Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Title, Title, Who Has a Title?

I am deep into work on my next (and final) novel in The Black Douglas Trilogy. It isn't coming easy. I hadn't researched the years after the Battle of Bannockburn as deeply as I had the years before and I needed some additional books. I am still waiting for the part of Bower's  Scotichronicon that covers from 1320 to 1360 and the cost made me cry. But I have most of what I need and am just looking for bits and pieces I may have missed. Of course, much of it is open to question and a lot of details are lost in the shroud of history. All the more fun for me.

I am still wrestling with a big question. Who WAS the mother of James Douglas's bastard son, later  known as Archibald the Grim or Black Archibald? Admittedly it could have been anyone, including the local milkmaid, but the fact that Archibald grew up in the King's household is rather mysterious. Even King Robert's illegitimate children were not normally a part of the royal household. And Archibald eventually became the 3rd Earl of Douglas. A bastard becoming powerful and inheriting was not unknown in 14th century Scotland, but was a long way from the norm. This leads me to speculate that the mother had some power in addition to his being Douglas's son. But who would she have been?

Another big question is the title. I am wavering on choosing "The Hammer of England" in spite of some people saying that it sounds as though he was English. TheOldNat suggested Mell of England since I've been known to sneak in a word or two of Scots. Of course, hardly anyone would know what the title meant (it means a wooden mallet in Scots) but that might not be a big issue. Or it might be.

I'm open to suggestion on both questions. 

Anyway, I am researching and writing away at it. The artist is working on art for the cover and I have a cover designer ready to design the cover. My editor is ready. Unless something really unexpected happens the final book in The Black Douglas Trilogy will be out early next year.


Conan the Librarian™ said...

What about a direct translation?

"malleus angulorum" should cover all the angles...

J. R. Tomlin said...

That would cover it. I use occasional Latin in the novels, so... it's a possibility. :)


Conan the Librarian™ said...

I hope you got the pun...

Seriously, as he was kent as the Black Douglas by his enemies; why not just "The Guid Sir James"?

There was also a lullaby:

Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye. Hush ye, hush ye, dinnae fret ye. The Black Douglas shallnae get ye.

Perhaps "He shall no get ye"?

Then his exploits in Spain with the Bruces' Heart; there is a thought that Alfonso, may have contrived James being cut off and killed, him being a cousin of Edward.
Not sure on that, it was probably later propaganda.

Best till last though:

"Follow thee or die"

Any help?

J. R. Tomlin said...

No, I'm afraid the pun went right over my head until you pointed it out. LOL

I'm way serious about this title business. I am well acquainted with the lullaby. I assume you know the story (did Barbour tell it or was it one of the later tales I don't recall without checking) that he climbed a wall to find a woman singing it to her baby. Putting a hand on her shoulder, he told her she shouldn't be too sure (paraphrase) and had his men guard her while they took the castle.

I have always suspected there might have been perfidy in Sir James's death. But then I am none too sure that Thomas Randolph wasn't poisoned as his contemporaries thought but modern historians dismiss.

Much of the last novel follows James's many attacks on England which is why The Hammer of England occurred to me. The fact that it follows him after Bannockburn at the height of his powers--but not necessarily the easiest in his personal life--is something I'd like the title to hint at. I particularly love his attack on the English camp when he "chased the tyrant in his shirt" to quote the Corries.

And then I just have to figure out who Archibald's mother was with absolutely no real hint in the records. ;-)

J. R. Tomlin said...

By the way, any suggestions help. Even if I don't use one, it might spur me to think of a new idea. Having gotten a title stuck in my head, I can't seem to come up with alternative ideas. "Follow ye or die" is a good quote. I'll give that one some thought. It might work.