I’m about halfway finished with the first draft of a new book that for a long time I called the Coma Book. It has little to do with comas, but that’s beside the point. It lacked a name, and as I mulled over characters and outlined the story, I had to call it something.
Most of the time, I know the title of a book right out of the chute, as if there’s no question or choice in the decision. Other times, a name prefers a game of hide-and-seek, making me wait for the big AHA moment. “So there you are,” I might say with delight, as if discovering a long lost sock behind the dryer or a two-year-old under the sink.
The erstwhile named Coma Book is about dreams, stories, and fantasies overlapping with ordinary life. The shifting border becomes increasingly permeable, with confusing and frightening results. One character, an old sorceress, traverses the multiple layers of existence with graceful clarity by touching her crystal ball.
Well, ugh. I hate crystal balls in general. Hokey, low-budget props for the unimaginative.
But…not long ago, at a friend’s house, I encountered a particular chunk of quartz. Avid rock-collectors, she and her husband have hundreds from all over the world. Their house looks like a quarry. Anyway, the rock of interest was a clear crystal with bronze, gold, and smoke-colored inclusions. When sunlight hit the inclusions, the rock seemed to burn on the inside. As it turned, it mutated, changing its internal scenery. I saw alien galaxies, rotating nebulae of firelit stars and spinning planets.
“What is this?” I asked, mouth agape.
“Some call it a dream crystal,” my friend replied. “I’ve also heard it called a sorcerer’s garden.”