From the day a manuscript is turned in to the book's publication a year or more later, book titles have a funny way of changing. Both of the novels with my name on the cover that released in 2010 got fresh titles before publication. Beguiled, co-written with my friend Deeanne Gist, was called The Deceitful Welcome when we handed the manuscript over. I remember sitting across the conference room table from our editor as he politely said, "Umm ... no."
My first Roland March novel was called The Suicide Cop originally. After a grueling brainstorming process (during which my editor Dave Long and my line editor Luke Hinrichs helped me come up with dozens of possibilities only to have them shot down one after another), we finally settled on a workaround. The book was divided in three sections, the first of which was titled “Back on Murder.” We swapped the section and book titles, titling the novel Back on Murder and the first section “The Suicide Cop.”
I wrote the second book with the title Pattern of Wounds already in mind, and that’s the way it stayed ... after another lengthy brainstorming process. Score one for me!
My luck didn't hold. The working title for the third book was The Devil of Matamoros. I like that, but my editors worried that it didn’t peg the story quite right. (Not to mention the implications for South-of-the-border tourism.) Plus, now that the first two March novels had three word titles, I’d established a pattern -- and hadn't I already used an 'of' in Book 2?
The notepad came out, a list of alternatives developed. My favorite: Ain’t No Grave, from the Johnny Cash song. But have you ever tried to convince English majors that “ain’t” is proper English? It ain’t easy, so in the end the book became Nothing to Hide.