A rose by any other name …
Life After Life is the title of a novel by Kate Atkinson and one by Jill McCorkle both released within days of each other in 2013. Then, there’s A Person of Interest. Another duplicate or near duplicate. It’s the title of Susan Choi’s novel whereas Person of Interest is Theresa Schwegel’s work and the title of a TV series dating from 2011. Book titles are not subject to copywright protection and only under very limited circumstances can they be trademarked, which is why the duplications exist. The coincidences, or, perhaps, specific intent to use the title of another published work are a publisher’s nightmare. While added publicity may help, as an author, I prefer a title that sets my work apart over one that creates confusion.
In mid-2014, with my latest novel nearing completion under its working title, Wonderland, I discovered Joyce Carol Oates had published a novel titled Wonderland in 1971. For a moment, I thought it might not be such a bad thing to be confused with Joyce Carol Oates. I might even receive a five star review intended for her work. But, I wanted my own intriguing and distinct title. Back I went to the drawing (or thinking) board.
My story unfolds amid the amusements that lined Revere Beach in the 1920s and in one scene, the characters reminisce about the once astonishing Wonderland Park. As my fascination with the Park grew, I acquired a dozen or more vintage postcards featuring amusements and scenes of the Park. Four prompted the sub-titles for the four parts of the novel. I was determined to preserve the word “wonderland” in the title because of the story-critical setting and more subtle links between my protagonist Rose and the ingenue Alice of Alice in Wonderland. With a bit of trial and error, I worked with the words and my collection of cards until I arrived at Postcards from Wonderland.
I stumbled on other uses of the phrase “postcards from wonderland” during my search though thankfully none were book titles. One was a website, another a blog post, a third a rock band… and on and on. Intrigued, by the popularity of the phrase and the variety of uses, I followed the thread. I traveled down the rabbit hole, so to speak, and connected with other users of the phrase “postcard from wonderland.”
I met strangers who are now “virtual” acquaintances. And, better yet, I learned a few things about my own work (though I’ll save that for the last post in this journey through “wonderland” phrases).
BLOGGER: SincerelyKateRZ.Wordpress.Com / The Obsessive Blog of a Compulsive Pen Pal
Postcards from Wonderland is the title Kate of “SincerelyKate” chose for a post in September 2013. Kate is a blogger and member of postcrossing.com an online community of people who send postcards to each other in a random order. Kate blogs about her correspondence and pen pals and the postcards she sends and receives. (And just a few days ago, in another coincidence, I met a second postcrossing.com member at a writer’s seminar. It is truly a small, small world.)
Though members of postcrossing.com most often request a card from the sender’s home town or country, some seek cards on a favorite topic. When Kate joined in 2012, she stated a preference for Alice in Wonderland cards. By September 2013 she’d received numerous cards, including five on the subject of Alice in Wonderland. In October, a year after joining Kate had 100 cards, by March 2014, 150, and by October 2014, 200 in total. A good number of the cards bore Alice in Wonderland themes.
I read several testimonials from members of postcrossing.com. They’re avid “pen pals” and arm chair travelers who have connected with people across the globe through the mail. The site claims members send over half a million cards each month. Members comment that finding a postcard in the mail is the highlight of their day and that their membership allows them to satisfy a universal urge to communicate.
Now, as I conclude this post, one in a series on my fellow “postcards from wonderland” users, I have a postcard of my own to mail. The card bears the cover of my book with the title proudly displayed at the top. Postcards from Wonderland. The addressee? Kate of course. One more to add to her collection.
Visit Kate’s blog here: https://sincerelykaterz.wordpress.com/
Visit postcrossing.com here: https://www.postcrossing.com/
Next in the series: Postcards from Wonderland and Music