Sunday, 29 January 2006

One of the changes that I am going to have to make to Lord Alexander's Cipher; or, the Bridekirk Behemoth is the title. It's not the length, nor the punctuation. It's just that, as my agent pointed out to me, it isn't really Lord Alexander's cipher at all. He didn't create it (that was the French), nor did he break it (that was his mathematical friend Piers Monkhopton).

The cipher is, of course, critical to the plot, and Lord Alexander Hawkshead is the hero, but combining them both into a snappy but meaningful title isn't quite that easy. On the other hand, my agent likes the Bridekirk Behemoth part, so that will stay for the time being.

Another change that I fear will be necessary is to Lord Alexander's surname. Having spent a year writing an exciting and vaguely romantic adventure story about French spies and English heroes in the early 19th Century, I have now discovered that I am not the only one.

I haven't read James McGee's Ratcatcher yet (and I won't do so until I have delivered my rewrites), but my agent read it in manuscript a while back. She doesn't think that it scuppers me in any way, although it has probably holed some of my ideas for the sequel (Lady Cardington's Folly; or, the Limehouse Leviathan) below the waterline.

However there is the small matter of our respective heroes. Mine is Lord Alexander Hawkshead; James McGee's is Matthew Hawkwood. You can see the problem. If I changed his name to Handsawhead, would anybody know the difference?

4 comments:

Mandy said...

Stephen, great news about the book.

You could always call him Lord Alexander Cipher, thus solving the name problem and title problem in one ;)

Jan Jones said...

How about "Lord Alexander and the Cipher" ? Well, it worked for HP...


PS - and I told you ages ago that "Hawkshead" lacked credibility as a name :)

Julie said...

I don't know about you, but I can tell a hawk from a handsaw.

nina said...

Aw, shucks, Stephen, my hero also has a hawk in his name. Avian flu, anyone?