Joanna Smith Rakoff forced to rename her debut after discovering Colm Tóibín had picked her first choice - Brooklyn - as the title of his sixth novel
Rakoff's debut, Brooklyn, was sold to US publisher Scribner, part of Simon & Schuster, for a six-figure sum last year.
"It was rather difficult," said Rakoff in a telephone interview today. "I'd been thinking of it as Brooklyn for so long, it was hard to shake that." She was "shocked, rather than upset", she said, although "there was a dark period where there were tears and I felt unable to come up with a title".
She and her publisher and agent put their heads together to come up with a new title - one suggestion, she said, had been Life and Love in Brooklyn, but "everyone knew that was awful".
Then the new title, A Fortunate Age, came to her, and she "liked the double meaning of it". "They're living in a fortunate age, but they've also missed out on the fortunes of the age due to their own shortcomings."
The title of a book, Rakoff insists, "really, really does matter". "I wanted a perfect title, I didn't want a compromised title. And I don't feel I got that - I'm so happy I was forced to change it," she said. "I'm really grateful. If the Colm Tóibín thing hadn't happened would they have asked? I don't think so, but I'm so glad they did as I much prefer this title, it's so much more appropriate." Graham agreed, saying that all involved "love" the new title.
Rakoff hasn't, she added, read the new Tóibín, although she hopes to soon.