Bozo Nightmares: The Clay Guide to Picking Titles.
Hi everyone. For those of you who have no idea who I am, I am J.G. Clay, a new (ish) horror writer just off the blocks and indulging in a little guest blogging. Pleased to meet you all and a huge thank you to Fang-tastic Books.
Now, let’s get down to it. I have a book out at the moment. It’s called ‘Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor’. I like to think that the title’s quite snazzy; evocative, memorable, unique, distinctive and so on. I like the title. Believe me when I say that it’s far better than the one I originally had in mind – ‘Bozo Nightmares’. Not as evocative, most definitely not as snazzy, but in its defence, quite memorable. I took it from a line in a well- known (and quite brilliant) song from the multi-talented Beck. At the time, I was struggling to come up with a title for the little book I was about to self-publish and I seized on the phrase with the foamy mouthed abandon of a Pit Bull. I loved it. For all of two days, anyway. Then, I started imagining being interviewed and people asking me the title of my book. The more I envisioned saying ‘Bozo Nightmares’, the more I became convinced that, far from being cool and edgy, it was actually pretty stupid. Needless to say, I ditched that, went off in search of a pint and a title that I could actually say out loud without blushing or breaking into gales of hysterical laughter.
Thinking back to that time, I’ve realised that I’ve developed three methods of titling of my work. In the interests of helping my fellow authors out, I’d like to share those methods. They might work for you, they might not. Give ‘em a bash. You have nothing to lose.
1. Song Titles.
A tried and tested method by yours truly. You can either use the title wholesale or tweak it for your own purposes. For instance, ‘On The Beach’, the very first proper Tale of Blood and Sulphur is taken from the B-Side of New Order’s finest single ‘Blue Monday’, (an instrumental version of the A-Side, basically). Given that the vast majority of the story happens to take place on a beach, it was a logical choice. And it works. This same method has been (or will be) used for one of my planned novels next year entitled ‘Fools Gold’. Not only is that the title of my most favourite song by my most favourite band, The Stone Roses, it also fits the narrative – greed, things that look valuable but aren’t, selling people out. It’ll fit nicely. Better than ‘Bozo Nightmares’ would anyway.
This is actually a fun method. Just string together words that you think might fit and, bingo, you have a title. ‘Whatever Happened To Pete The Neat?’ and ‘Due To a Lack of Interest, The Apocalypse Will Not Be Televised’ are both titles that came from this freestyling method. Interestingly, these titles led to the stories, a double whammy of creativity. Again, I shudder to think what would have happened if I had ended with ‘Bozo Nightmares’.
The main method I use for title picking. Panic often leads to the Brain of Clay speeding up and throwing out all sorts of nonsense. Words are spewed out and glued together to make up a phrase that makes sense. This method is a bit like Method #2 on crack. ‘Tales of Blood and Sulphur’ was spawned in this fashion. I had about a week to publication and no title. Except for ‘Bozo Nightmares’, of course. Neurons began a rapid fire sequence of gibberish that eventually threw up two words – ‘Tales of….’ A start but not a great one. ‘Tales of’ what? Panic kicked in again like a manic ‘Wheel of Fortune’ stopping on….Blood. Great but still not right. ‘Tales of Blood’ sounded a bit hackneyed. I needed something more. I have no idea how the ‘Sulphur’ bit came about. I can’t remember. Maybe I was so blinded by panic that it didn’t register. But the upshot is that I had a title, and it wasn’t ‘Bozo Nightmares’.
So there you have it. My three main methods of getting that eye catching title. There are more, but I don’t want to bore you any further. Also, to my mind anyway, the story is more important. Nail the story and the title will soon follow. If all else fails and the title worries you that much, ask a friend or another author. But whatever you do, don’t use ‘Bozo Nightmares’. I may still have need of that one day.
Tales of Blood and Sulphur:
Tales of Blood and Sulphur
Date of Publication: 24th July, 2015
Number of pages: 212
Word Count: 77,000 words approx.
Cover Artist: Ashley Ruggirello
Eleven Tales steeped in Blood and reeking of Sulphur
J.G Clay takes you on a journey through the voids of Reality and into dark places where demons, mutants and inter-dimensional creatures taunt, taint and corrupt Humanity. Survival is not guaranteed, sanity is not assured and death lurks in every corner. These are the Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor; eleven twisted tales of terror and mayhem..... There are cracks in the skin of Reality.
Some are microscopic, others are as wide as a four-lane motorway. As the fault lines increase and widen, the door to our world shines like a beacon in the darkness, a warm and inviting sight to others beyond our understanding. When They cross over into our realm, The Tales begin...... A gambler taking one last desperate throw of the dice. A struggling writer making an unholy alliance. An eternal being fighting to stay alive in the financial capital of India. A man burdened with a terrible town secret. The Law Enforcers who must never cry. The End of Days live and direct from the rural heartland of England.
The blood is warm, the sulphur is burning, the tales will be told, the Apocalypse Minor is imminent!
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‘Above them, the azure of the sky was torn by a crack. It was difficult to accurately measure how large the hole was. The more the reporter concentrated on it, the more it seemed to shift and blur as if it knew that the men below were observing and measuring it. It seemed to flatten, then expand and then flatten again, growing wider with every expansion. Thin filaments of stuff poked through the hole, questing and searching the space around it before disappearing back.
