Jonny

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TITILE: The Moon's a Balloon

AUTHOR: David NIven

GENRE: The first volume of David Niven's memoirs.

THOUGHTS: I was quite young when this came out but it was the title that drew me in. I had seen him promoting it on Parkinson so knew what to expect. Funny and scurrilous anecdotes of his young life and early Hollywood days.

The second volume also had a great title too

TITLE: Bring on the Empty Horses

Genre: More of the same.

But how the book it got its title was funny and interesting. It's something writers relate to. We hear a snippet of dialogue in a café, shop. restaurant or whatever and it sticks in our mind for many years after, then one day we find an opportunity to actually use it in our work.

Source; Waterstone's page for the book.

He and Errol Flynn were filming The Charge of the Light Brigade for a director, Michael Curtiz, 'whose Hungarian-orientated English was a joy to us all'. High on the rostrum he decided the moment had come to order the arrival on the scene of a hundred riderless chargers. "Okay," he yelled into a megaphone, "Bring on the empty horses!" '
 

Steve C

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Azimov had wonderful Science Fiction titles way back in the 1950's
some examples:

Foundation
I, Robot
The End of Eternity (my favourite)
The Robots of Dawn
The Gods Themselves
The Currents of Space
Nine Tomorrows (collection of short stories)

Just had a look at the blurb for The End of Eternity

A spellbinding novel set in the universe of Isaac Asimov’s classic Galactic Empire series and Foundation series

Due to circumstances within our control . . . tomorrow will be canceled.
 
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Jonny

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and there's hardly any mandolin action.
:rolling-on-the-floor-laughing:

Funnily enough, I have heard many others say the same thing. Not the lack of mandolin action, the boring as hell bit. :) I think that's why I never grabbed a copy.

But in the public conscience, it was one of those books that transcended the literary world and was mentioned everywhere at the time. Sort of another Da Vinci Code in that respect. It too being another Marmite thing.
 

RG Worsey

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:rolling-on-the-floor-laughing:

Funnily enough, I have heard many others say the same thing. Not the lack of mandolin action, the boring as hell bit. :) I think that's why I never grabbed a copy.

But in the public conscience, it was one of those books that transcended the literary world and was mentioned everywhere at the time. Sort of another Da Vinci Code in that respect. It too being another Marmite thing.
I was forced to watch the film, once (can't recall why; I was probably after a shag) and it was even worse. The book has a nicely-handled sub-plot about a gay soldier, which I felt was the only good part. The film script edited the gay soldier out completely.
 

Hannah F

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Title: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Author: John Boyne

Genre: YA Military historical fiction

Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Boy-Striped-Pyjamas

Thoughts/Reaction: Makes you wonder, who is this boy in the striped pyjamas. When you see the cover, you wonder what happens to him. Then you read the book and Oh! Oh! It should come with a warning that you will need a super-huge handkerchief.
 

Jake E

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On a similar note, I picked up:
Angry White Pyjamas
by Robert Twigger


The cover that I saw didn't have such a revealing picture on it, so I was intrigued.

I enjoyed it. Good balance of martial arts action and quirky flatmates.
Best description of Judo i ever heard was:

"It's like watching people try to fold laundry with the person still in the clothes"
 

Jan L

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TITLE: Resurrection Runner

AUTHOR: Mr. Robert Wood Anderson

GENRE: psychological spy thriller

LINK IF YOU HAVE ONE: Resurrection Runner (A Steven Popoford Thriller Book 1)

YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS: I buy a lot of book CDs for my blind mom. She was a voracious reader and now a voracious listener - blows thru two books a week. So, I'm constantly searching for new authors and titles that grab me or her. Mom's a big fan of spy thrillers. We purchased this one based on the curious title and the author's listed name "Mr. Robert Wood Anderson" on Amazon.
 
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E G Logan

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TITLE: Resurrection Runner

AUTHOR: Mr. Robert Wood Anderson

GENRE: psychological spy thriller

Have you discovered Mick Herron? He writes very unusual, amusing, spy thrillers. With interesting titles – it's never obvious what they are about. First one is 'Slow Horses'.
 
