Monday, March 28, 2011

The Bruce Trilogy: Clearing up confusion on titles

But isn't there another Bruce Trilogy - I mean, besides the one by me? Yes, there is.

Nigel Tranter also wrote a trilogy about Robert the Bruce in the early 1970's. Since this has caused some confusion, I'd like to address that matter. About ten years ago, I began writing a story centered on Robert the Bruce. As it often does, my research kept mushrooming and over the course of four years that story evolved until I had what I considered to be three distinct books.

When I sought out an agent for the first of these books, The Crown in the Heather, the agent who eventually took interest, upon finishing it, asked me if there was a second book and to please send it on. I did - and then he asked if there was a third. There was.

Between us, we started out calling the books 'the Bruce trilogy' and on the title pages we put the book's main title, followed by 'The Bruce Trilogy: Book I' (or II or III), so it would be clear that they belonged together and what order they went in. We shopped the books around as The Bruce Trilogy. It seemed descriptively fitting. It had been over three decades since Nigel Tranter's The Bruce Trilogy had been published, so we didn't feel we would be stepping on any toes. Not one editor objected to the title of the series.

It is a strict policy of mine that I only read non-fiction about the characters I intend to write about, no novels, because I want my interpretation to be unique. Thus, I have never read any of Tranter's books in full, although I'm sure they're quite good, since so many people still speak so highly of him.

There are also novels about Robert the Bruce (either recently or soon to be published) by Robert Low, Robyn Young and Jack Whyte, as well as many other novels set in Scotland during that time. I love it when there are multiple books about the same historical figures, because you're sure to find one that suits your individual tastes. The more, the merrier.

Neither book titles nor series titles can be copyrighted. Publishers and authors try as much as possible to come up with unique titles, but sometimes it's simply not appropriate. Many, many books bear the same title - the differentiation then is settled by the author's name, year of publication and, of course, content.

If you look up 'Worth Dying For' on Amazon, you'll find a dozen or more books bearing that as their title or part of their title. Right about the same time I released Worth Dying For (The Bruce Trilogy: Book II), bestselling mystery/thriller writer Lee Childs had also just put out a book called Worth Dying For. I chose the title because it comes from a line in my book that encompasses what the story is about. ("And in that, I never saw more truth . . . than to truly live, was to have something worth dying for.") I wasn't trying to dupe any of Lee Childs' readers into buying my book any more than he or his publishers were trying to trick fans of Beverly Barton, who also had a book called Worth Dying For published in 2009, into buying his.

When a title is right for a book - or a series, for that matter - it just is.

To complete my (N. Gemini Sasson's) The Bruce Trilogy, I plan on releasing the third installment, The Honor Due a King, later this year. And yes, I've already Googled that title. It's not taken. Yet.

P.S. To those who may have wondered, yes, there is a sequel to Isabeau planned, as well. Who knows - there may even be a third book in that storyline.

Happy reading,

No comments: