The Name Game
By Jackie Morse Kessler
Names are a big deal. Just ask the kid who hates her given name. J
Authors usually get to name their books. (I say “usually” because there’s always a chance that the publisher will change the book title.) This can be migraine-inducing at times—we all want the perfect names for our novels—but other times, names can come easily. When I wrote Hunger, which looked at eating disorders and Famine, well, the name was pretty much a given from the start. Ditto for Rage, which focused on self-injury and War.
LOSS, though, isn’t as straightforward. Its focus is on bullying and Pestilence, with a subfocus on Alzheimer’s. So why did I choose to name the book “Loss”?
The book looks at different types of loss. There’s loss of memory—the protagonist’s grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer’s. There’s loss of sanity—the primary antagonist is flat-out crazy, partially due to dementia. There’s loss of self-esteem—the protagonist is horribly bullied and doesn’t have the strength at first to stand his ground. “Loss” means the act of losing, and that best describes Billy, the protagonist: he’s constantly losing himself every time he gets beaten down. There’s his loss of control when he finally has the power to strike back against his tormentors. (Not a major spoiler; it’s on the back cover copy. **whistles innocently**)
And loss happens when we say good-bye for a final time, whether we’re walking away from part of ourselves, from people in our lives, or from a situation. From loss comes grief…and, eventually, healing and moving on.
Ultimately, Billy, the protagonist, experiences loss in many forms before he comes of age. And so, LOSS was the perfect name for the book.
And happily, my editor didn’t change it. J
LOSS by Jackie Morse Kessler comes out March 20, 2012!
GIVEAWAY: One lucky commenter below will win a small cover poster of LOSS—and will be entered in the grand prize drawing! The grand prize winner will receive signed copies of HUNGER, RAGE and LOSS—and will get to name a character in BREATH, the fourth book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series. The grand prize winner will be picked on Sunday, April 1, 2012. No foolin’.