I finally figured out this morning a working title for novel #4. In the original concept, the character discovers that she’s got nine lives, and the book follows her as she uses them one by one until, at the climax, she’s on her last life and has to decide whether to risk sacrificing it to save someone close to her or let them die. I called the character Catriona, shortened to Cat, as a play on her situation. I named the first saves of it “Nine Lives”, after this.
But it became pretty clear even from a few thousand words in, as the story started to take full shape in my head, that that wasn’t actually what the story is about. I finally figured out most of the larger story arc a few days ago, coming to me in that pantser way as a flash of intuition. While the character’s name is still Cat, she no longer has nine lives (but she does have a boy who can bring her back from near death). It turns out she’s a pawn in an interdimensional “game” of chess in which our human world is the chessboard. Each side is striving to get their pawns across the board; a queened pawn may well turn the tide of the game.
So I started trying to come up with some sort of chess reference. I wanted to use the name given to a pawn once it’s been queened… except there isn’t one, at least as far as I can find. The act of turning a pawn to a queen is called “queening”, which would have been fine except there’s a sexual act given this name and I didn’t really want those sorts of associations. I thought maybe just Pawn or Pawn to Queen or something like that. But then this morning I came up with Pawn to D8, describing the square of the chessboard that, once reached, the pawn will get queened at. It felt perfect right away, so that’s what I’ve settled on. Of course, publishers may still choose to change the title (if the book ever gets that far), but it’s set as the working title in the meantime. And while I started writing with the intention for this to be a standalone book, I’m increasingly getting the feeling it might need to be two; should that come to pass, the sequel could be called Queen to G6, or something like that.
As an aside, when I started writing The Opal Magestone, it began life as My Mother’s Magestone. I kinda liked the alliteration of that. But as the story developed and it was revealed that it’s not her mother’s, it’s her grandmother’s, the title didn’t work anymore. It became, for a while, My Grandmother’s Magestone, but I didn’t feel that flowed as well (too long), so it was then changed to The Opal Magestone. As it turned out this works quite well for sequel titles; books 2 and 3 (should they ever come to be) are tentatively titled The Silver Ring and The Midnight Cloak, following the items that are most central to the plot.