I am one of those people who does not judge a book by its cover, but can pretty much be persuaded to buy a novel through some mystical combination of the title and the first few pages.
Now (as a writer) I like to think that I do a fairly good job when it comes to writing the first few pages. But, and there is no pretty way to put this, I suck at titles. As I am working on a book all through the first, seventh and seventeenth drafts (I live for revision – it’s fun!), I always have a title that I love and find brilliant, but that in my heart of hearts I know will not make it.
This book was no exception. After The Moment, a novel about Leigh Hunter and his love affair with Maia Moreland began its life as The Dark Son. I thought this was perfect. Leigh’s mother writes romance novels for a living and both Maia and Leigh’s sister, Millie, are voracious romance readers. In fact, Millie is even writing a romance novel based on Leigh and Maia. It is called The Duke’s Dark Son. I thought The Dark Son would be a great reference to how Leigh and Maia’s love affair does not end on the “happily ever after” note of a romance novel. It also, I believed, echoed how Leigh felt about himself by the end of his time in Calvert Park, where he had lived with his father’s family for six months and also where he met Maia. Many things happen in the novel that Leigh doesn’t feel he handled perfectly.
My editor, who is a tactful, gentle soul, said that while she didn’t love the title The Dark Son, she wasn’t dead set against it either. And then she said, “The thing is that while this is Leigh’s story, the novel is about more than Leigh.” And so, while I was revising one last time, I let her comment float around my head.
At one point, Leigh observes that romance novels “all end on moments which are certain and right. In these stories, the hero and heroine, even before their moment arrives, are full of qualities that can only be described as right. As good.” My novel is about what happens when a romantic love hits a moment that is neither certain or right. I found my new title, and it is my fervent hope that it will echo resonate for readers as much, if not more, than my now discarded title once did for me.~~~
The winner of the signed copy of The September Sisters is Simply_Megan. Congrats Megan, you shall get an email from Jillian soon!
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