Friday, August 21, 2015

Titular Tidings

For someone who reads and writes a lot I have actually never aspired to be an author. But growing up in the publishing world I did have other aspirations that were book related. My main aspiration was to appear either in the dedication of a book or in the thanks. One does love to see one’s name in print and this, I figured, was the closest way to achieving that goal without actually writing a book. I have achieved the goal of being mentioned in an author’s bio… of course that author was my Dad and I wasn’t referred to by name, but still, I was heading in the right direction. This spring I was thanked in the afterward of Marry Robinette Kowal's Of Noble Family for being a beta reader, huzzah! But generally authors don't give you opportunities to get your name in their books. And then I met Lauren. If you’ve been following her books and blog as long as I have you will remember back in the days of yore when she would occasionally be stymied on the next Pink book’s title. The person or persons who helped with the title would be mentioned in the acknowledgements at the beginning of that book.

Ah ha I thought! This shall be how I shall achieve said odd literary goal! The first naming competition Lauren had that I hopefully entered was actually for the novella that became Ivy and Intrigue: A Very Selwick Christmas. I remember pouring over the printouts of this Christmas story and writing copious notes in the margins, just hoping that my titular suggestion would be picked. While I wasn’t the winner I did get an honorable mention and a signed book plate and a lovely letter from Lauren for “Bother the Snow.” Being so close yet so far created a new goal of wanting to name a piece of writing, which would happen sooner then I thought. The next naming competition was for Pink VI, later to be known as The Betrayal of the Blood Lily. Again I poured over the first chapter of the book, I even went so far as to contact my friend Matt who knows all about plants and grilled him on plants that would be in India, but alas, it wasn’t to be, and thankfully so if you've read my previous post. But my time was coming.

In 2012, the most favorite of Lauren’s couples, voted on by the readers, was to get a Valentine’s Day novella. The much loved Miles and Henrietta Dorrington, stars of The Masque of the Black Tulip, trounced the competition. One day I was trolling Lauren's site, as I do, and I noticed that the time had come to name the upcoming story. Everyone was throwing out flower names, but I literally had an instant of pure clarity, and Bunny and Biscuits just came into my head. The title roles off the tongue in an alliteration that I hope Miss Gwen would approve of, and if not it can be Miles and Hen’s crime fighting aliases for when they get a 60s style Avengers TV show. Much like Henrietta I had a cute yet redundantly named duo of stuffed animals when I was little. Hen had Bunny the Bunny, I had Big Bear Bear and Little Bear Bear, the little one was obviously smaller, and the Big was added to Bear Bear so that they would both have unique names, once the little one appeared on the scene. Therefore, despite perhaps being an easily forgettable fact of Hen’s childhood to most readers, to me it made us simpatico. And that’s where the “Bunny” came from. As for “Biscuits” well, all Dorrington men past and present have a love of ginger cookies, or biscuits as the Brits would say… so the title made itself really, as all good titles do. It was there in the work waiting to be said. Though in an ironic twist, “Biscuits” is one of my most misspelt words of all time, after “Sincerely” and “Business.”

So I submitted my entry and the long and short of it is I won! I was overjoyed! There was Numfar’s Dance of Joy (seriously if you don’t know this Whedonverse allusion, get on it) much whopping and hollering, it was a riotous time, Big Bear Bear, Little Bear Bear, and I had some wild adventures in exaltation of this honor, that’s to be sure. And by wild adventures I mean sitting in a comfy chair and reading. Yet my greatest joy to come was reading the story, because Ginger Biscuits played a part. So it felt like the story was written for me. Yeah, I know it wasn’t, but I can pretend. I have always had a deep connection to Lauren's characters, but here... here I felt like every word was for me. For a reader, there is no greater joy and it happens every time I pick up one of Lauren’s books. And I'm sure for a writer there is no greater joy then having a ravenous fan base which demands more work and has year-long re-reads in anticipation of their next book. So, in the end, it might not have gotten me my goal, but this was far better! And you know what? Goals change… and I have a new goal… to get a pull quote of a review I’ve written on the dust jacket of a book… or in those first few pages you always skip over praising the author’s previous works, I’d settle for that.

*This post originally appeared in a slightly different form as "What's in a Name? Bunny and Biscuits" for the "Pink for All Seasons" Lauren Willig re-read on The Bubble Bath Reader Blog.


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