Transient City Reveals Part 2 – Titles

While I toil on TC’s sequel (working title: Rogue Town), I’ve been re-reading parts of TC for details, names, clues to the future and past, etc. I thought I’d blog explaining some of the chapter titles. I had a lot of fun tagging the chapters as I wrote the early drafts and I’ll share a few of the processes and ‘secrets’.

I, Witness (1), a play on ‘eyewitness’ from Victor’s point of view. If he had a business card, it would read “Victor Stromboli—I Witness”.

More wordplay ensues with Opportunity Rocks (Knocks); The Elusive and Reclusive; The Wild Yonder (no blue on Lodan); Perilous Plains (surprised it wasn’t used in the 1960’s Batman TV show); If Shoes Fit; The Smell of Defeat (okay, this was spurred by a short story assigned in Junior High about two school-age ski jumpers competing for glory, the one most doubtful about his ability, wins. Before he does, his teammate advises to get rid of his ‘defeatist attitude’. “It’s not de feet, it’s de skis”); Homecoming Charade (parade); The Spoils of Victor; Rest In Pieces; Hail Mary; He Who Baits (waits); and The Shadows Know (old time radio ‘The Shadow Knows, hmwah hah hah’). Okay, they’re not all good and some a little cheeky; some quite obvious but they all were fun to wrap the chapter around. A mini-thematic journey, if you will.

Perhaps less obvious are the music-related titles; homages to songs and artists who influenced my adolescence. Park Bench Bookends (5) refers to Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Old Friends’ (“Sat on the park bench like bookends”); The Steel Forest (6) Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Home from the Forest’; Fruit of the Vine (18), Jimmy Gilmore and the Fireballs; Carry That Weight (21), The Beatles; Having a Heat Wave (23), Martha and the Vandelas or Linda Ronstadt; Running On Empty (25), Jackson Brown; and On The Wings of a Nightingale (29), Kathy is Florence, recorded by the Everly Brothers, written by Paul McCartney and produced by Dave Edmunds (major provenance).

The Beige Woman (7) refers to Blaze, dressed in beige and to all appearances, mind-cloaked in dull monotone too. A clever camouflage. My inspiration is Raymond Chandler’s haunting and menacing ‘man in brown’ from The Big Sleep. The other literary reference is Sucks To Your Government (10). One line which stuck with me for years after studying William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was “sucks to your asthma”. It encapsulates how Victor feels about his secondment to the Miquelon.

Transient City contains numerous homages to popular culture (mainly British) which I loved in the 1960’s and ’70’s. The Avengers topped the list so it ranked two titles. Umbrella, Charm and Bowler (14) is the translated German title of the show, ‘Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone’. Forget-Me-Knot (33) is the title of Diana Rigg’s departure episode (actually filmed long after she’d announced her leave-the producers brought her back to bridge the new series featuring Linda Thorson).

The last is a personal one, A Roguing We Will Go (28), sung to the tune of ‘A Hunting We Will Go’. Besides referring to the inhabitants of Rogue Town, it hearkens to my youth on the uncle’s farm north of Calgary. Roguing in agriculture terms means pulling weeds, not as exciting as it sounds. I wasn’t roguing garden plots by hand, I was weeding quarter sections at a time in wheat and barley fields.

Which brings me to Rogue Town the book. Who’s going to feed all the new refugees, including Victor and Shoes, in the burgeoning independent settlement? A task for a new character. See if you can decipher his etymology when the novel comes out in 2017 from Bundoran Press, given the information above.

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