The otherworldly Brambleman started out with a different title and as a much different story than the one I ended up publishing. There were some similarities, however: It was set in Atlanta, and the protagonist’s name was Charlie Sherman, same as now. And his mother was named Evangeline. That’s about as far as the similarities go.
Originally, I was going to call my novel Charlie’s Prayer, but the story mutated, growing stranger and stranger, and became something else entirely—not nearly so domesticated. Ask anyone who’s read it: They’ll tell you it’s a wild ride. (Other working titles were Shakerag and Shooting the Mule.)
I didn’t settle on a title until I’d been working on the book for a year or two. Not long after I moved with my family to our present home, a friend of my daughter’s came to visit. She had freckles and curly dark hair, and she lived on Thornbriar–which sounded like an enchanted place, the way she said it, through missing teeth. I fell in love with the delightfully repetitive name that sounds like a warning and immediately moved Charlie there. When you read the book, you’ll understand. So now at least you know where Thornbriar Press gets its name.
And it is just a short step from being on Thornbriar to coming up with the present-day title.
It just so happens that my favorite Mother Goose rhyme is the Bramble-Bush one. I used to sing it at night to my children. I don’t claim to be normal. Anyway, here it is:
There was a man in our town,
and he was wondrous wise;
He jumped into a bramble-bush,
and scratched out both his eyes.
But when he saw his eyes were out,
with all his might and main,
He jumped into another bush,
and scratched them in again.
Well, as it turns out, Charlie Sherman is that kind of guy—all brambly, and jumping into things. Voila, I think.
If you want to see some history and variations on the original nursery rhyme Bramble-man, click here. And here’s a more modern artist’s horrific take on what Brambleman looks like. Cool, though, in a dark way.
And if you’d like to know the story behind Brambleman‘s cover, click here.
Brambleman is on sale now, by the way. Kindle and Nook versions are only $6.99. That’s $2.00 the regular price. Grab the eBook today! Best price on the paperback is here.
Brambleman is the winner of the IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Award for popular fiction. You can read more about it here.
(Post originally published June 3, 2013)
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