Sunday, July 24, 2011

More about Titles: Introducing DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL

This week the committee met at Berkley to discuss cover ideas and titles for my newest series featuring Jane Eyre and her husband Edward Rochester as amateur sleuths.  My new editor Shannon Vazquez Jamieson was kind enough to ask for my input. I brainstormed a few titles and book cover ideas.

In the end, the title that everyone loved was...Death of a Schoolgirl: The Jane Eyre Chronicles. Or maybe The Jane Eyre Chronicles: Death of a Schoolgirl. The order is yet to be determined, but either way, the series will be "The Jane Eyre Chronicles." I'm thrilled! My agent Paige Wheeler of Folio Literary Management was also pleased.

All the books will be a variation of "Death of a..." As a reader, I love titles that have some sort of cohesion. As an author, the subtitle with its lead-in also helps me focus on the upcoming narratives. In fact, my sister Jane (!) and I sat around last night talking plot points for the second book in the Jane Eyre series. Jane's a keen reader. Her insight really helped me think through my characters, their motivation, and the themes that I plan to use as the underpinnings of Book #2. Jane helped me go past the obvious and add real depth to my characters by making their motivations more complex. We got some great work done--and had fun, too!

As for cover images, I sent Shannon photos of the famous "Nursemaid's Tunnel" in London. When I began my Jane Eyre book, I didn't know this tunnel existed. While researching the neighborhoods around The Regent's Park, the tunnel turned up.  And yes, the tunnel figures into the mystery. See, that's one of the coolest parts of writing. There's a serendipity at work that you can't predict. I mean, who knew?

Here's another shocker: While we lived in England, David and I were invited to dinner at a private home near the area that I'm writing about. So when I looked up floor plans for houses circa 1850, I quickly recognized they were similar to the house we'd visited. That made visualizing the action much easier.

I mention those happy coincidences in part because many would-be writers think they need to know everything before they sit down to write. WRONG. The unexpected discoveries along the way make writing fun! I have three sparkling characters who just "showed up" when I was at work on the book. One wasn't even invited.

Here's my question: Remembering that my books will be set in the 1850s, whom should I kill off? In other words, help me fill in the blanks: Death of a____________.


Liz V. said...

Lum Swooper (chimney sweep)

The following is 1891, but surely census compilations by occupation are available for earlier years

Dru said...

1. pharmacy's apprentice
2. carriage driver
3. caped man

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this idea for a series and can't wait to read it Joanna.


Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Oooh. Love all of those. I'll start the list immediately with both sets on top. Thanks! Especially "lum swooper." And pharmacy assistant--I had never thought of that.

Monica Ferris said...

Stable boy
Lady's Maid
Love Liz's suggestion of a list of occupations!

Julie said...

Oh, wow:

Countess, Viscount, etc. etc.

There are a bazillion, aren't there?

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Kristopher, I'm counting heavily on librarians to spread the word. Since Jane Eyre is such a classic, I hope my new take will help bring more readers back to the original. Also, I've worked very hard to create a theme as I've also done with Kiki. So this theme comes directly from this Bible verse:

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
--Matthew 25:40, King James Version of the Bible

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I love the word: busker. So few words are evocative and that one brings back memories of musicians in the tube stations.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

And again, that idea of checking out the list of occupations is brill.

Now remember, everyone, that Edward Rochester had also traveled the world. So my list does NOT have to be confined to the UK, because I can see Jane and Edward traveling. I mean, I could have a Parisan showgirl, and so on.

Liz V. said...

Saw your comment on travel and wanted to suggest travel to Greece, so maybe:
sponge diver
bee keeper

But, came across an article on Greece's participation in the 1851 Great Exhibition, w/ a diagram of all the exhibits of participating countries. Exotic locales showcased in London.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Liz, you are a gem. How did you know I chose 1851 because of the Great Exhibition? Charlotte Bronte was so taken with it that she visited five times! Thanks for the tip. (And for a great reason to finally get to go to Greece.)

Deje said...

Victorian Madame

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Deje, I like both of those. My research says that the number of girls and women supporting themselves through prostitution was astounding. I don't have the figures at hand, but geez, it was stunning. So many people moved to London, and they had so few choices if they didn't want to starve...