by Laura Caldwell
Titles are the one of trickiest parts of writing a book. I learned that years ago with a novel of mine that was, ultimately, called The Night I Got Lucky. Originally, the book had been named What You Wish For. It was about a woman who got everything she ever wanted overnight and not only has to deal with the consequences but with the feeling of not having contributed to her life. Ultimately, I hoped the book was an essay on the tests of marriage. But the original title wasn't working for a number of people on my team, and so we went back to the drawing board. What should we call it? We came up with hundreds of titles in the next few weeks, but none of them seemed right. I’d written three women’s fiction novels (“chick lit,” if you will), and everyone thought we needed a title in that vein, something sassy, beguiling. We went round and round. Finally, still no perfect title in sight, we settled on The Night I Got Lucky, a (hopefully) catchy reminder that the character, in one night, had gotten it all. Of course, the title had a sexier implication. And that’s the way most readers saw that title. I have to admit, I’ve never liked it, never been comfortable with it, although I love the book and I’m immensely proud of it.
This summer my Izzy McNeil trilogy was released. I know y’all are sick of hearing about it, but just as a reminder for the purposes of this blog, the titles were Red Hot Lies, Red Blooded Murder, and Red White and Dead. I'm now writing four more Izzy novels, and we're trying to decide again about the titles. Should we stick with the red theme? Izzy is, after all, a redhead and red is a powerful burst of the word with lots of mysterious implications. But I'm afraid readers might get confused. They might wonder, did I read that red one or that other red one? I know this confusion because the same thing happened to me with Robert Ludlum’s books featuring Jason Bourne. I couldn't distinguish between the The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum or The Bourne Hell (was that one of them? Kinda like that title). So, now we're trying to decide whether to move onto another color. A blue series perhaps? Something like, (just tossing these out there) - The Blue Room, The Blue Hat, The Blue Diamonds? Is that too simplistic? Maybe we should stick with red albeit in a different way, maybe using synonyms like ‘crimson’ or ‘scarlet’? And if we were to cast aside the red, how could we keep that theme in there somewhere? Perhaps have my name in red? Or have a red icon on each cover? We're all brainstorming over here. If you have any thoughts, we'd love to hear 'em.