How The Nightcrawlers Became The Dreamcatchers

While writing is a freeing and creative process, publishing brings one back down to the realities of society.

Some of you may be wondering what the hold up is with The Nightcrawlers. The good news is that edits have been finalized and I’ll have more information (cover, new release date) to share with you soon. The bad – maybe bad – not sure now news is that it is no longer called The Nightcrawlers.

This is because of things like trademarks and intellectual property rights, which matter a lot in the world of publishing. Nightcrawler, or “the Incredible Nightcrawler” is already a character in the popular Marvel X-Men comic and movie series. While my Nightcrawler and Marvel’s differ on many levels (color, species, abilities, appearance), there was enough overlap to raise serious legal fears from Disney.

Now some of you may be saying: “But Colin, if your Nightcrawler is different then why are you afraid of Disney? You’d win the lawsuit!”

You’d be wrong.

Being right does not always equal victory in court. The fact is that resources matter and a company like Disney has far greater resources than a new publishing firm like Pen Name. Lawyer fees that would quickly add up for Pen Name would be nothing to Disney – allowing the large company to drag out the case until the publishing house could no longer keep up.

Titles are also changed to avoid confusion. For instance, The Last Airbender removed the Avatar in response to James Cameron’s recent film. They also may have done this to foreshadow exactly how much of the soul of the show would be missing from the movie.

To avoid this, Nightcrawlers had to go. Which… was tough. Writers out there will know the odd relationship that forms between an author and their character. When writing is done well, characters come to life with their own voices and personalities – and names. I have been calling Nightcrawler, well – Nightcrawler, since I was six.

It has been a challenge for me to get used to his new name. Dreamcatcher is Nightcrawler… but the word still feels like a mask. In writing, I had full control. Now publishing has adopted my creation and christened him with a new identity. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy that The Dreamcatchers survived this bump on its path to publication, but I will take this moment to mourn the loss of the original vision.

Okay… so how did Nightcrawler become Dreamcatcher?

In renaming Nightcrawler, I knew the new name had to fit into the larger world of the story. For instance, I could not simply rename Nightcrawler but leave the book called The Nightcrawlers – it would not make sense with the written mythology (you’ll see what I mean once you’ve read the book). So Nightcrawler’s name change meant a book title change.

Okay… but I needed to keep the same connotations.  I needed a title that reflected the nocturnal, subconscious, and the fantastical – and a name that hadn’t already been claimed by Marvel or DC.


The word is not without its problems. For instance, I’m going to guess that most people see “dreamcatcher” and think this:


Not the idea at all. Dream catchers are actually a bit problematic. The dream catchers seen at gift shops and thrift stores today originate from an Ojibwe legend. They were originally talismans of Asibikaashi, or Spider Woman, to give people – especially children – a protective charm. Then European settlers thought they looked cool and they ballooned out into a new age decoration.

Cultural (mis)appropriation at its finest. Well, I have no desire to co-opt a mythology and shoehorn it into my work. My Dreamcatcher has nothing to do with Spider Woman or with native culture. He is not a reflection on any group of native peoples.

Dreamcatcher is nothing more or less than the main protagonist of my first novel and, now that the legal hurdle has been crossed, I’m dying to have the rest of you meet him.

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