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Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Naming rights

With the birth of child number 3 only weeks away (gulp!) my thoughts have, rather predictably, turned to what we're going to call the little blighter. This is a responsibility I take very seriously. A name is, after all, something you carry with you your entire life (unless your name is Steven Demetre Giorgio / Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam) and can define at least part of who you are. I, for one, still bear the scars of being one of four James' in my class. In fact, I'm sure it is some latent insecurity from then that still compels me to introduce myself on the phone as "James Twining", convinced that if I just say "James", they'll confuse me with the two hundred other James' that I assume are cluttering their address book. How I envied classmates Lakis Kakouris, Giles Channot and Umair Khan. You don't get two of those to a packet...

We don't know what flavour the baby is yet, so for a boy I'm now thinking "Dante Napoleon Lincoln Twining" and for a girl "Cleopatra CoCo Twining". No-one's going to confuse them with anyone else. No siree! At least that's what I'm telling my wife. You see, when we had our second daughter, we struck a deal that she could name her Jemima on the condition that if we had a third, I would get exclusive naming rights, making me a sort of latter day Rumplestiltkin (now there's a thought...) It's given me hours of pleasure over the last few months to run ever more outlandish suggestions past her, especially ones where she only realises a few days later that the initials spell out a rude word - anyone for Frederick Arthur Robert Twining?

Still, at least all this is a hell of a lot easier than naming a book. I've posted before about the difficulties of settling on The Gilded Seal as a title, but the experience of naming Book IV has been a really painful one. It's certainly not been helped by Harper Collins's sales department, whose ability for lateral thinking should seem them all apply immediately to Mensa.

My first suggestion was The Delian League - a reference to an alliance of city states in Ancient Greece that features in the novel. Their reaction? People might think it's a cookery book! I'm serious. They thought people might seen Delian and assume it had something to do with TV chef Delia Smith. So much for trying to rise above the masses and write a thriller with an intellectual edge!

Undaunted, I reached for my back-up option - The Skeleton Key. Cue sharp intake of breath through teeth. It's good but it just sounds a bit ... morbid; Like it might be a horror book?

Okaaaaay... The Time Lock? Too Science Fiction. The Carravaggio Conspiracy? Too unpronounceable. The Da Vinci Code? Perfect ... Oh wait a minute, I think someone else has had that already.

In desperation, I turned to my Joker: The Ivory Key. Polite cough. Is it about pianos?

In total I suggested 88 different titles. Yes that's right, 88. Don't believe me? See for yourself below - I've copied them at the bottom . Have you any idea how hard it is to come up with 88 titles for the same book, of the strange corners of the mind you have to dig around in? And the winning suggestion, after 8 months of debate?

The Geneva Deception.

Actually, I quite like this, although by the end I would have happily accepted Mr Floppy's Big Banana just to put me out of my misery. Geneva is where a lot of the action happens. The title also hints at the failures in the Swiss legal system that make it a haven for art smuggling and is an interesting play on the familiar Geneva Convention as well as hinting at The French Connection which can't be a bad thing.

So, one naming dilemma solved, which still leaves me with the question of what to call my latest offspring. What about Cosmo Uther Nemo .... Oh do grow up!!

***

The 88 titles!

1 The Vegas Deception 2 The Geneva Deception 3 The Rome Deception 4 The Vatican Deception 5 The Roman Deception 6 The Apollo Deception 7 The Ivory Deception 8 The Merisi Deception 9 The Caravaggio Key 10 The Caravaggio Legacy 11 The Lost Caravaggio 12 The Ivory Mask 13 The Ivory Face 14 The Ivory Key 15 The Ivory Mask 16 The Ivory Face 17 The Ivory God 18 The Lost City 19 The Eternal City 20 The Geneva Connection 21 The Mafia Connection 22 The Twisted Serpents 23 The Serpent's Shadow 24 The Serpent's Tail 25 The Serpent Divided 26 The Serpent's Tomb 27 The Forked Serpent 28 The Serpents' League 29 The Mafia Legacy 30 The Mafia League 31 The Mafia Connection 32 The Mafia Key 33 The Merisi Legacy 34 The Merisi League 35 The Broken League 36 The Fractured League 37 The Hollow Ring 38 The Severed Ring 39 The Sixth Watch 40 The Hidden Tomb 41 The Secret Tomb 42 The Roman Tomb 43 The Carved Face 44 The Carved God 45 The Pale God 46 The Fractured Mask 47 The False Shuffle 48 The True Count 49 The Rider Bet 50 The Cut Card 51 The Burn Card 52 The Split Bet 53 The American Wheel 54 The Combination Bet 55 The Street Bet 56 The Flat Bet 57 The Pair Split 58 The Wild Card 59 The Tomb Robbers 60 The Shadow League 61 The Dark League 62 The League of Shadows 63 The Secret League 64 The Viper League 65 The Veiled League 66 The Vegas Betrayal 67 The Coiled Serpents 68 The Glittering Serpent 69 The Locked Serpent 70 The Dark Serpent 71 The Veiled Serpents 72 The Ivory League73 The Ivory Gambit 74 The Ivory Gamble 75 The Missing Watch 76 The Seventh Watch 77 The Missing Nativity 78 The Lost Watch 79 The Empty Grave 80 The Grave Betrayal 81 The Fractured Grave 82 The Open Tomb 83 The Bare Tomb 84 The Barren Tomb 85 The Floating Lead 86 The Spoils of Death 87 The Looter's Prize 88 The Looter's Charter
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