Out of the six books I have written so far only three have had titles that were perfect from the start. The Garden of Empress Cassia could not have been called anything else. The same goes for A Ghost in My Suitcase and The Lion Drummer. But the title, The Pearl of Tiger Bay was such a struggle. A few working titles for that book were Dragongreen, and Annie and the Secret of the Toes. The Hidden Monastery‘s working title was Whispers From the Edge of the World. I still love the sound and the feel of that one but for some reason decided against it. I think it had to do with the length. A lengthy title makes it hard for readers to remember. Who, off the top of their heads, can remember Mark Haddon’s well-known book, The Incident… Excuse me while I check my bookshelf…. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time?
And so I come to my current WIP tentatively called Little Paradise. Apart from the title, this novel presents three new challenges for me.
1. It’s my longest novel so far at about 70,000 words.
2 It’s for young adults, a new genre for me.
3. And it’s historical fiction.
Those challenges are great. Indeed, every book should be a challenge, otherwise how else can one improve. But once again, I’m stumped for a good title. I like ‘Little Paradise‘ but not for this book because the story is a sweeping saga that spans roughly 9 years of a girl’s life – crossing oceans and continents. The word ‘little’ seems to shrink the story. The term ‘Little Paradise’ does have relevance though. It refers to that safe place inside us all, that we can escape to in times of trouble. In my heroine’s case it is her art.
Titles are important. The title and the cover go hand in hand. They both need to reflect the feel or idea of the novel. When I read Tim Winton’s, The Riders, although I enjoyed the novel immensely, I was perplexed as to why he gave it that name.
I have tried random input – opening a book with my eyes closed and pointing to a word or group of words. I have tried reading film titles in the hope that an idea will be sparked. Or going to a bookshop. All in vain.
And so I write this blog and send it to the place where titles are made. Perhaps I will receive an answer tonight by way of a dream from the Land of Venerable Titles.