I decided over the weekend to rename my recently completed novel The Inventor’s Daughter. The original title was Erin Isabelle and the Wicked Uncle, which gave rise to questions regarding the uncle’s variety of wickedness. I consequently renamed the story Erin Isabelle and the Bandit Uncle since that accurately described the aforementioned’s profession.
Before the manuscript was properly polished, a very generous and helpful contact at Random House suggested the title might be a bit long. But as I worked through the manuscript, I couldn’t think of anything better. And I was rather attached, as people are, to their own ideas.
It was not until I designed the blog for the series (ErinIsabelle.wordpress.com), that a solution was forced upon me by a gaping text box asking me what my blog was about. I responded in a moment of clarity. In that instant it seemed obvious that the series was about the plight of … the inventor’s daughter.
The phrase naturally brought to mind a singularly perfect story and title: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” which in three words describes not only the profession of the main character, but his predicament as well. How does a person audacious enough to take on such an position come to equal or best his mentor?
Are not inventors the sorcerers of the modern world? In the ancient world where few were educated, the word sorcererwas often infused with an air of the malevolence of a tyrant. People then and now were naturally suspicious of that which they do not understand. In our more democratic where education is relatively plentiful, we defuse our sorcerer characters with humor. The word “inventor” connotes abstract, well-meaning curiosities dislocated from the world of business and money. But their intellectual intensity and the purity of their curiosity also make them dangerous. Witness Dr. Felix Hoenikker, Kurt Vonnegut’s character in Cat’s Cradle who in an idle moment creates the dreaded ice-nine which could crystallize all of the water in the world.
What then would the life of inventor’s daughter be like – one who has not only one such parent, but two? Were she like them, probably not much but add to the excitement and danger. But what if she was an intelligent, but normal girl named Erin Isabelle Becker-Spotsworth? Well, you’ll just have to read the story to find out.
A slim note about the sources of this story. My sister Lalu, whose name I use in the story, read me delightful parables of wickedness when I was very young. Those tales are the origins of the noir characters of Wicked Uncle Charles and the Men With Bulldog tattoos who run through the manuscript. Secondly, our mother was a poet, painter, sculptor, etc. who stood just a little bit off third base. To all who knew her well, she was a wonderful woman who, because of her intense imagination, bore careful watching on occassion. Living and especially travelling with her when I was a child was always … interesting, and is to be the source of another book I intend to write someday.