A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

NOTE: the blog is currently dormant but please enjoy the posts we're keeping online.

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Friday, March 2, 2018

What's in a Name?

Last month, I re-released a favourite mystery/romance of mine called FREEMAN. It's a bit of a mysterious title in itself, isn't it?  Why didn't I call it "Tense Suspense in London's Seedy Clubland" or "Romance Blossoms Between Two Very Different Men While Foiling Dastardly Plots"? Many fabulous titles are published in the Romantic Suspense/Mystery genre, which grab a potential reader's attention with an immediate snapshot of the book's content, in just a few words.

Well, Freeman is the name of my main character. And he's mysterious in his own way, throughout the book. One name, one purpose, one narration. But - Confession time! - that's not the only reason I chose the title.

The easy answer is that it was a working title that stuck. Authors, have you ever found that to be the case? A title isn’t immediately obvious when you start writing, so you decide to file the work in progress as "book XXX", "FinishByXmasOrElse", "The Mystery One", or just "That B****y Book". Then, as time goes by and the novel takes shape, the working title can’t be shaken off.

And for the character himself? The same thing happened with him. I can’t even remember where I got his name from, but one day it was there, and it stayed. Determinedly. Relentlessly. Doggedly. Dear me, that’s just like Freeman himself!

And why only one name? No one ever mentions Freeman’s first name in the book, not even the man himself. Maybe it’s like Inspector Morse, who doesn’t reveal his first name until the end of the series. Or like many a star in the public eye who’s known only as a single name. Is that behaviour kitsch? Coy? Paranoid? There are probably a variety of reasons for it, and to be honest, I can’t presume to know Freeman’s motivation.

He just is.

Names of books and characters are important to me. Sometimes the names declare themselves very firmly to me, right from the start. Even if I try to change them later on, it just won’t work! (like Freeman)

And sometimes I have to seek for a while to find the right names. As an author, I’ll often look for inspiration in a poem or a popular saying. Or search lists of baby names of all ethnicities and sources, looking for the right sound and meaning. For example, Maen in my fantasy novel Branded came from the Welsh word for “rock”, because that’s what he is to Dax and the other soldiers under his command. Niall in my suspense thriller 72 hours means “champion”: Red in my romance Flying Colors is a nickname for Richard, meaning “powerful leader”. I like to play with the names, you can see!

What do you think about names? Do you like seeing unusual ones? Readers, do they turn you on or off in a book?

Thanks for visiting today!


Freeman’s return to the city is quiet, without fuss. Another client: another case. He’ll source what they need and be on his way. But he’s been missed by more people than he thought: his ex-wife, his ex-lover, and his ex-business partner. And at least one of them wants him the hell gone again. 

Freeman — private, controlled – just does his job. But when he strikes up an unusual friendship with the young runaway Kit, trouble comes looking for both men, ready to expose secrets that can destroy their fragile trust. Yet, for Kit, Freeman’s more than ready for the challenge.

BUY Freeman today at Amazon | in other formats plus excerpt.
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Lillian Francis said...

I find titles either come to me in a flash of inspiration or they have to be dragged in existence kicking and screaming.
My favourite title of mine is When Love Flue In.

JL Merrow said...

My titles usually only emerge after about three million years of brainstorming, several gallons of wine, a pit of despair and a deadline forcing me to pick the least worse one!

Although with the Plumber's Mate Mysteries it's a little easier, as they're all two-word plumbing terms. ;)

My personal favourite title of my own is Pricks and Pragmatism - it definitely got attention!

Good luck with the re-release!

Unknown said...

I've never had a working title stick, because I usually come up with such generic placeholders such as [Hero and Heroine's] Book. The one exception to this was Vengeance. It started out as Massacre.

I HATE picking final titles and struggle with it in a similar manner to JL Merrow, although without the wine. :D

On the other hand, I've had trouble when I assigned what I thought was a placeholder character name and then couldn't change it because the character had "become" that name! LOL

Like you, I use baby name books to help with names if I know I want a particular origin or meaning. And sometimes I make up names, just to be different. ;)

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