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    Philippa East

    Hi guys,

    Titles are important, right, and annoyingly, I haven’t yet found the right one for my novel (I mean, it’s only been 3 years).

    I know this will be really tricky for you guys, having not read the thing, but I wonder if you could help me at all to brainstorm ideas? I’ve outlined where I’m at below.

    The elevator pitch of the the novel is: “A missing child is found alive seven years after her abduction. But what if the loving family she returns home to are not as blameless as they seem?”

    I would describe the book as a family drama with some elements of a psychological thriller, and a moral question at it’s centre. It’s written in a fairly pacy style, but with a strong focus on the family bonds, responsibilities, emotions and relationships. It is told from the alternating POVs of the girl’s mother and the girl’s same-age cousin (she is 15). The mother’s arc is a redemption story; the cousin’s arc is coming-of-age.

    Maybe… Jodi Picault meets Liane Moriaty?

    Key themes / words are:
    parent / child roles, childhood, adulthood, parenthood
    (false) perfection, happy endings
    lies, secrets, truth
    guilt / innocence

    The current title is: Here Ends an Abduction.

    Feedback from agent Sarah is that we need to change this title (and I totally agree). Her comment is: “[my feeling] is that ‘abduction’ in the title feels too violent and harsh. I like the ‘here ends’ idea, but I do think we need to come up with something that is intriguing and emotive but not quite as harsh.”

    So, if you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them… Thank-you for all brainstorming suggestions.


    In my head I am wanting to focus on the seven years. Seven is a highly symbolic number. Seven year itch, seven colours of the rainbow. Seven seconds, seventh son of a seventh son. Seven deadly sins, seven horcruxes if you like Harry Potter. I think it’s the first “difficult” number for children to master in multiplication. She’s been gone seven years, from age eight. Hmm, nothing’s coming right now, but I’m definitely feeling 7. Tell us more about the girl who is abducted? What’s she like before, during, and after? What’s her arc? What quirks and oddities does she possess?

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by Jonathan.
    Philippa East

    Yes, abducted aged 8, now 15. She grew up enmeshed with her cousin – they were like twins in a fairy-tale. She is blonde, her cousin brunette. Otherwise, an unstable childhood; her biological dad is estranged. Brought up by her step-dad since aged 4, and has twin half-brothers (now aged 7).

    Philippa East

    During the abduction, she believed her family had abandoned her. Now that she has returned, she doesn’t know whom to trust, or where her “real” home is. She clings to cousin Jess, she mistrusts the adults, in the end she turns on her cousin too (bit of an all-is-lost moment there, before the end).


    A few initial ideas – not sure if they are anything like suitable:

    She once was lost

    But now she’s found

    (Been playing Amazing Grace…)

    Re-filling the nest

    Stolen childhood


    Interesting one. Titles can be hard. Sometimes a really perfect one will just present itself. Other times…

    I was looking, as I’m sure you have, at a thesaurus to see if it was possible to simply replace ‘abduction’. The best I could do was ‘Here Ends the Absence’, or possibly ‘Here Ends the Departure’ which I’m not sure really does it.


    I like the ‘Here Ends…’, but what to say is ending.

    …the Seven Years of Pain
    …the Seven Years of Separation.
    Why not something like Seven Years Apart or The seven years of separation. The End Begins Here…? Just playing now!

    I also wonder if some of the other themes are more relevant to the title? There are an awful lot of themes going on – if you could pick just one or two, what would it be?

    I’ve also got a creative exercise I could mail you with, where you let your subconscious find the way to the answer… I blogged about it in my Wolves and Apples post on the Scribbles. Worked for me, in that it pointed me away from the person to the central power in the story. (Still got to actually work out the title though!)

    Alan Rain

    I think, Philippa, you’ve come near to a good title yourself in your post above. How about:

    I have a thing for 1-word titles.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by Alan Rain.

    Maybe “Seven Years Gone?” Just simple and kind of … vaguely … title-ish? Or maybe just her name. Or what about those title generators or standard methods for titling a book, eg this? Or maybe something that could be a quote at the moment of change that hints at the situation: “Abby Smith Is Hiding” or something.


    Hi Philippa, ‘Lost and Found?’ with or without the question mark, popped into my mind, I think because of the railway scene in your story. Perhaps if you simply included a question mark in your current title it would convey that the abduction is still haunting the family. Also, I really like Jonathan’s idea of using the number seven in the title.


    Hi Philippa,

    From all the information gathered I would suggest:

    – Missing You (works on several level depending on who the sentence refers to or who us doing the miss – if that makes sense)

    – The Other You

    – The Way Home (again can be interpreted on several levels)

    – Little Girl Lost (again lost can be interpreted on several levels)

    – Here Ends the Innocence or The End of Innocence

    For me ‘Seven’ just reminds me of the film and also makes me think of Thirteen which was a series but covers a similar subject.


    You talk about bonds and use the term ‘enmeshed’ so I’m going for The Untangling.

    Philippa East

    Oh my goodness, guys, what great suggestions! I will check out those links too.

    , I’d love to take a look at your exercise if you can send it?

    The focus for the book is about whether and how a family can truly reconcile after such a trauma, and what level of culpability a family must ultimately shoulder. Much time in the book is spent in characters covering over flaws and struggling to confront guilt.


    I keep coming back to the words enmeshing/unmeshing. For me that feels really evocative of family tendrils, the way the brain works (especially in cases of forming, breaking and reforming connections). – it makes me think of a web and a net and a loosening of patterns. Don’t know how you might use it but I love that word!
    Enmeshing Seven / Unmeshing Seven
    Seven Enmeshed /Seven Unmeshed
    The Enmeshing / Unmeshing (also love Sea’s The Untangling)

    Not sure about any of those, just throwing things out there.

    (Funnily enough, I’ve had exactly the same feedback from agent about my book title – I’m going to copy you and start a thread for help as I’m struggling too…:-) )


    @alanr – just saw that I basically suggested the same as you!



    An Uneasy Homecoming.
    After the Happy Ending.
    The Missing Years.
    Breaking apart.


    A Cuckoo in the Nest?

    Hmm. Possibly a bit of a cliché, but the image seems apt.

    John S Alty

    Tangled Web (A, The, What a, Weaving a,)
    Untangled Web

    Philippa East

    Thanks guys! I’m going to try and draw up a shortlist for Sarah today…

    I really appreciate all the help

    Philippa East

    Hi guys,

    To update: the title Sarah and I have decided on (for now) is….

    After We Found Her

    What’s in a name, eh?


    That works. Nice and simple!


    Sounds good. Plenty of things said and unsaid in there. Of course, now you’ve spent ages deciding on that, your editor will definitely want to change it again!!


    I like it. As @raine said it strikes the right balance of things said and unsaid.


    Yes, great title, Philippa. It’s both concise and intriguing.

    Philippa East

    Glad you guys like it! Thanks again for all your helpful input on this. Titles clearly aren’t my forte….

    Alan Rain

    Okay, good. No more indecision.


    Yes, that’s good. Intriguing, suggestive and evocative. Well done, that’s a relief! 🙂

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