On all the marketing up to and including the launch of the Book "Pikihuia 12" my story was called "Till we Kissed" - In the Book it is called  "The eldest girl" and this is why...

When I was a kid I picked up a copy of a book called "A Canterbury Tale". Now imagine my surprise when it was not the series of bawdy rambunctious stories by Chaucer but a modern story of a voyeuristic grown man, who would spy on a pubescent couple, who would sneak down to the shed in the bottom of his garden, to "cuddle" and do a myriad other things.   I was really shocked, I was eleven, so I had every right to be shocked. 
 But I was also amazed that two books 'The Canterbury Tales' and 'A canterbury Tale' could have such similar titles.

So I delved into the law of Titles, Trademarks and Copyright

The  'Titles' of books, songs, plays, movies etc can not be copy-righted but they can be Trademarked if the title has an overwhelming connection with the Artist.
For example; you could use the title "Forbidden Surrender" as it is a good title for a Romance Genre book even though it was used by Carol Mortimer as it is not connected in any way with her name, it is one of hundreds of books she's written most of which have similar non specific but emotionally inflaming names.
You could NOT write a book called "Harry Potter and the(insert thing)' because that name is associated J K Rowling, same as 'Carrie' has an indelible connection with Stephen King and "The Godfather" has one too Murio Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola.

Music and me

I am not a music person, I like music, but my favourite sound is silence.  I will sit in a dark room, wearing earplugs, staring at a word processor screen and the only sound I hear are the squelches and groans of my own body and the thoughts in my head.  
I am and have always been an introvert, I hate sudden noises and loudness is an anathema to me.  I am basically frightened by 80% of the world.  Unless I can dance to it or "ahem" with it in the background, I don't get obsessed by any music, (I lost that after David Cassidy and the Bay City Rollers)
Till we kissed

I wrote the book "till we kissed" with the song 'Till we Kissed" by Ray Columbus and the Invaders on loop for six months.  I shit you not.  I was obsessed by that song and the feelings of nostalgia it evoked.  It allowed me to write Tom's story, which begins in the sixties when he sails to New Zealand as a ten pound pom.  I wrote a parallel story of Tom in the past and Tom as an old man when the life he left behind in England catches up with him, throwing the whanau he created into turmoil.
When it came to the time to think about publishing "Till we kissed" I had no idea if I could use the title for of a song for the book, so I thought hey, contact Ray Columbus and ask.  
So in 2013 I set out to contact Mr Columbus.  It took me over a year to find him.
Well long story short was I did contact Mr Columbus and he told me about how he had done the arrangement for the song which is a cover (I had no clue) and was originally "Where Have You Been (All My Life)" and was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and released by Arthur Alexander, Gene Vincent, The Guess Who and others...until it was finally the biggest hit, number 1, Aussi and NZ,  twice, with Ray Columbus and the Invaders (click to see the video) 
Mr Columbus was gracious and lovely.  He told me all about arranging the orchestration of the song.  He didn't really say whether we could use the name title or not. ( At that time I also had thoughts of re-releasing a version sung by my niece, but as I'm not in the musical industry I had no clue how all that works.)
His wife however emailed me that she preferred I didn't use the song title, so, a bit gutted, but understanding what she wanted completely I moved on to another book. and "Till we kissed' ended up gathering digital dust in a data stick while I got on with being a writer.


Just a little Peeve - The announcer pronounced
 my name wrong...feck sakes grrrr...It is Giles not Gillies ffs
My brother said "Change back to your maiden name
...no one gets McGregor wrong..."


Sending the book excerpt to Pikihuia was something I did at 2 in the morning after a chocolate biscuit and ten cup of tea binge.  I didn't even edit it.  I cut and pasted the first three chapters of the book into a doc,  still titled "Till we Kissed" and submitted it, along with a half a dozen short stories I'd written for an anthology I planned to release next year called "A bag of Stones"
So when I found out I was a finalist I was shocked, and Id forgotten all about the "title" debacle until I had to sign the contract when I was like "SHIT" what if I get sued.  Thus, the mad scramble to get the name changed before the book went out and the fact the old name was on all the printed publicity for the event.

What did I learn

I learned that every vaguely interesting anomalous mish mash of a few words thrown together is probably already the name of a song.  
I also learned that it is OKAY to use any title from a book or a song as long as it is not immediately recognised as belonging to an artist or groups of artists.  Which is usually why you want to use it in the first place.  'Till we Kissed" is immediately recognised and associated with Ray Columbus and the Invaders, so it is definitely a trade mark.

More importantly I learned 

One day you may be on the phone to an editor madly trying to pull a brand new title out of your arse in the five minutes before the book goes to print.  It is a nightmare.  My poetic abilities dried up to a dust bowl so...here is some advice; always:
  • Have at least five alternate book titles to everything you write and know that somewhere, someone else with think that is their original idea.
  • Keep EVERYTHING you write, as one day you may go back to it, and that includes all the material you edit out of your books.  They are your own words. You own them.  
  • If you do get sued you have the backup to be able to show whoever it is the journey it took you to get to that title. 

Most-most-most Important

I learned that competitions are fun but they have nothing to do with the art of writing.  Everything is subjective.  Someone will like something you write and someone won't.  That's the name of the game.  The only person who has to like what you have written is you.

Lots of love
Loser of competitions but winner in life