Backstory: A Good Book Title
July 28, 2008
Okay, this wasn’t supposed to be the next post in the lengthy “backstory” saga, but I have some notes about the title of this book. I don’t usually come up with the final title for a book right away. This novel had a lot of working titles. I’ve forgotten most of them, but here’s my favorite:
Daddy Take My Kidney, Lover Take My Heart. This was a suggestion by one of my favorite writers, Ellen Recknor. But it gives away too much and it’s too funny. I have no problem with humor except this book is way more drama than comedy. Eventually I came up with:
The You I Never Knew. This was one of those lucky titles that occurred to me out of the blue. Later, another of my favorite writers, Barbara Dawson Smith, sent me a clip from People about an 80s pop star who meets “the son he never knew.” They ran a picture of the sixteen-year-old kid and the dad he finally found, and the similarity was eerie. Life imitates art?
The title works on several levels. We have Michelle, estranged from her former-Hollywood-icon father since she was seventeen. Now an adult single mother, she reunites with him for both the best and worst of reasons. They don’t know each other anymore, and for both of them, the future depends on fixing the situation.
There’s another storyline for this title as well. Cody, her teenage son, is in full-on rebellion mode, and one of the things he’s struggling with is his identity. Is it important to know where your DNA comes from? Or is there something else at work? Cody and his biological father, Sam, have never known each other, a choice Michelle has struggled with all Cody’s life. Now father and son meet for the first time, and the situation explodes.
So the title tells a lot about the story, but even before the reader knows anything about the plot, it’s appealing. When a manuscript is shopping for a publisher, an appealing title can separate it from the pack.