Friday, October 30, 2009

The Times, the Names…

In an e-mail comment on the last post, Michelle (la sage-femme and funny ghost-writer of Pontoon Pirates) had this to say among other things:

Just for fun : in Paris there are two streets like Die Grosse and Die Kleine Freiheit. They are rue de la Grande Truanderie and rue de la Petite Truanderie in the 1st arrondissement. They, like rue de la Brèche-aux-Loups in the 12th and rue de La Grange-aux-Belles in the 10th, have often made me wonder dreamily where those names came from... Much more inspirational than Main street, no? But Grand rue also exists in France, in Etueffont as a matter of fact.

Wonderful. A truanderie is a swindle. Next we have “the Breach of the Wolves,” thereafter the “Barn of the Beauties.” Now concerning the wolves, I wonder if the original name referred to a huge or an especially wide breach or opening, this because in French wolf is also used as a word of emphasis. In that language, like in English, you’re hungry as a wolf; but in France you can also be cold as a wolf.

Michelle also commented on the dissonance that sometimes appears between the cover and the content when the intention is to-draw-attention-for-profit. She comments on the three book covers I’ve trotted out in the last few days:

Those covers look great today, don’t they? Vintage 1970s sci-fi creativeness! I remember thinking, back then, that they were, how shall I put it, a bit loud for my taste and mostly not at ALL what I had imagined when hearing the books [read out loud]. Those brash, colorful covers were light-years away from Darnay genes. Strange, huh?

This reminds me of a true story told by Idries Shah regarding his forays into publishing Sufi materials to a western audience. Shah’s writings have been very successful, but not so in the beginning. His first books had very formal and scholarly covers; they were intended for a scholarly audience. Sales were nil. Shah then had the covers changed; now they were vivid, colorful, and showed intriguing, romantic images. Sales—still from the scholarly community, first targeted in mailings—suddenlyshot up. And then stayed up thereafter.

Does that suggest that I should to change the cover of Ghulf Genes (the novel)? A gyrating belly-dancer? A Conan-like muscle-bound half-naked hunk charging a monster?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Smell? You’re right enough about the smell, Bill, but I was talking about sell. Get it? Sell!


  1. At some point in the future you can bring out a second edition -- perhaps with a cover that has a gyrating belly-dancer dancing on top of a monster who's being charged by a Conan-like hunk.

    In any case, I bought a copy through Amazon the other day, cover just as is.

  2. Naturally, I'm delighted! Waiting for your first volume of poetry!!

  3. I'm hoping for topless blue women on that second cover.

  4. If you look at Pontoon Pirates today, you'll see that Michelle is already working on getting me the perfect picture.


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