Tuesday, June 7, 2011

H is for Heartless

I’m embarrassed to say, I actually had to think a while about that one.

AE: “What am I going to do for H in my A-Z Heartless posts?”

Rohan: “Hmmmm. That’s a tough one. What about . . . Heartless?”

Oh. Yeah.

So anyway!

Titles are not my very favorite thing in the world. I’m sure plenty of authors know what I’m talking about. And it is such an important part of your story. It’s the name! It’s the definition! It’s the forever word association! Pick a bad one and you’re stuck.

But it’s just so beyond reason difficult.

This one started out with the title Dragon Princess. It is still filed under Dragon Princess in my computer, actually. But I never intended to give the story that title. For one thing, it gave away too much. For another . . . I mean, seriously . . . Dragon Princess?

After much thought, hair-pulling, digging around, etc. I came up with another real winner: The Heart of Goldstone Wood. Except . . . what did that mean?

Maybe Aethelbald’s true heart? But he comes from Farthestshore. Stepped out of the Wood yes, but comes from Farthestshore. Well, maybe it could refer to the Gold Stone for which the Wood is named . . . which is referenced maybe twice. And doesn’t have anything to do with this story. Um. Could it be Princess Una’s stolen heart? But why would that be of Goldstone Wood?

That title lasted about a week.

Eventually, my publishers recommended the title Kiss of Fire. That made me think of this, this, or this. So we didn’t go with that one . . .

I went through lots of other even less favorable options. I tried quotes from Shakespeare having to do with fire and hearts. There are plenty. None of them fit. Besides, it always seems like cheating to fall back on Shakespeare to provide you with a decent title.

At long last, after many ups and downs and turn abouts, Heartless was settled upon. Yes, it’s a title we’ve seen before, and yes, it’s been especially popular among tawdry romance books. But it did fit the major themes of the story. It was simple and direct. I original called it Heartless: A Fairy Tale, but my agent recommended removing the tag line. Which was wise, since it would not have fit with a whole series.

I can’t say that I was ever thrilled with this choice, even though I came up with it. My sister-by-selection (not born into the family, but might as well have been) particularly disliked it, saying it was too cliché for an original story. I had to agree, but it was still the best title anybody had come up with. So it stuck.

And in the end, with that stunning cover and the pretty font that BHP came up with, I have to say I like it pretty well!

So there you have the saga of the title.

I really have been fortunate in that, so far at least, I have gotten to choose the titles of my novels. A lot of authors don’t. Publishing houses will often select a title since it is their job to do the marketing anyway, and a good title goes a long way for good marketing. But for Heartless, Veiled Rose, and Moonblood, my publishers liked the titles I suggested. I really can only say that I love the title for Veiled Rose. The others . . . meh. They work. They suit the stories. Maybe I’ll get better at it as I go?


Anonymous said...

I like the tile for Heartless. The title was a big reason why I decided to read it. The cover was another big reason. Well it was interesting hearing the evolution of the title!!!!!!

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Oh, I'm glad you liked the title! That makes me feel better. :)

Anne said...

I love the title & the cover! (I also really like the 'M' which is forthcoming...! :) )

Anonymous said...

Christa here! I like the title. It's mysterious and made me wonder how it fit with the story. Also, I'd never heard of any other books with the same title, but maybe my choice of books is limited?

Coral said...

The book "Heartless" is the only book I read by you so far. I happened to find it at the closing of border's bookstore. The title was the first thing to jump out at me on the emptying selves. The lettering chose for the words stood out. I mean really stood out. :)

I grabbed the book like I was winning a shopping spree. The girl on cover looked so elegant. I haven't even began to look at the back of the book and no other books could compare or even catch my interest as this one did.

I did buy cat books and children books that I like to collect but for an actually story to really get into I past up numbers of books of science fiction. Most of the books looked like cheesey romance novels. Hahah! I actually started to read the book in line at the check out when another lady eyed up my copy of the book. I actually got out of line to take her to the last two copies. She took them both. :) One for a gift, she said. We both got in line and laughed as we were glued to the book like twilight fans and vampire merchandise.

I loved the book so much I finished it in two nights. I couldn't put it down. When I emailed you today, I was a little confused I assumed this was the first book of the series because on the last page it say's the story has just begun. LMAO. No numbers or a page listing previous books. lol. My bad! :)
I see now I am in the middle of the alphabet. Are the stories continuous or independent?