What’s in a name?

I’ve been talking to my editor about my next novel. Not Bone Machine, the one that’s coming out in January (or April in the US) but my next one. The one I’m writing now. Due for release in January 2008 (or April in the US – hopefully). Trouble is, apparently there’s a novel coming out next year with the same name. And with the same publisher, Simon and Schuster.

You see, I’ve always named by books after songs, from Mary’s Prayer through to The Mercy Seat. I like doing that. It creates a resonance with something that’s already out there and a bond with like-minded readers. And, of course, titles are in the public domain so you don’t have to pay for any of them. You see, I’m calling the next one The Killing Moon (yeah, after the old Echo and the Bunnymen song) and so is someone else. Chuck Hogan, next year.

This got me curious. I know, theoretically, two books can have the same title, one perhaps in homage to the other even, with no real overlap or fear of being mistaken for each other. For instance, Ian Rankin’s Dead Souls,while existing as a seperate entity, was also a tip of the hat to Gorky’s. That’s fine. But not something better known. Obviously, it would be pretty stupid to call a contemporary novel War and Peace or Don Quixote.

So I wondered whether anyone else had ever called a novel The Killing Moon. And yes, they have. In fact, so many that mine wouldn’t be THE Killing Moon, just A Killing Moon. There’s Chuck Hogan’s obviously, there’s a one from 1990 by Bill Kelly and Dolph Le Moult. There’s Under A Killing Moon: The Strategy Guide and Under A Killing Moon:The Novel, both spin offs from a mid-Nineties computer game. Takematsu Killing Moon about which nothing else is known, Rebecca York’s romantic thriller, Killing Moon, Killing With The Edge Of The Moon, A A Attanasio’s ‘dark, erotic, otherworld thriller’ and, most intriguingly of all, Killing Moon (Silhouette Intimate Moments No. 159) by Amanda Stevens. Interestingly, they’ve all come out after the song in 1984.

It’s a good title. And I like to get the title sorted before starting work on the novel. It helps me to shape the book. But that might have to change this time round. If I have to change it, I’m toying with We Are The Dead (David Bowie, Diamond Dogs era, don’t you know) or White Riot. And you shouldn’t need me to tell you who that’s by. I’ve always wanted to call a book Die You Bastard after that Motorhead classic (well I think it’s a classic) but somehow I don’t think that would get me on Richard and Judy or even Oprah. But there’s a couple of possibles that might have to do. Unless anyone can think of any others?