How long does it take to find the perfect title for a book that you’ve written twice and spent nearly three years thinking about?
Ages, is the answer. Aaaaages. How do you sum up a book that is a coming-of-age teenage birthday summer holiday story with a bit of time-travel, two main characters who are really the same person, a pretty eyelinery boy named Merlin, and a family story which is funny, and sad, and sometimes both at once?
My lovely editor Marion Lloyd, her assistant Anna Solemani (who is also lovely, but ‘lovely assistant’ sounds quite wrong) and I sat in her office a few weeks ago, armed with our shortlist of the very best ideas, planning to pluck the solution from the pile before a nice bit of lunch. FOUR AND A HALF HOURS LATER, we still had nothing. Nowt. Nada. We had tried every dodgy pun; every timey-wimey birthday-wishy beachy-but-not-too-beachy summertime phrase. I had, it appeared, written an untitleable book.
It was nearly two more weeks before we got there. And inevitably, now we have, it seems impossible that it was ever called anything else. The perfect title.
You want to know the title? OK, bear with me a sec.
Because, of course, now we had the perfect title, we also had a squeaky-tight schedule, and designers at work on the next big decision: the cover. I was a teensy bit worried. Covers are as hard to get right as titles. We did not have three years of thinking time. IT COULD STILL ALL GO HORRIBLY WRONG.
Only, here’s the thing. You know those designer people? They’re really clever. Properly, remarkably clever. The super-talented Jamie managed somehow to take all that madly disparate stuff, and produce a cover that’s fresh and bright and utterly apt. The perfect cover.
And even though it isn’t out until August 2012 -I know! Aaaages! – the (lovely, so lovely) people at Marion Lloyd Books and Scholastic UK said I could share it.
Look at my girls! Bluebell – aka Blue – is on the left. Red – who is actually Bluebell, too, but from one year in the future (did I mention this book was complicated?) – she’s on the right. Obviously. And I want to hug them both, lots. I hope you will too.
PS: For those following at home who are now going ‘eh? I thought your next book was about peas and mermaids’ – yes, the first of the Pea’s Book series is coming out summer 2012 too. Other magical designer-people are still tweaking the cover into ultimate perfection, but what I’ve seen already is every bit as perfectly suited to that story – in a completely different way. Will share as soon as I can…!