Evolution of a book title

by Julie Frayn on March 24, 2014 in  Writing

Often, titles come easy. Suicide City started out as a ‘what if’ moment at a transit station, and the title hit me in an instant. The story grew around it. It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead came from words spoken by one character to another and just rang true. An ‘aha’ moment for sure. For my third novel, finding the right title has been a struggle.

It began as “Unlike any normal day.” The story follows an abused woman, whose normal includes some pretty brutal beatings. She is hoping for a life filled with another form of normal. Normal people’s normal, if you will.

As the story unfolded, it became clear that title wasn’t going to do. I found it kind of dull, and not indicative of what happens as the story is told. After a quick facebook poll where I offered three options to my loyal band of followers (I hate that term. Makes me sound like a diabolical cult leader), the title changed to “She’d Kill for Normal.” It is definitely a better indicator of content, tells the reader the story is told from a female point of view, and incorporates two important aspects of the story. Kill. Normal. Because isn’t that every-day for everyone?

But I didn’t love it. It didn’t sing. In fact, it sounded (as my editor so honestly expressed) like a B-movie. What to do?

Ask my editor! (Why didn’t I think of that before?)

He suggested something completely different. A title that, he said (and I quote), “smells of paternalism and yet belies the savagery she’s capable of, so eventually it becomes ironic.”

Have I said too much? Savagery can be good, right?

And so I give you the new title, the final title, the true title of my third novel:

Mazie Baby

Here is a passage from the story that explains the importance of this particular nickname:

She used to love it when he called her that. Mazie baby. It spoke of his love for her, his desire to take care of her, keep her safe. Like a mother is supposed to keep a child safe from harm. It morphed into a taunt, like a schoolyard bully mocking a weak kid crying for his mommy. What’s the matter, baby? You gonna cry, baby?

Now, I know you’re all humming along to the new ear worm in your head. But some of Buddy Holly’s lyrics are apropos to the story.

Maybe baby, I’ll have you

Maybe baby, you’ll be true

Maybe baby, I’ll have you for me

(All for me)

The next post on this book will be very exciting. A cover reveal! Not right away. Not next blog post or anything. Chill, eh? But maybe, baby, it’ll be soon…

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Carolyn Frayn March 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Love it! 😀 Mazie Baby…
So glad Maybe Baby replaced my last ear worm.


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