My forthcoming novel was originally called Fellow Mortals, a title I chose because “fellow” is a good-sounding word that expressed the community vibe of the story, and “mortals” because the book is preoccupied with death and loss and moving on with our lives in spite of the specter of mortality, and also because an earlier version made explicit use of Greek mythology and “mortals” has a classical Greeky quality. (The singular “mortal” might have indicated that my book was a drugstore thriller, which sadly it is not.) Fellow Mortals was easy to pronounce and short enough to remember and fit the book, so win-win-win.
But then I had second thoughts because I cut most of the mythology (it started feeling to me like very pretentious first-novelist stuff), and my aunt and mother could never remember the title when friends and relatives asked, and, as the FSG publicity director noted, it sounded rather like something Cicero might have pronounced before the Senate.
I liked Pine because a lot of the book is set in the woods and there was the double-meaning of grief/yearning. But marketing worried it was too quiet and vague, and after weeks of batting around, oh, hundreds of unsuccessful word combinations that ranged from overpoetic to not-quite-right t “Dennis Needs to Step Away and Clear His Head”, my editor and her boss put their brains together and thought, you know, Fellow Mortals works great for this thing, and I found myself in total agreement.
So, to quote Cicero in a way that may or may not be relevant, “Saepe autem ne utile quidem est scire quid futurum sit; miserum est enim nihil proficientem angi nec habere ne spei quidem extremum et tamen commune solacium*,” and I’m calling the book Fellow Mortals and figure it’ll work out fine when hypothetical readers want to recommend it to their hypothetical friends.
Oh hey, I have an author site, too: AuthorDennisMahoney.com. Which is basically an old-timey splash page circa 1997 and seemed the best way to direct random visitors here to the blog, the book, or my contact info. Please LIKE it with the Facebook button when you have a chance.
My About page has a link to a giant high-res copy of my author photo, taken by John Oberlander of Oberlander Group, who’s a great guy and a talented photographer. We went for the serious-but-approachable, smiling-with-the-eyes expression, and I encourage you to download and deface my image in Photoshop. If anyone wishes to email their defacements, perhaps I’ll post a few for public enjoyment.
dmahoney at gmail dot com
* Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods 3.6.14: “Moreover, often it’s not even advantageous to know what’s going to happen; for it’s wretched for a man to be tortured [by foreknowledge] when he’s powerless to do anything about it, and to lack even the last consolation of hope, which is available to all.”