder-mysteries (although death is ever-present, and the readers must not assume they are safe from suddenly coming across a foul deed). There is superstition and magic and a touch of the supernatural, but it is not a straight fantasy or ghost story. Our three heroes begin as teenagers, but it is not a teen novel.
There was a temptation to use ‘Guernsey’ in the title, as that is where it is set, but few people outside the island even know where it is. A girl is prominent in the story, and it was almost compulsory to use ‘Girl’ in a bestseller in 2014 or 2015 but I decided not to follow the pack.
Did you ever see something from the corner of your eye, something that was not actually there? If you wear glasses, have you been aware that they function as rear-view mirrors enabling you to see over your shoulder?
That Glint of light kept coming back to me. ‘Glint’ may have served as a working title, and even as the main title if this had been, say, a serial killer book. Then I found the quote attributed to Anton Chekhov:
‘Don’t tell me that the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass’. I had a title.
Glint of Light on Broken Glass will be published in May 2016.