One of the hardest things about writing By Light of Hidden Candles was finding a title.
I joke that I know a book idea of mine has potential when I still haven’t thought of a title after getting past page 10. Well, I hadn’t thought of a title past page 10, or 50, or 100… I hoped that during the process of writing the manuscript, one particular line or phrase would jump out as appropriate, but nothing did. I finished the manuscript and started my first revision, and when I found myself almost near the end already with no title in sight, I started to get desperate.
My brainstorming sessions delivered everything from the silly to the insipid. A few highlights:
- The Unexpected Book (a reference to the Monty Python gag about the Spanish Inquisition, which for some reason, even after all these years, I still find hilarious)
- A Series of Uncomfortable Conversations (#truth)
- Call of the Blood (Perfect, if it didn’t sound like a horrible vampire novel)
- La Llamada de la Sangre (Sounds better in Spanish. Downside: the book is in English.)
- Hear the Call (Hello? Hello?)
- Stuff That Happened in Spain
- Return of the Ring (Lord of the Rings gone all kinds of wrong)
- Why Dead People Are Important
Finally, I thought up An Ancient Whisper, and didn’t hate it, so it became my working title.
But when I was finishing up revisions with my publisher, we decided we needed something more evocative. So we brainstormed, tossing out keywords like “echoes,” “candles,” “Lorca,” “light” etc. etc.
And boy, did hilarity ensue.
First, Don suggested A Flame in the Closet. I protested that it sounds a little too much like it belongs in the LGBTQ erotica section. We tossed around other half-baked ideas until I decided to have some fun, and suggested some clickbait:
- This Girl Caught Her Father Giving Wine to Conversos. What Happened Next Will Shock You!!!
- You’ll Never Believe What This Pair of Interfaith Friends Found in the Historical Archives of Spain!!!
- A Christian and a Jew Met by Chance… and What They Discovered About Their Family Histories Will BLOW YOUR MIND
Then Don really got into the spirit of the thing:
- On Rings of Eagles?
- Judaea Madre?
- The Chevruta of the Ring?
- The Chazzan Always Sings Twice?
After a few more rounds playing with different manifestations of “roots” and despairing that they all sounded like gardening books, Don claimed that he had it!!!
The Bloody Eggs of Doom and the Closet of Fire
“We might need to add some gratuitous screams to the dialogue,” he conceded.
I even made a word cloud to meditate on:
Finally, finally, we assembled By Light of Hidden Candles from a combination of ideas from me, Yael, Don, and my husband.
But that didn’t stop the silliness.
In an e-mail afterwards Yael joked: “I’m still reading through the latest version of By Light of Echoing Whispers (er, that is the title we settled on, isn’t it?)…”
And for the next several months, each time we referred to the book, we did so by a different parody of the title.
Some of the better ones:
- Candles in the Closet and Other Fire Hazards
- The Converso in the Cupboard
- By Light of Burning Closets
- Closet Inferno
- The Candle, the Ring, and the Wardrobe
- By Light of Various and Sundry Luminous Objects
I tell you, it was worth publishing with Kasva Press just for the banter. (Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous conversations we had during the editing process!)
Eventually we settled on referring to it as Blazing Closets. We still do on occasion!
After my author’s copies arrived in Denver, my brother Cobi happened to be there on a visit, and the next morning I woke up to discover the following conversation on my family Whatsapp (Ima=Mom, Abba=Dad, Yonit=sister, Cobi and Eliav=brothers):
…in case you were wondering where I picked up my penchant for banter-y dialogue.