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I'm so happy to host the talented and lovely Emily Gee on the blog today! Please give Emily a warm welcome everyone.
Hi everyone! I’m delighted to be here on the fabulous Nalini Singh’s blog!
Since I’m wrestling with titles at the moment, I thought I’d talk about the process of finding the right title for a book. Titles are tricky and elusive things! Sometimes the perfect title just appears out of nowhere – but just as often it doesn’t.
As an example, I’ll use a book of mine that came out in 2009 – a dark and romantic fantasy novel about a young woman (named Saliel) who is a spy. We’ll call it Saliel’s book, for now.
Saliel’s book started life as MASQUERADE, because both Saliel and the hero are spies and are (obviously) masquerading as people they’re not – in this case, nobles in the decadent and oppressive Corhonase court. The title fitted, but it was so generic that it had to go! (Visit amazon.com and see how many books have the title MASQUERADE. Lots!)
Next came the title WALK IN SHADOWS, which I still like for a number of reasons: Saliel and the hero are often in the catacombs below the Corhonase citadel (which are obviously dark and shadowy places); when they’re above ground in the Corhonase court, they’re constantly under the shadowy threat of capture and torture and death; and Saliel comes from the worst of her homeland’s slums, a taint that will forever be a shadow over her head. But that title was too like the title of my previous fantasy novel (THIEF WITH NO SHADOW). It made the two books sound like they were part of a series, which they weren’t – different worlds, different magic.
So Saliel’s book then became EYE SPY, which again fitted very well. The main characters are spies, and both Saliel and the sadistic spycatcher possess a form of magic called witch-eye. However, EYE SPY has a very contemporary and almost humorous ring to it, and Saliel’s book has a dark tone and is set in an oppressive Elizabethan world. So that title had to go.
Finally, my agent came up with THE LAURENTINE SPY, which is the title we went with. The title tells us that the book is about a spy, the fabulous cover shows Saliel and the hero in the catacombs, and while there’s no hint of magic in the title, the backcover blurb deals with that: Saliel has many secrets; her spying is one, her past as a pickpocket in Laurent’s slums is another, but her most deeply guarded secret is the magic she possesses. She walks a narrow path between discovery as a spy and being burned as a witch. Etc, etc.
So, there you have it: the evolution of a title! Any opinions? Did we go with the title you would have chosen for this book? Do you hate them all? Would you have chosen something completely different? Or do titles really have no importance on your book-buying and book-reading habits? (All commenters will go in a draw to win a copy of THE LAURENTINE SPY.*)
*Contest closes midnight Friday 24th September 2010, New Zealand time. Winner will be chosen randomly via the random number generator at random.org and his or her name posted in the comments and on the top of this post. Void where prohibited.