Accidental Error Effect

It’s been a funny ole year, 2012, during whose 365 days, or, as it may be, 366, I have spent much of the time acting as a test subject for psychoactive drugs.

The citalopram that had kept the demons away for years finally gave up the struggle in February. Mirtazapine was tried and failed with a bang; sertraline, more with a whimper, even when propped up with pericyazine. I am now ramping up on venlafaxine, still popping the pericyazine. That’s three five different antipsychotics in less than a year. No wonder I feel tired.

Notwithstanding inasmuch as which I still managed to join a rock band that really kicks some bottom, as well as put out a couple of books. A third is to follow in 2013, sometime in September.

And thereby hangs a tale.

Perhaps the trickiest part of writing a book is getting the right title. If you are lucky, you’ll come up with a title that hits the bullseye. When Crox Minima came up with that golden phrase Defiant the Guinea-Pig: Firefighter! the story practically wrote itself. On the other hand, the book that I wrote that began its synopsis as Dinosaurs Don’t Climb Trees was named in the eventual publishing contract as Thirty Ghosts but was eventually published as In Search of Deep Time. It is similarly rumoured that when Paul McCartney wrote a tune for a haunting ballad but didn’t immediately find inspirations for the words to go with it, he gave it the title of Scrambled Egg. ‘Scrambled Egg’, he would croon, presumably to Lennon’s irritation, ‘All I ever want is Scrambled Egg’. But that was Yesterday.

slide.001Similarly in like fashion, the book I’ve recently finished for the University of Chicago Press was to have been called The Beowulf Effect. I liked that name, but it only applied properly to a small part of the book rather than encapsulerating the whole thing, so I came up with The Human Error, which seemed more in tune with the subject, which is human exceptionalism and our perhaps understandable if erroneous tendency to inflate our own importance. The publishers liked that more, but came up with something which we all agree is a finer moniker, and that’s

- roll of drums -

- clears throat -

The Accidental Species.

As luck would have it, Mrs Crox has just passed me the phone from which has issued the cheery voice of the copy editor, who’s been through the lot and wants to email me the edits. So – we’re off!

Even later than the title, people decide on the cover. The one I have here is just a placeholder. No doubt the ‘real’ one will be different.

About cromercrox

Cromercrox is a recovering palaeontologist, author and editor who lists his recreations as writing, beachcombing, playing hard rock organ, supporting Norwich City FC and falling asleep.
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9 Responses to Accidental Error Effect

  1. Excellent. I still have a draft of The Beowulf Effect which you kindly emailed me a while ago. Looking forward to the final thing, cover and all. :)

  2. Nico (@nfanget) says:

    So which was the inspiration for that title, the rom-com or the Kung Fu action flick?

    I am amazed at how productive you manage to be while dealing with those cocktails of drugs, my cap is dutifully doffed. And I love that cover :)

    • cromercrox says:

      Thanks Nico – the new title for the book is the publisher’s doing so I can’t comment on what might have inspired it!

  3. Laurence Cox says:

    If it’s as good as “Deep Time” then I’ll certainly be looking out for it in the bookshops. I reckon you will have to change the cover though, it’s too suggestive of a progression from ape to man.

    • cromercrox says:

      Thanks Laurence. The cover is just a placeholder – the publisher will no doubt have its own ideas. Thanks for the kind words about ‘Deep Time’. ‘The Accidental Species’ goes over some of the same ground, but – I hope – with greater clarity.

  4. John the Plumber says:

    There can’t be a better image of the deepness of time than your description Henry, of you in a silent room staring at the skull of the oldest fossil ancestor. – That is stamped in my brain from my reading your draft..

    Yes the ‘procession of ape’ illustration is old hat – but your book (if I read the draft right) is about the rare chanciness of the whole business – anything might happen even though the result might seem a direct route of succession.. Darwin’s thought bubble “don’t follow me I’m lost too” affixed to the procession, is a genius level way of summing the book.. – Love it. – Hope it doesnt’ get lost from the final product.

    • cromercrox says:

      Thank you John. What’ll happen is that the publisher will commission a designer to do the book jacket and then ask me for comments. From long experience I have learned simply to say ‘yes’ to anything, as suggesting changes has absolutely no effect at all. U. of Chicago Press, however, is the most exacting and yet author-friendly publisher I’ve worked with, so perhaps there’ll be room for discussion.

  5. Hurrah! I like the title. Wrangling over titles is a vexing business, I know from experience. The funniest secret in the business is that the final title of a certain novel of an acquaintance of both of ours was actually the initial – and eventually replaced – title of Experimental Heart. I believe my Library of Congress copyright deposit of that august manuscript still bears the other title.

    What are the odds?

    I hope the experiment finally works for you. xxx