Welcome to a new website feature. I originally called it “whatever Wednesday” because it’s going to be…whatever. Usually behind-the-scenes stuff from books, snippets from works in progress, discussions like the ones from the old Preternatura “shop talk” feature, books I’m reading. In other words, whatever.
Today, because I’m working on Sentinels #5, BELLE CHASSE, I’ll talk a little bit about book titles. I’m sure different authors have different methods of coming up with titles, but I usually have the title in place before I start writing the book. Sometimes the titles are obscure to the reader but make sense to me. The publisher always has final say on the title, but I’ve never had one flat-out say I couldn’t use the title I chose. Well, so far at least.
They’ve gone something like this…
ROYAL STREET. This was always the name of my first book, and while there are a couple of mentions of the street by that name in the book itself, the title, for me, actually refers to the fact that some of New Orleans “royalty”—the historical undead—play a big role in the book. Louis Armstrong, Jean Lafitte, Marie Laveau in particular. And of course, Jean Lafitte, who in the original manuscript was planned for one scene, sailed through the door and refused to leave. And aren’t we glad?
RIVER ROAD. Also was the name of the book from the conception onward. There is a River Road in New Orleans so we’re keeping with the street-name theme, but of course the novel is about the Mississippi River and the River Styx, so there’s a play on words there as well.
ELYSIAN FIELDS. Again, this one was named from the outset, even though Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans doesn’t factor into the novel. But Elysian Fields, in mythology, is the final resting place of the souls of heroes. And while one of the historical undead roaming through the book is far from a hero, another one is very much the hero. You know who I’m talking about
PIRATE’S ALLEY (April 2015). Again, the actual site of Pirate’s Alley only occurs in one scene in the book (a minor one, at that), but everybody’s favorite undead French pirate is at the heart of this book and this has been the title from the outset. Wait until you hear his answer to DJ’s question: “What do I mean to you?” He will make you cry.
BELLE CHASSE (date TBA but hopefully fall 2015). Still working on this one, but I don’t anticipate that Belle Chasse Highway, a major thoroughfare on the westbank of the river, will be in the book. But “Belle Chasse” translates as “Good Hunting,” and some of our favorite characters are being hunted in this book.
How about the Susannah Sandlin novels?
REDEMPTION was originally titled STOCKHOLM, which referred to the name of the town and the question of whether Krys had Stockholm Syndrome or whether she really loved Aidan—and, in the end, did it matter as long as she was happy. As the book transitioned through revisions away from that question and more into the romance realm, I changed the town’s name from Stockholm to Penton and the title applied, instead, to Aidan’s journey as he sought redemption from his past.
ABSOLUTION was the title of Mirren’s book from the beginning. He was the darkest character I’d written to that point…in some ways he and Will are still the darkest characters…and he is definitely seeking absolution.
OMEGA is a title I wish I could change. It was originally intended to be the final book in the series, but by the time I finished it, I realized that there was a character arc with Cage and Melissa that I wanted to explore. So Omega was supposed to be the end, as well as the name of the underground facility the town moved into. If I were to retitle it, I’d find something that fit Will’s journey to self-acceptance.
ALLEGIANCE was a mystery to me. It went by the sexy name of “Penton 4” until the bitter end, when you, the readers, stepped in to suggest titles. But it very much fits Cage’s journey in this book.
As Penton segues into a new phase (more on this later, I’m still considering the details), I’m not sure what direction it will go. Only that Nik needs his story told and Aidan and Krys need closure.
LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP was the title of this book from the moment I came up with the idea of Knights Templar treasure lost in a shipwreck. It’s from the poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.
DEADLY, CALM, AND COLD was a very late title in coming, and my editor was a huge help with it. It needed to go along with LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP, and I had originally wanted to use another line from the same Robert Frost poem, “The Darkest Evening of the Year.” There was already a high-profile book (a Dean Koontz title) by that name, however, so I jokingly called this manuscript “The Little Horse Must Think It Queer” for the longest time (also a line from the Frost poem). Once we got to the last-possible second, though, my editor and I bounced ideas back and forth until we came up with the final.
So that’s the story behind the names! Anything surprise you? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card.