The final hurdle for my babe in arms manuscript (aside from the last round of edits, the acknowledgements, the promo plan and the cover) was the title. I sensed my original title Saint wasn’t quite right for the story but I was at a loss to come up with an alternative.
The title of a book IS important. It’s the first hook, it holds the intrigue and must reflect something of what is promised between the covers. It should capture the essence of the story. For some books it’s easy, the title jumps out, but for other’s the title is something a writer has to work hard for. And sometimes it turns out it’s not the writer’s job to discover the story’s name. Sometimes a book’s title is being carried around in someone else’s pocket.
Initially I chose Saint because it reflected the broader idea of the sacrificial martyr being a saint, as Banjo appears to be. And I knew readers would assume Jade to be the opposite of a saint, until they got further into the book to uncover the truth about Jade.
The novel covers some big themes: stereotyping of women and men, the limiting notions of ‘The Good Wife and Mother’, and marriage as a one-size-fits-all prospect. There are secrets and private longings and mysteries. Underneath it all flows a deep meditation on love and the many forms it comes in. I had no idea how to capture all these Big Ideas into one Pithy Title. But I had to, because Saint wasn’t right, and my publisher wanted me to change it.
I took to the tools of a writer’s trade - my Fat Thesaurus and my beautiful leather bound notebook, a gift from my work mates before I left the public service - and made a long list. This is what it looked like.
You can see for yourself, my ideas weren’t exactly earth shattering. I mused and worried and poked around the internet and in the end felt deeply uninspired. I talked it over with my agent, who threw in a couple of new suggestions and in the end submitted this list to my publisher along with the final manuscript:
- Saints and Lovers
- Bound by Love
- Book of Lovers
- Banjo: a love story
- Jade and I
- Man - Woman - Love
- Journey to Love
- Tough Love
- From now to forever
- The Art of Love
Sigh. The only one of those I really thought worked was Tough Love – as it described both Jade’s and Banjo’s experience of their relationship, but it had too much of a New Adult flavour, it sounded too muscled, too hard and didn’t speak to the deeper themes of the book.
Then my publisher came back with a suggestion - ‘Jade’.
Jade. It was so simple. I did some googling on the name and look what I found.
Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of the name Jade
a : a disreputable woman
b : a flirtatious girl
And by extension, the word jaded
1a : to wear out by overwork or abuse
b : to tire or dull through repetition or excess
reflected Banjo's experience.
The meaning of jade the gemstone is protection, hardiness, strength, purity and apparently a jade butterfly is a symbol that will bring lasting love. It was obviously the right name for the book, staring me in the face the whole time. Why the hell didn’t I think of it?
A day later my publisher came back to me with their final idea for a title, a small extension: Being Jade.
I was sold on ‘Jade’, so I wasn’t so sure about the ‘Being’ as a prefix. It didn’t grab me. But everyone else loved it, especially my publisher who thought it was the right title for the book. I realised then that this book had already begun to take on its own life. People who had read it had established their own relationship to it and I now had to trust the story to do its work and deliver an appropriate title into my tired hands. Being Jade was that title. And it was my job as author to accept it with grace. So I did.
The rest, as they say in the classics, is history.
Being Jade is available now from all respectable and not-so respectable book retailers and e-tailers. Order it from your local independent bookshop or go to
This is the final post in my Journey to Jade series on the writing of Being Jade. You can catch up with my previous posts here: