So Old Man and I went to my friend Belinda Gannaway‘s jolly birthday party on Saturday night in the very atmospheric conditions of Brighton Sailing Club on the rainy, stormy, high tide seafront. (Brighton Sailing Club sounds frightfully grand, but it’s really just a slightly damp promenade arch with a cheap bar).
Anyway, Belinda came up and said ‘you must meet my friend Ben Hatch. He’s a novelist too.’ So we did. We spent the evening trying to chat with Ben and his lovely wife, Dinah. Trying, because there was a general determination that the party should be a dancing rather than talking event, so we had to yell over Pigbag and suchlike. But I think it was established that we all got on rather well. Ben was a bright young thing novelist – he wrote the Lawnmower Celebrity, and The International Gooseberry back in the late 1990s, and since then, he and Dinah, a travel journalist, have been writing great books about travelling with your family (yes, they had some children in the early 2000’s). In between all this, he has just finished his third novel.
So, some time into the evening, he asked me what the name of my novel is. I told him and he went pale. He turned to me and told me that his novel is called The Cuckoo, which, we had to agree, is pretty similar.
I have written here about how I agonised over finding a unique title for CUCKOO, and how I was pretty certain I had got it right. And Ben was too. I’m not sure if the addition of ‘The’ qualifies it as unique. Perhaps it’s something in the sea air down here. But of all the bars in all the world, I didn’t, in Brighton Sailing Club, expect to run into someone who had given their novel the same title as mine. Unfortunately for Ben, I got there first, so it’s too late for me to change. Phew. But what a bummer for him.
Despite my book-buying embargo (my to-read pile threatens to fall over and crush me), I’ve ordered his novels from Amazon. They look really funny.
The other altogether odd thing is that in my illustrator life, I drew the image for Old Man’s Royal Court play, The Author. Quite independently of my novel, he came up to me in March 2009 and told me he wanted an image of a cuckoo baby bird being fed by an adult wren. It’s on the cover of the book version of The Author, too.
On the same subject, a provisional title for novel#2 has finally presented itself, and I think it might have legs. However, Agent Simon, my sounding board in all things titular, is mulling it over. He hasn’t, as in the past, come back with an immediate ‘nah’, so perhaps he even thinks it might be passable…I’m not going to jinx things yet though and put it out there. Not until he gets back to me…