The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It is not the longest title in the history of literature, (that honor goes to Nigel Tomm) but I’ll tell you what, every time I type it, and I’m still typing and still typing and still typing, it feels like the longest to me. The sequel is hardly shorter: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. What I have on my hands is a pattern—and I continually give thanks to my cover designers who manage to fit all those words plus my long name and a wyvern on a single book jacket.
So why did I saddle myself and my hardworking graphic designers with a twelve word title?
Well, it started out as a joke.
Fairyland, which is how I tend to shorten the title to save my fingers, began as a book-within-a-book in my adult novel Palimpsest. It is the favorite childhood novel of the protagonist of that work—I wanted to create a book for her that felt like The Wizard of Oz or Narnia or A Wrinkle in Time, but instead of porting the sometimes regressive messages of those books into my own, give her a children’s text that was about embracing the magical world, not escaping it to get back home as soon as possible. To amuse, mainly, myself, I drew with broad strokes the feeling of an old children’s novel from the 1910s or 20s: the generic Fairyland rather than the very specific secondary worlds popular in fantasy now, an arch, knowing narrator, a whimsical, wide-eyed style with what would nowadays be considered a high vocabulary. It was meant to be a loving pastiche of those novels—right down to a long, unwieldy title that the current trends of one word titles would reject. (Of course, I had no way of knowing at the time that a new trend was on its way—titles that began with the phrase “The Girl Who” led by Stieg Larsson. Ah well. There is nothing new under the sun.)
As my original intent did not involve ever writing or publishing Fairyland (the author is identified as H.F. Weckweet in Palimpsest), I didn’t think much about such a crazy title—many things an author commits in text simply amuse the author. I don’t think I really expected anyone to say “A HA! This is a pastiche of pre-WWI children’s novels!”
But as happens when you deal with fairies, the world had other plans. Fairyland became a viral juggernaut when I began posting it online and a great success in print, and now I’m stuck with my twelve-word title. But the funny thing is, people tell me all the time that they bought the book because of the title, that they love knowing so much about the story right up front, and the anticipation formed by reading and wondering when the circumnavigating is going to kick in. The novel quite literally does what it says on the tin, and I like being so bald with my literary intentions. It’s a challenge to come up with new ones (Fairyland is a five book series at the moment) since there’s really no formula to it other than long, active verb, conjunction, secondary clause. It’s like a puzzle. I’m working on the third book right now and I have pieces of a title but it hasn’t quite come together yet.
Titles are difficult—I suspect they’re difficult for everyone. Unless it falls into your head with a blinding light of awesomeness, it’s very hard to find a set of words to stand for the story as a whole. Fairyland, which began as a joke, ended up being a rather sly and neat solution to the problem—say what you’re going to do and then do what you say.
Thanks for that fab post Cat! Now onto the giveaway! You can win one of TEN (10) copies of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making! Isn't that exciting?! All you have to do is read the rules and then fill in the Rafflecopter below.
- Open to UK entrants only
- Prizes will be sent out by the publisher
-Neither me or the publisher are responsible for any prizes lost in the post
- Giveaway closes on 18th June 2012 at 12:01a.m. - results will be announced in the next couple of days. Sorry for the short entry time, but I will be going on holidays on the 20th for a few weeks so I want to announce the winner before then!
-To enter fill in the Rafflecopter below