It’s tasting the air. The thought startled him. It wasn’t alive whatever it was. Strange, certainly. Unexpected? Most definitely. But not alive. This was one for the scientists. He would make his report, get Murray to air it, and leave it with people far more qualified and clever than he. Reporting from the Twilight Zone wasn’t in his remit, at all.
As he watched, the crack opened up, wider this time.
Silence. It was total, suffocating.
Even the birds had stopped singing.
The hairs on J.D’s neck raised in stiff salute as the atmosphere became heavy with expectation.
He heard the men shuffling nervously behind him. His annoyance grew as tried to mask his own fear. It was time to take control of this situation. Wasn’t that what Quigley would do?
He turned, an angry look on his face.
“What the fuck’s the matter with—”
A low groaning stopped him dead. It boomed from the sky, echoing around them. Mac’s eyes widened, Mullen became pale. Earl raised a quizzical eyebrow but that was the extent of his response. He wasn’t an emotional sort. He was too stoned anyway.
The groaning sound continued for a moment before tailing off into an ear splitting keening. J.D. clapped his hands to his ears as the pitch became too intense to bear. It was no use. The sound seeped through his hands as if they were not there. Pain spiked behind his eyes. He screamed, sinking to his knees. The pitch became higher, rattling the filling in his molars. He felt a warm gush as the blood vessels in his nose let go. The world canted sideways, then became dark. He keeled over.
“Wake up, man, wake up.”
He groaned, pushing away the insistent hands that kept shoving and shaking him.
“No school today, mum. It’s a holiday.” He mumbled incoherently as hands dragged him up to a sitting position.
“J.D, shape up, man.”
Annoyed, the reporter lashed out groggily. A hand smashed his cheek, whipping his head to the side. Clarity returned to him, the slap stinging his face. He looked around. Sickening pain lanced his head, reaching a crescendo before subsiding into a low level buzz. His vision clearing, he noticed a peculiar tint to the daylight. The world looked greener than before.
Have I had a stroke or something?
He moved his legs and arms and looked up. Mac crouched in front of him, his face pale, almost beige. His lips and chin were coated with crimson, trails of blood leading from his nose. They all had nosebleeds, it seemed. Mac’s eyes were large, agitated and lined with red.
“Thank fuck you’re awake. Look man, we’ve gotta get the fuck out of here. That thing’s got even bigger.” His voice was panicky, the words tumbling out in a rush.
Irritated and groggy, J.D. pushed him away and struggled to his feet. His senses cleared and returned, but the green tint to the daylight remained. Mac spun him around, pointing back to the strange portal.
“Look at that. You can’t tell me that’s normal.”
J.D. looked up.
What the ever-living fuck is going on here? His mouth dropped open at the sight above them.
The crack had increased in size and become rounder, yet jagged. A rotten, emerald light spilled from the hole in the sky. He felt relieved. He wasn’t having a stroke. The relief evaporated. There were sounds coming from the hole, slithering squelching sounds. He gulped, turning to the others. Earl had his boom mike raised, headphones on, his face blank as he recorded. Mac looked terrified, as did the farmer. J.D. stepped up to him, his face within kissing distance. He jerked a thumb toward the hole.
“That noise! Is that what you heard last night?” Mullen merely nodded, his face ashen, his lips moving in a soundless incantation. The man was very close to losing his mind. The squelching became a fraction louder. The reporter considered his options. This was beyond the scope of any of them. Maybe it was better to let the authorities take care of it. Or maybe it was the biggest chance ever gifted to a struggling, disrespected, low-level reporter. The idea appealed. This could be the event that would propel him past his smug rival and his horrid boss.
He looked over at Mac. “Have you called it in?”
Mac shook his head.
The darker skinned man snorted in disbelief, gesturing at the green tear. “Have you fucking seen what’s going on? What’s the point of calling it in to Murray? I called the police.” Mac really must have been terrified. He had no love for the boys in blue.
“What did they say?”
The camera man shrugged. “That they were aware of the situation and that the army was on their way. People can see the light as far away as Leicester, Kettering, even Brum. When I told them about the other stuff, the guy on the phone said, and I quote, “what stuff?’”
J.D. turned this over in his mind. They were at the epicentre of this, able to see clearly what others at a distance could not. The footage shot would be pure gold.’
About the Author:
J.G Clay was born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire on Halloween night, 1973. By sheer coincidence, it was the night of the full moon. The man was tailor made for the Horror Genre. A life-long horror and science fiction fan, he has written for his own amusement since his teenage years, taking time off to do the usual things that adolescent boys do and growing up disgracefully. Now in his forties, he has returned to his passion for the dark, the weird and the twisted. Tales of Blood and Sulphur is his first foray into the world of the Author but rest assured, there are plenty more stories to come. The man has a plan and he is out to scare the world, the solar system and beyond. Off duty, he has a passion for music, films and Birmingham City FC. He can also hold down a half decent bassline. J.G lives with his wife and step-daughter in Rothwell, Northamptonshire – the heart of the English countryside, an idyllic setting but a strange one to find a Nightmare Child of Halloween.