‘And I thought writing a novel was hard. Try naming it.’ Me, April. 2018 

We all know the difficulty in naming things. I don’t just mean first thing in the morning when you’re pointing and mouthing at the kettle in the hope someone might translate despite living alone. But you’re not alone. Since Ug first turned to Ug and pointed at Ug, it became clear that it was important to differentiate some things from others.

In fact it’s what humans do, it’s a defining feature of our dominance of the planet, we go around naming things and then kill them off, but that’s not to say it’s easy, naming I mean, not driving species to extinction. The Americans often get it wrong, what’s with egg plant as opposed to aubergine, while Eskimos found themselves with too many words and too little to name, so chose to distinguish fifty types of snow, which is still about 1000 less words than the English have for rain.

Of course car manufactures constantly struggle with names. That there was a meeting at Renault in which the Twingo was agreed as capturing the essence of their new model is the sort of event that those participating in have since drowned in Villages Macon. Mind you, at least they retain the ability to look people in the eye, unlike those involved with the Ford Ka.

Meanwhile, HP clearly don’t struggle with product names, with the rather snappily named dv8000z printer, but then I guess you don’t spend pub conversions recommending printers to friends, that’s for books, films and bands. They live or die by their name; it doesn’t matter how good the prose is if it’s called Mr Front’s Behind.

There’s still a list of unused children’s’ names in my phone, which makes naming future dogs easy, although they all answer adequately to ‘Oi.’ But book titles are far more important than pet names. Titles need to be catchy, intriguing, and ones not used before, which is a shame because George Orwell nabbed them all. Of course no one ever judges a book by its cover, (which is why illustration is a multi-million pound industry), but the title needs to promise everything even if it fails to deliver

Annoyingly I have a title for the unwritten 3rd Life Assistance novel, yet the completed 2nd one is without a title, or rather has more names than Eskimo snow. Of course asking people for opinion only confuses things, as they all like different ones and not my favourite. A Twitter poll of alternatives doesn’t help, you just get loads of support for the title you put in as a joke to provide some balance.

Neil Tennant has frequently named songs after books, Can you Forgive Her? for example, but that doesn’t help when entitling other books unless you want to test ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ by a visit to court. Perhaps songs are a good inspiration., but then there is also the Ronseal approach, but if my new novel did what it says on the tin, the tin would read – The Life Assistance Agency abandon their USP by refusing to scry for angels opting instead to write biographies for fading pop stars, yet become entangled with 400-year-old unfinished business- which is definitely too long as a title.

Ah, perhaps I’ve just found it…

The first Life Assistance Agency novel was selected by WHSmith Fresh Talent 2017 –  is available here – http://myBook.to/lifeassistance

and here

http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-life-assistance-agency,thomas-hocknell-9781911129035

and on ebook here –