Working Titles

It's only five weeks until the release of Blood Clay, yet this morning I had another title ghost through my head. There's something about naming the child that is difficult, sometimes impossible - the right name has already been taken, is too close to another, too plain, too exotic. Just like in families. One aunt has a lovely name but an unfortunate history. The father loves Angela and the mother loves Helene and the great-aunt chooses - Zenobia?
Blood Clay started life with a working title of Feral, which links to the behavior of cats, dogs, people, and communities - but also conjures up images of horror movies.
I tried Birds Without Nests - maybe it was the negativity, but that didn't fly.
My publisher loved the book but hated the title, and there was a flurry of email as we tried various options. Finally, a recurrent image in the text provided a path.
But should it be Blood/Clay? Clay/Blood? Blood and Clay?
We settled, at last, on Blood Clay. And I like it.
You can run a title through Lulu's titlescorer for a computer-generated rating, based on a statistical analysis of bestsellers (full disclosure: my title has a 63.7 percent chance of being a best seller, exactly the same as Feral. We won't talk about Birds Without Nests).
Oh, about that title this morning. The Road to Hell.
Now, that won't work. Immediately I was reminded of The Road to Perdition, which is another version of the same proverb. Yet like Feral it's descriptive of the plot. There's not a single major character in the book who's not trying to do the right thing, as he or she sees it, all following that road paved with best intentions.

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