I was at an anniversary party this past weekend (Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!) and, as often happens at such events, someone who knows what I do for a living asked about the next book and when it would be released (E.J. Copperman's e-book special A WILD GHOST CHASE comes December 31, which doesn't seem all that far away anymore, and then the fourth Haunted Guesthouse novel CHANCE OF A GHOST will be due on February 5). I related the information duly, and she asked what the book is called.
Now, you're going to think this next part is crazy, but only because it is. Keep in mind that I realize it's a symptom of a mental problem, but I'm not sure which one. I only mention it here because, well, it's my day to post and the well is a little dry just now.
Anyway, this woman asked the title of my next book. And, for not the first time in my life, I pretended to have to think about it, like I'd forgotten the title of the work that I'd spent months writing and more months rewriting, that I am now in the process of beginning to publicize and that I hope will be an international success, or even a regional one, if a whole lot of people in one region buy it.
I stood there, doing some very bad acting about how I couldn't remember the name ("There are two of them, and I have to remember which is which"), until the conversation shifted.
Hi. My name is Jeff, and I don't like to say titles out loud.
It's true. I can't explain it, but I have a particular aversion to stating the name of my works (and, to be fair, almost everyone else's) aloud. I have no such problem with writing them. When I typed the two titles (those would be A WILD GHOST CHASE and CHANCE OF A GHOST) above, I did not hesitate nor did I try to change the subject. But ask me to talk about any of my books and I'll usually refer to them as "one of the movie theater books" or "a ghost book" without saying the actual printed title.
No, I don't understand it either.
This is something of a self-imposed handicap for an author. If there's one thing you should be really eager to shout from the rooftops, it should be the name of the work you're trying to make famous. I'm sure you don't find Stephen King pretending to forget Cujo or J.K. Rowling "not recalling" which Harry Potter book was which (witch?). William Shakespeare probably ran around town yelling "Hamlet!" so often that somebody came up to him and said, "Geez, Bill, if you want to live in a bigger town, move back to London."
Luckily, the Internet has made it possible to communicate with innumerable people all at the same time without having to actually use your vocal cords. So you'll be reading the titles A WILD GHOST CHASE and CHANCE OF A GHOST plenty in the coming weeks. And it's not like I'll never say one of my titles in conversation; it's just that I usually try to avoid it.
It makes no sense. I realize that. And it's not an absolute: As Gene Wilder said in The Producers, "It's a minor compulsion; I can deal with it if I want to."
After all, they say that admitting you have a problem is the first step.