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TITLE: Naked Lunch

AUTHOR: William Burroughs

GENRE: Experimental fiction

LINK IF YOU HAVE ONE: Naked Lunch is still fresh

YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS: Putting two words together that nobody before ever put together. The title isn't silly. Burroughs said it was suggest by Jack Kerouac. It's meant to convey what Burroughs calls "the frozen moment when you suddenly realize what's on your spoon." The attitudes, information, history you've been taking in without questioning.
 

LizBrignac

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Some of my favorite titles:

Fiction:
The Sound and the Fury -- William Faulkner
Devil in a Blue Dress -- Walter Mosley
Jass (Evokes the setting in a way that always makes me want to read it. Then I start it, remember how much I dislike the detective, and stop reading) David Fulmer
Their Eyes Were Watching God -- Zora Neal Hurston
Parable of the Talents -- Octavia Butler
Infinite Jest -- David Foster Wallace

Poetry:
Picnic, Lightning -- Billy Collins

Nonfiction:
Fire in My Bones -- Glenn Hinson

Film:
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover






The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (movie, but I really love that title, so I'm shoehorning it in)
 
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E G Logan

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TITLE: Slow Horses

AUTHOR: Mick Herron

GENRE: dark comedy spy thriller

YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS: I suggest this one as an example of a book that succeeded despite its title. I believe – but don't quote me on it – that Herron had difficulty finding a UK publisher. Perhaps because of the odd genre crossover, with a very unusual narrator. It came out originally with a small US publisher.

Slow Horses comes from a London ?music-hall joke, possibly Victorian. 'Mr Smith lost all his money on fast women and slow horses'. It makes perfect sense as a title, if you know that, once you've read the book. It's not exactly a selling title, more of an in-joke.
 
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AgentPete

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Is this seminar still going ahead this weekend? Need time to prep for an early start.
Hey Cage...

Frankly, I’ve been a little shy about scheduling this. Needed to get a good perspective on the subject. It might just be the most challenging one we ever do. I’ve realised that in my own life, titles have mostly “happened”, e.g. they’ve simply popped into my head, someone else has suggested them, or they’ve been an obvious variation on a theme. None of which is particularly amenable to taking back to first principles and saying to folks, “this is our aim and here’s how we get there”, which is the basic approach I’m taking with all these seminars.

The extra time has allowed me to talk the subject through with some publishers I very much respect, and at least one of them has offered to record a segment for the seminar with me, which will be fabulous if we can do it, because he’s published some of the biggest books of the past few decades.

Anyway, I’m confident enough now to say… let's do it on Saturday 30th October :) p.
 

AgentPete

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Hi @AgentPete (& @Jonny)
I see there's a huddle on Saturday 30th, so does that mean the Seminar is postponed?
Thanks.
I’m interviewing Alan Samson, chairman of Weidenfeld & Nicolson, on “Titles” this Thursday, so it will be impossible to get this cut into the seminar all ready for this Saturday... HOWEVER... Sat 6th Nov will be “firm”. Will make a full announcement in Colony later. This is just early warning for you, @CageSage :)
 

Ed Simnett

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Jul 25, 2021
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Should be interesting!

fwiw I have told repeatedly that titles are not a big deal for authors and "the publisher will change it anyway." Also worth noting how many books have different titles in the US vs the UK- Charles Cumming's book THE MAN BETWEEN was published in the US as THE MOROCCAN GIRL to pick one off my Kindle...

That said I got bitten by this in the Pop-Up submission I did (per EG Logan above on Slow Horses I went with a title that was a pun that makes sense once you have read the book).

My question for this might be how important is originality? We've had people oo and ahh over titles in Pop-Up Submissions that have been used 5 or more times by recent books #didnt_try_very_hard_got_a_result , but the struggle for short/memorable/unique gets harder every day (literally).