When I wrote the first book in the Charles Lauchlan mystery series, I spent about six months obsessed with finding the absolute right title. I was convinced that somewhere, out in the ether, there was exactly the right title if I could only find it.
I read reams of poetry, combed through the King James Bible, found every nursery rhyme I could lay my hands on. I looked at other titles for mystery novels and discovered that short and snappy was fashionable. Out of all this research, I developed a list and finally selected The One.
“Astray.” That was it. Short and snappy and meant to suggest the phrase from the book of Isaiah, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” I rested on my title searching laurels.
Then, at the very last minute when the book was about to go to press, Emma Donoghue came out with a book of short stories entitled—you guessed it—Astray. I don’t consider myself in the same league as Donoghue but there was going to be confusion for book buyers. So, in a lather, I found another title and my book became, Put on the Armour of Light, also from the Bible, in this case from Paul’s letter to the Romans. From short and snappy to long and hard to remember. But I was happy with it and breathed a sigh of relief that titular disaster had been averted.
While writing the second book—very soon to be at a bookstore near you—I was more casual about the title. Since the book is set in Scotland and the Scots have many words for rain in all its guises, “Fifty Words for Rain” was it. Well satisfied, I turned to other tasks.
Then, at the very last minute when the book was about to go to press, a New York Times bestseller hit the shelves entitled—you guessed it—Fifty Words for Rain. Apparently, they also have rain in Japan. I don’t consider my books to be in the same league as New York Times bestsellers. But, in a lather, I found another title and my book became So Many Windings which refers to the Lancelot Andrewes poem that starts the book and also to the character of the roads that my fictional cyclists travel.
It just goes to show you that if you come up with a title that seems just right, chances are good that somebody else thought so too.
Don’t forget to register for the zoom launch of So Many Windings on May 27, 2021 at 7pm CDT. And remember that I’ll be signing books at Whodunit Bookstore, 163 Lilac St. in Winnipeg on May 30 from 3pm to 5pm.
Register for the zoom here