Monday, February 16, 2009

On The Outside: Tara Altebrando

Tara Altebrando is the author of two Young Adult novels, The Pursuit of Happyness, which I read a long time ago and loved!, and her newest novel, What Happens Here. Tara also writes under the name Tara McCarthy, who writes more general fiction for adults.


How did you come up with the title for What Happens Here? I swear I had as much trouble naming this book and I did naming my daughter. If it had been up to me and only me, I think the book might have ended up with one of its two working titles, but there are, of course, editors and marketing managers and publishers (or, in the case of my daughter, her father!) who have a say.

The first working title for the book was Eye in the Sky. The two main characters, Chloe and Lindsay, are fascinated with the surveillance cameras on the Las Vegas Strip—and also with the sort of satellite images you can find on the web of pretty much any street corner—so I thought it made sense and I also just liked the sound of it and thought it could inspire some ethereal and creepy cover art. Since surveillance tapes play a part in the plot, I thought it was a done deal. But it didn't fly with my publisher. I don't know whether bad associations with the song by that name by the Alan Parsons project was a factor.

I moved on.

Next up: Exploding Hearts. It's the name of a real-life band that is mentioned in the book, and I also just love those words together. Three members of the band died in a car crash and I felt like the book was also grappling with the issue of how to cope with random tragedy, so I thought it was an apt cultural reference. But I was told from on high that the title absolutely needed to convey the Vegas setting of the book. I'm still not entirely sure why, but there you have it.

So, everyone kept talking about calling the book "What Happens in Vegas"—because of the ad campaign—but I was adamantly against that. It seemed too glib, maybe. Or just clichéd. [And I should note that this was before anyone knew there was an Ashton Kutcher movie by that name coming down the pike.]

After much hemming and hawing and whining, I suggested WHAT HAPPENS HERE—since it's at least a little less "on the nose"—and when that was paired with imagery that conveyed Vegas, everyone was pleased. I hadn't realized until after it was chosen as the final title that there are a lot of important moments in the book that begin with lines like "This is how it was supposed to happen…" "This is what really happened…" So the title echoes the text in some ways, which is nice. So thanks for asking, Kelsey! This was fun.

Thanks go much Tara!

If any author wants more details on how you can do an On The Outside post with me, please email me at with On The Outside in the subject line and I'll get to you immediately with the details!

1 comment:

  1. Its look like this book is to find out the life on the outside.


Good? Bad? Ugly? I don't care as long as you tell me!

(P.S. You might have to double click.)