Sunday, 8 March 2015


Hello and - ack - happy Monday, my cinnamon rolls! I know a Monday post is unexpected, but don't worry, I'll still be posting on Thursday to announce the winners of #Zolahpalooza (and if you haven't entered not? Get on that!). I've burst onto cyberspace today to break some news which I hadn't planned to share until next week but... well, an Amazon listing intervened, and I'd rather you hear it from me first.

So, a few weeks ago I had an email from Candlewick Press - Walker Books' American sister company and the US publisher of The Name of the Blade trilogy. They wanted to talk about the title of the third book in the trilogy. You see, although FRAIL MORTAL HEART had always been the name of the book (literally since I came up with the idea for the series in 2010, as the titles were one of the first things I thought of) and everyone liked it a lot... history, in the form of two other recently published or upcoming books, had overtaken us.

Screenshot of OneNote page from 2010 showing the haiku that inspired the titles
Those other books were, of course, MORTAL HEART, the third book in Robin LaFever's His Fair Assassin Trilogy, and THE MORTAL HEART, a Beautiful Creatures novella by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. These authors are all NYT Bestsellers and their books are huge, especially in the US. I, on the other hand, am only a bestselling author in Germany (Hallo, schön Deutsch Leser!) and otherwise my books are sort of... let's say... petite in sales terms. And thus, this strong similarity in titles was a problem. Not for them, so much - but definitely for me.

It is a fact universally acknowledged that in the world of publishing sometimes there are strange coincidences which seem to spring from the shared zeitgeist of creative energy that most writers swim around in on Twitter and Facebook and the blogosphere all the time. There's no connection between Robin LaFevers or Margaret Stohl or Kami Garcia and me, and obviously none of us knew that we were busily writing books or novellas with startlingly similar titles until it was kind of too late (for me, anyway).

I admit that when I saw the announcement of the title of Robin's book my heart sank a bit. When, just under a year later, the cover for FRAIL MORTAL HEART was released, several US blogs picked it up and made fairly stinging comments on the fact that I'd apparently been too stupid to realise 'That title's taken!' I even had a couple of not very delightful Goodreads messages about it. By the time I saw the Beautiful Creatures one, it kind of felt like the universe was trying to tell me something. So the email from my US publisher was not out of the blue.

They had a suggestion of what the name could be changed to, and it was a good suggestion - but because the title was part of the haiku (which is in the book) and also quite a significant line of the heroine's internal dialogue, it didn't really work. Plus, I already had a new title in mind, which would scan as part of the poem and convey the same idea within the book. And that title was:


Not that much of a change at all, really. I confess I do feel a pang for the word 'mortal', but I think this works equally well *and* it has alliteration going for it. In order to keep things tidy, it's been agreed that this shall be the final title for both the UK and US version of the book, which obviously necessitated some quick work on the part of Delightful Designer on the previously released UK cover (we don't have artwork for the US one yet, so nothing has to be messed with there). Here is the amended cover for the Walker Books UK paperback:

AND - which is what prompted this post to be written today in the first place - Amazon pre-orders for FRAIL HUMAN HEART are now live! So if pre-orders are your thing, have at it.

Read you later, darlinks!


Phoenixgirl said...

Yikes! I'm glad to hear you were able to keep most of the title, at least. It would have been a real shame to have to ditch the whole thing when it's been a crucial part of the haiku right from the beginning.

Zoë Marriott said...

Phoenix: I have ambivalent feelings about it, I admit! I think FHH is just as good a title as FMH, but I will always prefer FMH for purely poetic and sentimental reasons. *Sigh*

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