I’m not with Shakespeare on this one, a name is everything when it’s the first thing people see on the skinny spine of your book. The one thing in bold enough letters to stand out amongst it’s neighbours. A title can be the first hook that makes someone pull the book out of the shelf and open it to read on.
According to the Internet I seem to have two titles for my book. When it’s published my story of Sharon Collins and Essam Eid will go by the name The Devil in the Red Dress but that hasn’t always been the way. For most of it’s gestation it went by the working title Lying Eyes, a reference to the email address Sharon used to correspond with her online “hitman”. The Devil title came later once the book was more fully formed. It also comes from the screeds of emails sent between Sharon and the ridiculously chatty “Tony Luciano”.
That’s the title that will be on the cover of the book and is listed on my publishers website and on Amazon (I still get a kick out of being able to look myself up on Amazon but that’s just totally by the by). But the other title’s still out there. It’s still in the page title of the Amazon listing and there’s a load of Norwegian sites that are listing the old title (never thought there’d be a market for Irish true crime in Norway, you learn something new every day).
It’s a minor thing but it just brings home how much stuff lingers around in cyber space after you’ve finished with it. We live in a world now where all the detritus of our lives can find it’s way into the public arena via the web. Throw away comments and affiliations made in college now have a half life that lingers for anyone with access to a search engine to find.
In the course of writing the book I’ve been so aware of what can linger on line and what can be lost. The Internet has changed the practices of journalism to such an extent. We can do so much from the comfort of our desks without even having to pick up a phone these days. Sharon Collins would have done well to remember how much things linger in cyber space. The bulk of the case against her was the scraps left behind from a life online, emails recovered from the hard drives of computers she’d had access to, an email account that wasn’t nearly as anonymous as she had thought.
Following in her footsteps this summer I was able to look at web pages she had visited, that had been mentioned in her trial, as they had looked when she had visited them. Some of the websites are now long since defunct. Hitmanforhire.net itself was taken down once people started coming out of the woodwork with tales of Tony Luciano’s approaches. But thanks to the wonders of the Internet you can travel back in time and look as web pages as they used to look. OK so it’s not magic, but it’s still reasonably cool, except when the thing hanging around is a discarded title. Ah well, as long as Devil in the Red Dress makes it’s own impression…