I have terrible trouble with book titles. My first novel, ‘Liar Bird’, started off being called (ahem) ‘Toading – a tale of lies, lust and feral pests.’ Yes, it’s quite embarrassing, but I feel better for having shared. Clearly it was never going to make it to a bookshop near you with a title like that. My good friend Jane Camens came up with the title ‘Liar Bird’ and I never looked back.
So, you are now asking no doubt – what title did I used to have for ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ before alighting on this one? Well, it used to be called, ‘The Greatest Child Failure in History.’ The protagonist, Edie, believes she is a terrible failure because she doesn’t surf, unlike her surf-champ dad. The trouble was that as the story grew; this particular theme didn’t feel quite as central as it was in the start. Some folks also gently suggested that it was not a very good title. In fact it was a bit of a downer.
So, I had a powwow with my publisher and she suggested ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’. Just off the top of her head in a coffee shop. Just like that. It totally fits with the story. It looks great on the cover of the book. It’s easy to say. And of course it has that magic word – sex.
But is sex a double-edged sword? It has been suggested that the key to a good cover is that people should not feel embarrassed reading it on the train in the morning. Hence those dreary grey covers that have proliferated in bookshops this year. Anyway, there’s no mistaking my cover for one of those. It’s bright, it’s beautiful and I couldn’t love it more.
I now suspect that the duller the cover, the more suspicious your fellow commuters will be as to what lies within. What do you think?