Ian Hocking is the author of three science fiction novels in the Saskia Brandt series: Déjà Vu (winner of the 2011 Red Adept Reviews Award for Science Fiction), Flashback, and The Amber Rooms. His new novel is the time travel thriller Red Star Falling. He is represented by Kneerim, Williams and Bloom. By day, he is an experimental psychologist. Like all British people, he lives in London, and probably does know that friend/relative of yours who also lives in London.

The Genesis of a Book Title

So I’m twenty feet up the climbing wall and my grip is weakening. I have just enough breath to shout, “I’m going to fall!” Then I’m tilting back. My feet slip from the holds and I’m falling. My arms dangle outwards and my legs are akimbo. I’m like an upside-down skydiver.

I had taken up climbing to help research a scene, and the star-like shape made by my body suggested a title: Red Star Falling. Not bad, I thought, as the very kind teenager holding the other end of my rope took some of the strain and I swung bodily into the climbing wall.

Everybody watching inhaled sharply.

The scene in Red Star Falling actually involves a fight on the north face of the Eiger, but I won’t be climbing that anytime soon.

Tricky thing, a title. As a self-published author, I get the final say, and it’s a big responsibility.

By which I mean: easy to screw up.

I named my first novel Déjà Vu after passing over a series of earnest and unspeakably poetic candidates, like ‘Dark poetry’ (“Ian, that just sounds like a poetry anthology; isn’t yours a science fiction novel?”) and ‘Forward to the Future’ (“Nazi propaganda poster featuring Michael J Fox. Next!”).

Second book, I called Flashback after a great video game I used to play in the 1990s. Plus, it featured a massive flashback. My third, The Amber Rooms – I honestly don’t remember when I came up with the title. Maybe I struck a wall shortly afterwards.

Red Star Falling (only 99¢!) is the first in a series featuring a time-travelling outfit known only as the Möbius Extemporal Agency (Meta). I’m in the market for the next title, and one of the worst ones I came up with was…Well, first, let me tell you that there is a German phrase that means ‘a person who is travelling on a train or bus without a ticket': der Schwarzfahrer, or ‘black rider/passenger’. You can see where I’m going with this. Having the German phrase in my head, I asked the Internet on Twitter (you know, where the Internet hangs out) what it would think about a thriller entitled ‘The Black Passenger’.

Eh, the Internet didn’t like it. And now I’m glad I found out before I published it. As I said, it’s easy to screw up a title. I’ve settled on a cool title for my next one, but you’ll have to wait to find out what it is.

In the meantime, I’ve got ten copies of Red Star Falling to give away to readers of the SF Signal blog. Only ebook format, I’m afraid, but you can name your format (mobi or epub) and I’m happy to sign ‘em.


WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY: Win an eBook Copy of RED STAR FALLING by Ian Hocking!

As Ian mentions above, SF Signal has 10 eBook copies of the his new novel, Red Star Falling to give away!

Here is what the book is about:

The mysterious organisation known only by its initials: Meta.

The missing 100,000 roubles of the 1907 Yerevan Square Expropriation and its smuggler, the Georgian outlaw known as Soso.

Meta Agent Singular, Saskia Brandt, on a mission from the future.

The north face of the Eiger—treacherous, unclimbed, enshadowed—waiting for the money, the outlaw, and the Agent Singular.

Agent Singular: Particular. Special. One-shot.

Here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:

  1. Send an email to contest at sfsignal dot com. (That’s us).
  2. In the subject line, enter: Red Star Falling
  3. In the body of the email, please specify the eBook format of choice: epub or mobi.
  4. Geographic restrictions: None! This giveaway is open to anyone with an email address.
  5. Only one entry per person please.
  6. The giveaway will end Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 (9:00 PM U.S Central time). The winners will be selected at random, notified, and announced shortly thereafter.

Good luck!

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