Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing - or reading - related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
Yes, I know it's not Wednesday. But I'd already written a post on Wednesday before the YA Highway topic came out and I realised that it was such an interesting one. So, never to be left out, I decided to do Roadtrip Wednesday on a Friday instead.
Okay, then: how did I pick my titles?
Well, I've got to admit that titles aren't really my forte. I struggle with them. A lot. And hardly any of my books make it through even the first draft without being re-titled several times. I find it infuriating and distracting to use a title that doesn't feel *right*, and I worry away at the problem like a coyote worries at a paw caught in a trap.
The Swan Kingdom was originally titled Wild Swans after the fairytale that inspired it. But although I liked this title and felt it fitted, there was already a very famous book with that same title. Once the book was accepted for publication my editor and I came up with many title possibilities.
For a little while the book was called A Shadow of Swans, but marketing vetoed that. For a while I favoured The Cunning Woman, but my then agent hated it. My American editor suggested Red Fox, White Swan. Eventually my editor sent me a postcard just saying 'The Swan's Kingdom?' And I sent a note back saying 'The Swan Kingdom?' and that was it. I have to admit that I'm still not entirely comfortable with it, but I've never get come up with anything better so... *Shrugs*
Daughter of the flames was originally called Signs of Fire. And it had that title for a long time in my head before I actually started writing. However, as soon as I got stuck into the story it started to feel vaguely wrong. I'm not sure why. I still think it's an okay title. It just didn't fit.
So I held a brainstorming session with my writing group. At the end of which, I felt utterly bewildered because NO ONE had come up with a suggestion that fitted. I had dozens of scribbled suggestions in my notebook and was trying to make sense of them when, suddenly, the words 'Daughter', 'Of' and 'Flames' leapt out at me. I added a 'the' to improve the rhythm, and, since my publisher loved it, we were set.
Shadows on the Moon was a tricky book to title. I knew that I wanted the word 'moon' or 'shadow' in the title because both were important metaphors and images in the story. Until about halfway through the first draft the manuscript was called Fair as the Moon (which is a Biblical quote) but although I liked the title, it didn't really feel right to use a Biblical quote for a story set in a faerytale Feudal Japan. And it felt a little too...pretty. A little too NICE. I wanted something that hinted at the darkness in the story.
Friends suggested The Shadow Weaver, but Google told me this was a character from a cartoon. Shadow Spinner was already a book title. For a little while the book was called The Moon Mask, but again, it didn't feel ominous enough. Frankly, I was stumped.
But luckily my subconscious was hard at work. Having decided to make my heroine's father a poet in the story, and the heroine herself a musician, I decided that I would write all my own poetry and songs for the book. One night I was scribbling away, trying to come up with a haiku that would encompass some of the story's themes about love and transformation, when this appeared on the page:
Love comes like stormclouds
Fleeing from the wind, and casts
Shadows on the moon
Instantly I knew I had found my title. And of all my book titles, Shadows on the Moon is probably the one I love most, because it's a phrase that is an integral part of the story and which sums up the book's most important themes perfectly. I also think that it subtly hints at the setting of the story.
So what about you guys? What titles have you used, and how did you come up with them?