Saturday, December 02, 2006

I'll never forget old what's-her-name...

Okay, back to the titles stories....

Three Kind of Lies
Remember Me, Irene

I had a new editor about halfway into the process of revising Dear Irene,. For a time, I believed I had talked her into dropping the name Irene from the titles. Don't get me wrong -- I like Irene's name. It's great for her, the character. But as a title, linked with imperatives....well, I believe it was Gar Anthony Haywood (aka Ray Shannon) who predicted that one day I'd write a book entitled Go to the Refrigerator and Get Me a Beer, Irene.

There was also a series about Irene Adler, "the woman" to those familiar with Sherlock Holmes, written by Carole Nelson Douglas. Carole's publisher wanted the name "Irene" in all of her titles too. You can imagine the confusion this caused our readers. For starters, her Irene Adler books take place about 100 years earlier than the Irene Kelly series.

So I was excited that my new editor was listening to ideas for new titles, and I had picked out what I still consider one of my best working titles for the fourth book in the series. New editor, new contract, everything was looking good for the fourth book to be Three Kinds of Lies. Then a single bookseller talked my editor out of it. (Yes, I know who you are, and I, um, can't thank you enough.)

Ironically, when I ask longtime fans to name the books with Irene in the title, they can rattle off the first three, then they stall out on number four. The title Remember Me, Irene is apparently difficult to remember. They'll recall the book and what it's about, but not the title.
C'est ma vie.

Where did the title I wanted originate? In another century.
Benjamin Disraeli, British prime minister in the mid-19th century, said these famous words:

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Those of you who have read Remember Me, Irene will know about the connection of statistics to the story.

I didn't get my way on the title, but I did get the best cover I'd had up until then. And the new editor began to patiently teach me a few things I really needed to learn at that point. Which is why, I think, that Hocus marks a change in the series.


Elizabeth Foxwell said...

I wish that there had been a beverage alert posted before this entry. That Gar is too darn funny...

Anonymous said...

Will there be more Irene novels?

Anonymous said...

Will there be more Irene novels?

Jan Burke said...

Hi anonymous commenting person --

Yes, I do plan to write more Irene Kelly novels!


PS I have no idea why your comment doesn't show up on the blog itself! Mysteries known only to

Anonymous said...

A couple days late, but I was interested to see you mention the change in the series with Hocus. It was a huge change for me. I had read and enjoyed the previous books, but more in the "oh, good, here's another one" kind of way when I ran across them in the bookstore rather than looking forward to and jumping onto them the day they came out.

When I found Hocus, I was out of town on a business trip, desperate for something to read other than contracts, but it was only out in hardback. I wasn't buying in hardback at that time because I had no room in my small apartment for anything other than paperbacks and could only keep a limited number of those. With trepidation, I purchased Hocus and then absolutely COULD NOT put it down. From that point on, I've purchased all your books in hardback as soon as they appear and went back and found the "Irene" books in hardback. Whatever the inspiration, with Hocus, it went from a good series to a "must have" series for me.

BTW, before Hocus, I identified your books because of the "Irene" title. After Hocus, I looked for your books by your name. You just never know.

Jan Burke said...

Deborah, I'm truly flattered! Thanks for posting this comment. You made my day!


Sandra Ruttan said...

I find these title tales fascinating. I suck with titles.