Do you think Mike Brady ever forgot Jan Brady's name? There were five other kids running around the house, after all, and the guy was only human. He'd be like, "Who broke your mother's favorite vase, Janet?" And she'd be all "Janet? OH! This would never happen to Marcia!" before she ran up that funky staircase crying.*
Ol' Mike actually had it easy compared to me. He only had six children to keep straight. O.K. -- seven once that creepy cousin Oliver started hanging around. (You don't think cousin Oliver was creepy? Check this out. He was actually a grown man in disguise -- one who didn't seem to be wearing any clothes!) As of this week, I've got 14 offspring to remember. And yes: I've started forgetting some of the names.
To be clear, I don't actually have 14 children. I love my two kids to death, but more than two would have been the death of me.
Where I've hit double digits is in my literary offspring. My fourteenth traditionally published book is out now -- and it's the one that's been getting the Jan/Janet treatment.
There was a precedent for my forgetfulness. All my "Nick and Tesla" middle-grade mysteries have subtitles that are approximately as long as the average chapter, so I can never remember them. I mean, come on -- the fifth book in the series is called Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular: A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself!. That's practically a soliloquy.
My newest novel -- the sequel to last year's tarot-themed mystery The White Magic Five & Dime -- has a title that's a mere three words long: Fool Me Once. Yet still I keep getting it wrong. In my head, it will always be Fools Rush In. That's the title I was thinking of when the book was being planned, and thematically I think it fits the story better.
In the end, however, "thematically" meant bupkis because there were already 863 books called Fools Rush In. So the name was switched to Fool Me Once, which has only been used 547 times. C'est la publishing.
Fortunately, this rose by any other name still seems to smell as sweet. Which is a convoluted way of saying name shmame -- people like the book.
"...delightfully quirky...," says Kirkus.
"...winning...," says Publishers Weekly.
"...amiable...readers who adore the women detectives of Dorothy Cannell and Maggie King will be pleased by this quirky series," says Library Journal.
"Steve Hockensmith has done it again...VERY highly recommended," says the nice lady on Amazon who already gave the book five stars.
So do me a favor, guys: If I recommend that you pick up my new novel Fools Rush In, just know that I'm actually referring to the delightfully quirky, winning, amiable and very highly recommended Fool Me Once...and maybe think about buying it...?
*Writing this blog post, I had to face the fact that Brady Bunch references are something one can't safely make anymore. Will everyone know who Mike and Jan Brady are? Will they know who cousin Oliver is? Will they understand what I'm talking about when I mention "that funky staircase"? Perhaps not. Whether this is a sad development or not most likely depends on your age and your susceptibility to nostalgia. As a professional communicator, I should stop assuming readers know anything about a nearly 50-year-old sitcom. But as a Gen Xer in good standing, I couldn't resist taking the Bradys for one last spin around the pop culture block.