Monday, May 4, 2009

On The Outside: Sarah Quigley

Sarah Quigley is the debut author of the very cool sounding novel, TMI, which was out in bookstores April 16. You can visit Sarah at her awesome website here.


TMI: The Title

It’s strange that TMI didn’t instantly come to mind as the title for a book about Becca the Overshare Queen. I originally called Becca’s blog “Go There” (the opposite of “don’t go there,” get it?) and thought that this could be the title of the book, too, but I wasn’t that excited about it. I needed something catchier. Several weeks went by, and I was still stumped. My editor told me not to worry; the title would work itself out eventually.

I was living in New York at the time, and I went to a party of a friend of a friend. I was talking to a woman I’d just met, and I excused myself to the bathroom. “Damn, I’ve really gotta pee!” I exclaimed. To which the woman said, “Um, too much information.”

I frowned and headed for the loo, thinking about how much I hated that phrase. Hearing it always made me feel small and stupid and embarrassed for simply being myself. And what was this woman’s problem, anyway? I was only talking about urination. It’s not like I announced, “Well, time to go change my super plus tampon now. My period’s a real gusher this month!”

Too much information, indeed. Why are some people so uptight? I thought as I sat on the toilet. I felt just like Becca at that moment, as I had many times before.

Too much information. Ugh.

And then, ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! All the light bulbs flashed in my head, and the trumpets blared, and the dancers leaped out. Too much information! What a perfect name for Becca’s blog! Wait! What a perfect title for the book!

I called my editor the next day, and she agreed.

A few months later, my editor emailed to say that the Powers That Be wanted to shorten the title to TMI. I wasn’t that jazzed about it. I liked the reaction I got when people found out my book was called Too Much Information. “What a great title!” they’d say. “I’m surprised it hasn’t been taken already.”

My publisher felt that TMI would sell better to a teen market, much like Lauren Myracle’s books ttyl and ttfn. I was concerned that not everyone would know what TMI stands for, but my editor assured me that teens would know it. Actually, most adults do, too. And hey, if shortening the title helped the book sell, I was all for it.

TMI: The Cover

I was nine months pregnant when my editor emailed me to ask if I had any ideas about the cover of TMI, such as specific images and colors. At that point, the only thing I could think about was how I was going to squeeze out what felt like a very fat baby. I wrote back something lame about a girl sitting at a computer with the letters TMI on the screen. I wanted her face hidden because it was important for readers to come up with their own vision of how Becca looked. I also said that I liked red.

Yeah, yawn.

I didn’t hear back from my editor, and I managed to squeeze out that baby (who was, in fact, on the large side, but I survived). A couple of months passed, and I forgot about the cover (gee, why would that be?).

Then one day I got an email from my editor. She was incredibly pleased with the design department, who had produced what she thought was “the cutest cupcake of a cover.” Eagerly, I opened the attachment to her message.

My jaw dropped.

I loved it.

The cover was so much better and more enticing than anything my non-artsy, sleep-deprived brain could have come up with. I didn’t even care that it showed Becca’s face (well, half of her face). She was adorable. I peered closely at the cloud of images swirling above Becca’s head and recognized important objects from the story. A unicorn. A laptop. A peanut. And yes, a cupcake.

I was thrilled.

I still am. When I go to the teen section of my local bookstores, TMI really pops out at me. Okay, maybe that’s also because I wrote it, but several of my friends have said the same thing. It’s a fantastic cover, and I think the colors and images are playful and fun, which is exactly what I was going for when I wrote TMI.


Thanks Sarah!


  1. I'm against chatspeak and unicorns, but I do love the title and cover (and actual story) on this one.

  2. Great review :o) I am looking forward to this one.

  3. I have to admit that at first I was like, "What does TMI stand for?" However, then I sad it out load to myself and smacked my head when I figured it out. I absolutely love the cover for this book and I really can't wait for it!

    Fantastic post!


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