Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and fifty-sixth, is of novelist M.R. Cornelius.
Unlike other authors who have won an Edgar, or a National Book Critics Circle Award, the only contest Marsha Cornelius ever won was when she was eight years old. The prize was a Dale Evans cowgirl shirt – plaid with pearl snaps. She doesn’t remember exactly how she won the prize, but she’s sure it wasn’t for writing.
Early in her career, Cornelius tried her hand at romance, but soon discovered she was a dismal failure. She did increase her repertoire of adjectives such as throbbing, pulsing, thrumming, vibrating, hammering, pumping . . .
Her first novel, H10N1, is a post-apocalyptic thriller about a flu pandemic that has already wiped out most of the world’s population. The Ups and Downs of Being Dead, her latest book, is about a fifty-seven year-old man dying of cancer who chooses cryonic preservation over death.
Originally from Indiana, Cornelius now lives in the countryside north of Atlanta with her husband, and two molly-coddled cats who refuse to wear socks and dust the furniture. Her two college-aged sons visit regularly for food, clean laundry and cash.
And now from the author herself:
One would think that after laboring for months over each and every word of a 100,000-word novel, coming up with three or four more words for a title would be simple. Not so.
Creating a book title is more difficult than birthing a 10-pound baby without sedation. It’s definitely harder than naming your first-born. Not any old Sam or Sue will do. (Apologies to all the Sams and Sues out there. I’m merely going for some cheap alliteration.)
A catchy book title requires hours—days!—of serious thought. After all, this title will be your legacy, and your book will be stuck with that tag for the rest of its life.
Once I finished my first novel about a flu pandemic gone awry, I anguished over a suitable title. Fortunately, the Swine Flu was in full swing here in the US. For some reason the media wanted a snappier moniker, so the Swine Flu of 2009 will forever be known as H1N1.
As I watched dire reports on the news, I thought, ‘Geesh, this H1N1 is nothing compared to the viral pandemic that wipes out the world in my book.’ In fact, my virus was 10 times worse. (Wink-wink). Thus, my book became H10N1.
It seemed brilliant at the time. But I occasionally hear people call the book ‘H One Oh, N One’. Others choose to gloss over the title altogether and just refer to it as ‘your book about the flu.’ (Okay, so when it reaches legal age, it can change its name to Moonflower.)
Birthing the title for my second book was a breeze, and most people find it more readable than H10N1.
The novel begins the moment my main character, Robert, dies. Well, he’s not really dead. He’s been cryonically-preserved until scientists in the future find a way to thaw him out.
But technically, he’s a ghost, roaming the world, waiting to come back. And that could take 75 to 100 years. It seemed only natural that he would have some good experiences: like riding up front in the cockpit with the pilots; and some bad experiences: like not being able to enjoy a good scotch.
Now the title for my latest book, coming out this summer, was a bit more challenging. The story is about a Vietnam veteran who comes back from the war physically damaged. He lives on the streets of Atlanta, and eats at a soup kitchen. He meets a woman with two small children who have recently been evicted from their apartment.
At first, I focused on how this man and woman struggled to get their lives back on track. My working title was Getting It Together. But once the book was done, I realized that most of the book was about how much the characters had lost, and I realized I had a breech birth on my hands. So I switched it around, and it became Losing It All.
Now that the title for the book has been decided, all I have to do is write a short little 250-word blurb for the back jacket and . . . Noooooo!
Morgen: ‘The Ups and Downs of Being Dead’… what a fantastic title. Thank you, M.R.
You can find more about M.R. and her writing via:
- Her website (and blog): http://mrcornelius.com
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/marshacornelius
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marsha.r.cornelius
- Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4993738.M_R_Cornelius
- Amazon links:
- H10N1 – (US) http://amzn.to/urF61L and
The Ups and Downs of Being Dead – (US) http://amzn.to/LvCEf7 and
The blog interviews return tomorrow with children’s author and novelist Debbie Dadey – the six hundred and twentieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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- Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group (http://novelwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/508696639153189)
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