A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Emma Carroll: What’s in a name…

Thinking up a story title is, for me, a really important part of a novel’s incarnation. It’s something I like to get nailed pretty early on in the writing process because it can have a significant impact on how that story develops. So far, thanks to those lovely people at Faber, I’ve chosen the final titles for each of my books. Though they weren’t always my first choices, as I’ll explain.


17846874Frost Hollow Hall

In it’s very very early stages, this had the working title of ‘Our Beloved Kit’. Then, in the tradition of stories set in epic houses, I decided to name it after the place where most of the action took place. Very quickly the house became a character in it’s own right. In contrast, Kit Barrington’s role was limited to that of a cipher for the memories and emotions of others.



The Girl Who Walked On Air

My second book kept its working title much longer than FHH, which meant the change took rather longer to get used to. I’d called the story ‘Little Miss Blondin’, which is Louie’s stage name and in keeping with how many C19th tightrope walkers identified themselves with the celebrated Niagara Falls daredevil Charles Blondin. However, Faber felt the title only worked if readers knew who Blondin was. So, I went back to a list of potential titles I’d made very early on in the project- The Girl Who Walked on Air was among them. And BOOM! We had a title everyone agreed on.


B9-GJedIYAEwbMQIn Darkling Wood

When this novel was just an idea in my head, I wanted to call it The Chime Child. Yet very quickly into the writing process, and for similar reasons to FHH, that name changed to In Darkling Wood. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a sucker for stories with strong settings. They’re great fun to write, they create atmosphere, influence a character’s behaviour, give the reader a real sense of time and place. As for the word ‘darkling’, well, I was pretty determined to get it into the title somehow!


26211739The Snow Sister

Strangely, for the first draft this didn’t have a title. Then, as I was thinking about how to make the story more complex, I thought of the daft nickname my best mate and I call each other by- yes, we’re both complete snow nerds and call ourselves ‘ Snow sisters’. The book is dedicated to him. Changing the title made me think more about Pearl and how she might remember her sister, and the plot really took off from that point.


Strange Star

My next book for Faber gets its name from a Mary Shelley quote, where she refers to the part fate played in her life, and to a comet that was in the sky at her birth. My story tells the tale of that famous night at the Villa Diodati where the idea for Frankenstein was conceived- but from a child servant’s perspective. Fate, superstition, science are all major themes in the book. Because I was set on the title Strange Star, I also needed a comet. Yet there was no comet over Europe during the summer of 1816, so I did what all writers do- I invented one!


attachmentEmma Carroll
Emma Carroll writes MG fiction. Her debut ‘Frost Hollow Hall’, a Victorian ghost story, won the North East Book Award 2013 and was longlisted for the Branford Boase. Her second novel ‘The Girl Who Walked On Air’ has been nominated for the CILIP medal. Her latest book ‘In Darkling Wood’ is inspired by the Cottingley Fairies photographs, and publishes with Faber in July 2015. In another life she wishes she’d written ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier. Emma lives in the Somerset hills with her husband and two terriers.




This entry was posted on December 4, 2015 by .

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