Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for March 21st, 2011

Goodbye, Kamera

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So as you may have noticed, there have been some significant changes to this blog since last week. My first novel, which is still scheduled to come out in February of next year, will no longer be called Kamera. Instead, you can all look forward to reading The Icon Thief. Why the change? It’s a long story, but the short version is that I don’t think anyone, myself included, was ever entirely satisfied by the title Kamera. On the one hand, I loved its compactness and opacity, and the fact that it had three distinct meanings in the context of the novel. On the other hand, nobody seemed to know what the hell it meant—or even how they were supposed to pronounce it. (I always said it like “camera,” but purists rightly preferred the Russian pronunciation.) And it didn’t give you much of a sense of the genre, tone, or story. For a debut novel that will largely be sold by its title and cover, this was a significant problem.

Things came to a head about two weeks ago, during the cover art meeting at NAL. After the meeting, my excellent editor told me that everyone was enthusiastic about the book, but noted that several attendees had raised some concerns about the title. When he very gently asked if I would consider changing it, after some thought, I agreed. It wasn’t an easy decision, and part of me was reluctant to part with a title that I had been using for more than two years. Truth be told, though, I was a little sick of Kamera as well—as my brother-in-law likes to point out, it’s rather reminiscent of a certain flying turtle—so I welcomed the chance to start with something new.

Which isn’t to say that it was easy. The first two titles I pitched—The Merchant of Salt and The Secret Museum—didn’t exactly set the world on fire. In the end, I did pretty much what you might have expected: I made a mind map. I stared for a long time at the other books on my shelves. And it was the title of James Billington’s The Icon and the Axe, which I’ve spoken about here before, that finally pointed me in the right direction. Once I came up with The Icon Thief, it just seemed right—it evokes Russia, crime, and the art world, and also suggests, at least to me, the central figure of Marcel Duchamp, who cheerfully appropriated existing objects and symbols for his own incomparable work.

All in all, then, I’m pleased by new the title. Unless, of course, it ends up changing again. In the meantime, though, you can update your Amazon searches accordingly. (And for more stories of titles that changed at the last minute, check out an amusing article here.)

Written by nevalalee

March 21, 2011 at 8:56 am

Quote of the Day

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The newspapers once published a story about a noted psychologist, and quoted him as saying that the four words that most easily arouse emotion in Americans are Lincoln, mother, doctor, and dog. This news fired the imagination of one young writer, who immediately wrote a story and topped it with what he described as the most ideal title of all time: Lincoln’s Mother’s Doctor’s Dog.

Scott Meredith, Writing to Sell

Written by nevalalee

March 21, 2011 at 8:36 am

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