Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Title Game + the Millionaire Game

Thanks to all of you who commented upon Elizabeth Bunce's and my quest to retitle her novel. After letting the ideas percolate for a few days, Elizabeth and I made a list of all the titles, then our personal favorites, and then new possibilities suggested by the personal favorites; and then we got on the phone to talk over these lists. And in the midst of our conversation, Elizabeth said something that made us both go "Ooh!":

A Curse Dark as Gold

We liked it for the fairy-tale sound ("hair as red as blood," "lips white as snow," "a curse dark as gold" -- I'm mixing my fairy tales, but nonetheless); the intrigue of the admittedly contradictory combination of "dark" and "gold"; the narrative element and hint of threat supplied by "curse" versus the merely descriptive "dark as gold"; and the fact that it used all our key words. We are still living with it and thinking about it; the book won't be published until Spring 2008, so we have plenty of time to change our minds. But it was the first of the many (many) titles we tried that gave us that lovely shiver of frisson, so it shall be our title for the time being. Thanks to you all for helping us brainstorm!

Also, as is certainly evident from this blog, I love talking about writing and editing and the publication process, and I'm always fascinated by stories of the book behind the book and the brain behind the book -- the anatomy of the book, perhaps, the assemblage of parts and mind and spirit that makes a novel live. So I suggested to Elizabeth that she might talk a little about her process over on her LJ, and she's already started with an account of the inspiration for A Curse Dark as Gold. Worth checking out!


Yesterday I took the afternoon off work and went up to the ABC studios on West 67th Street to try out for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" The show cannily requires you to sit through the taping of two episodes before you take the test, so I can report that Meredith Vieira seems as nice in person as she is onscreen; the lights and music are just as portentous and hilarious in the studio as they are when you watch; and that it was an enjoyable and interesting afternoon of trivia and seeing the backstage workings of a TV show. I was seated in the first row, directly behind the contestant, so if you watch the episode on March 8, you can see my hands shifting in the background. (I also look deeply serious as I enter my answer during an "Ask the Audience" lifeline.) After the tapings were over, they herded us into the ABC employee cafeteria to sit down for the written thirty-question multiple-choice test. I was on "Jeopardy!" a very very long time ago (I placed last in my show, and won tickets to "The Lion King"), so I approached the test with some confidence.

And -- I flunked! Big-time! Well, I don't know how big-time, but I wasn't one of the people called to interview with the producers (as perhaps eight of the sixty or so people in the room were). I was smarter when I was younger, dammit, or at least I knew more useless trivia then. Ah well. If I can't make my million off a game show, I guess it's back to a life of crime.


  1. Oh, I like that title! :D

    Ah, useless trivia . . . it seems that the older we get, the need for brain space requires us to overwrite trivial things with those more vital.

    Such a shame that we can't install more memory in our internal computers like we can in our external ones.

    Still, kudos to you for trying!

  2. What were some of the questions?

  3. You were on Jeopardy?!

    We'll see you on TV entering your answer?!

    How about Deal or No Deal? Or is that filmed in CA? Or that inventor show. I bet you'd be able to invent something.

  4. I am shocked...

    I was planning to be your "Phone a Friend" reference person for questions on farming, governmental operations, and latest fashion trends.

    Uncle John

  5. A Curse Dark as Gold


    I would buy it!

  6. We think JEOPARDY is the better show, (asks tougher and better questions) and seems as though it would be pickier in testing contestants. When were you on? Can you tell us more about the experience? (We know someone who went to Philly to try out this summer and is currently on the 'call list' for 12 mos.).

    We get annoyed watching contestants 'ask the audience' about easy questions on MILLIONAIRE. A few nights ago, one tired young man who had flown all night from CA to be on the show and said he didn't sleep got the $100. question wrong. He knew it as soon as he said it, but it was still pretty bad.

    JEOPARDY rules the trivia game show world.

  7. You know, what, "A Curse as Dark as Gold" works a lot better for me than just "A Curse Dark as Gold". To me the repetition of "as" immediately conjures up that fairytale connection in my mind, whereas without the first "as", it just seems odd to me somehow.

    Fortunately, I am just one potential reader. :)

  8. I bet there are other variables at work on the Millionaire show besides the how smart/fast you are angle.

    BTW, your Read Roger link isn't working.

  9. "A Curse Dark as Gold" Gave me shivers. So fine!


  10. I like the title! Very nice.

    I tried out for the college version of MILLIONAIRE many moons ago and I flunked big time, too, so now at least I know I'm in good company! :)

  11. I feel a bizarre sense of quiz-bowl honor that forbids me from posting any of the WWTBAM? test questions, sorry. But I will say they covered everything from reality-show hosts to the history of science, so I was impressed by their range.

    My "Jeopardy!" episode aired in July 2000. I still have never watched it.

    And thanks, Melinda -- I fixed the link!