Here is some stuff you guys should know. One: I am in France. It is a good time. Cassie Clare said to me ‘What are you doing in July’ and I said ‘Erm… up to no good as usual, I guess’ and she said ‘What do you want to do in July?’
I was reading Mary Stewart’s Madam Will You Talk at the time, because it is a Gothic novel and I am on a mission to read Allllll the Gothic novels. The book is about being chased by a murderer through Provence. So I said, tentatively: ‘I’d like to go to Provence?’ (Beautiful scenery. Lavender fields. Murderers. Seemed like it would be fun.)
And here we are. I love a writing retreat. I get three times as much work done as at home, and I come back relaxed. I’m very lucky to have a job that is portable, so I can travel with my work. (I also have a job that does not involve ‘weekends,’ let alone ‘holidays’ so travelling with my work is the way to do things.)
I have a whole post to write about writers’ retreats (involving a confession of attempted murder) but this is a post about the other thing you guys should know.
Two: I have a title for my new book! My agent and I sent the book to editors as just Whisper, and then when it sold to the Wonderful Mallory Loehr we kept fiddling around with a ton of different titles, some involving the word ‘whisper’.
I have told you guys that the book is coming next year, and that I am super mega lunatic excited about it, and I talk about it a little more here, as well as about Demon’s Surrender, ladies and vampires (and while I am linking you to things, here is an essay on Sin and roles in the Lexicon series)
The plot summary, if you will recall, is YA gothic romance trilogy about a budding journalist who investigates when she realizes the town she has lived in all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets and a murderer, and the truth may lie with the ruling family who have just returned to the manor on the hill and in the whispers she hears in her head from a boy who may not be imaginary after all.
It is a lot of stuff to get in one sentence. It is even more stuff to get in a title. I wanted the idea of communication, because communication is so important to my heroine Kami, both because she wants to be a journalist, cares very much about both truth and how to tell it, and because she communicates with someone in her head–someone who she has no reason to believe is real, but the communication and the connection is terribly important to her.
I also wanted something that referenced the Gothic nature of the books. One element of the Gothic novel is the Super Creepy Family Who Live in Their Super Creepy Manor Full of Secrets, which an innocent young thing is introduced to via being a governess (Bronte’s Jane Eyre) or a poor relation (Holt’s The Shadow of the Lynx) or an unlucky serving wench (Gaffney’s Lily) or an even more unlucky young wife (du Maurier’s Rebecca. The young innocent doesn’t know about Devil-Cursed Uncle Edgar or the mad wife in the attic or the regular orgies in the rose garden. All she knows is that her–or in my case, his–very life and virtue are in peril. (Sorry about putting your very life and virtue in peril, Jared.)
The book is set in modern England, but there are still manor houses and families who used to lord it over their towns and lands, and who are in a position of less power now–but not a position of no power. And my town is a very strange town. And the idea of the family who have been gone a long time and now come back, the family both revered and sinister, up in their golden hall on the hill–I wanted that in there too. Maybe the series title, I thought! And then: oh no, now I need two titles.
Sometimes, a book comes ready-made with a title. (Sometimes, I am very jealous of whoever that happens to.) Sometimes, it requires a brain-trust of people to bounce titles off. I sent squillions of titles to my new editor, the Wonderful Mallory Loehr, and she maintained a tactful silence about them.
I sat around a table in Paris with a writers’ brain-trust: Holly Black, Cassie Clare and Robin Wasserman. I wrote words on scraps of paper and carried the scraps in my purse.
HOLLY: Maybe you could describe this Gothic family to us.
SARAH: Well… they’re all very attractive. They’re blond.
HOLLY: I meant more what they do.
SARAH: Well, all those who cross them have historically tended to perish.
HOLLY: I’ve got it! Hot Blond Death.
SARAH: Love it!
ROBIN AND CASSIE: …
ROBIN: Okay, they’re delirious. Time to separate them.
So later we were in Provence, in our turquoise pool where bees go on kamikaze missions and I zoom about the pool trying to rescue them.
BEE: Enough of my miserable life! I take the plunge!
SARAH: Nooooo. I’ll save you, Mister Bee!
CASSIE: I’ve got it!
ROBIN: You’ve got what? The bee? Not the bee!
CASSIE: I’ve got Sarah’s title.
And she really did. And then the same day, eating cheese and lavender honey, Robin had the series title. I sent them to my editor, and she loved them.
The book is going to be called Unspoken. It’s the first book of The Lynburn Legacy.
So, so excited. I can’t even tell you.