What’s in a name?

Two stories about crazy coincidences and the titles of my projects.

A few years ago I was in Brisbane doing research for my novel Breathe whilst ostensibly on holidays. What better thing to do whilst on holidays but browse a bookstore? During my familiar circuit of favourite sections, I came across this gigantic blue sign for An Important New Book. The new book was Tim Winton’s Breath. The blood drained from my face. In my fanciful moments I dreamed of being published and my books being found in the W part of Australian Fiction, right next to Tim Winton. But now he had a book out with a name dangerously close to mine. And he had a last name close to mine. The most salient difference was that he was published and famous, and I was just some guy standing in front of a sign in a bookstore, feeling outraged.

I got over it in time. This lucky coincidence could work to my advantage with halo effect. And when you get down to it, it didn’t matter that there was a near coincidence of book titles. I liked mine better and it meant something strong to the book. That extra “e” meant everything to me and I was keeping the title. No-one could legitimately blame me for trying to steal Tim Winton’s thunder.

The Gods might be trying to say something though.

I was browsing my blog feeds this morning, idly reading Rock Paper Shotgun’s list of free-to-play MMOs. And what did I find? A beta MMORPG called Kung Fu Legend. Again, a single letter off the title of my work-in-progress (Kung Fu Legends). Again, I think my title is better [1. Kung Fu Legend? Just the one? On an MMO? Might be a Chinese-to-English translation error, though.]. The URL for my site-to-be for my game-to-be was suboptimal (http://www.kungfulegends-game.com) mostly because some guys had nabbed it first for their kung fu video site. And this was all long after I realised there was a famous game from the 80s called Kung Fu Master.

This is annoying, but not too bad. I haven’t lost anything except a suboptimal domain name and a small emotional investment. I do, however, have a backup plan. Lickety split I registered my backup name: Kung Fu Chronicles. It’s got a nice sound to it, hasn’t really been used before (except as the subtitle of some kids books) and it better matches the intent of my game. Way back in the Stone Age when I came up with the original idea, it was all about becoming Kung Fu Masters (or Legends). But now that it’s about creating your own serial kung-fu story, I think it works better. Let me know what you think at the end of this post.

I’m half-expecting another one of my projects to be afflicted with this curse of fate. What next? The Days After? I dare them to try that on my PhD.

I guess I’ve learnt three things from this whole wacky set of coincidences:

  1. Finish projects so you can call dibs first.
  2. Names aren’t too important, so don’t have a heart attack if there’s a collision.
  3. Never browse anything ever again, lest I come across something else.

Let me know if you’ve ever had a dumb coincidence of fate like this. I’d also love feedback on the new name:

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