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Saturday, July 30, 2011

On Titles

When I wrote the first book in my Konigsburg series for Samhain, I really hadn’t thought much about the subsequent ones. All I was really thinking about was how much I liked the title: Venus In Blue Jeans. For those who don’t recognize it, that’s a fifties song by Jimmy Clanton. The song itself is fairly dumb, as many fifties songs are. But I thought the title and concept were cool, and they worked very well with my heroine, a somewhat zaftig redhead who the hero thought was built like Botticelli’s Venus.

Once I had the song title thing going, though, I stuck with it. The second book in the series was Wedding Bell Blues, a song by the Fifth Dimension in the sixties. Since the book was about a wedding from hell, it seemed appropriate.

Book number three was Be My Baby, which has been recorded by everybody from The Ronettes to Linda Ronstadt (a really lovely lullaby version). The book was a thriller in which the hero and heroine fight off a nasty kidnapper, so again it seemed to fit.

I wanted to call book number four Kisses Sweeter Than Wine because the heroine manages a winery, but, alas, another author at Samhain had already beaten me to it. I undertook a frenzied two-day search through the song lists at iTunes, looking through songs about wine (around 500), songs about home (around 800), and songs about loneliness. But nothing really struck me. Then I was going through some road songs and I hit Long Time Gone. There are at least three different songs with that title, but I was sort of leaning more toward the Dixie Chicks version. My hero is someone who’s trying to make amends for his rotten adolescence, winning back the trust of his family and his belief in himself. The title just seemed appropriate.

Book number five had a working title even I thought was kind of weak: Java Jive. The heroine was trying to open a coffee roaster in Konigsburg, and that was the only coffee-related song I could find. My editor asked for something else and I headed back to iTunes again. The book is really about transformations—the heroine goes from being an uptight corporate type to being a honky tonk princess, and the hero changes from professional gambler to upright businessman (well, sort of—he owns a bar). I dug through a lot of transformation songs and finally settled on Brand New Me, a lovely Dusty Springfield anthem from the sixties.

And now book number six is on the horizon. It too went through a name change, although only in my head. Originally I called it Heartbreaker because the hero and heroine have gone through a break-up and are tentatively approaching each other again. But then I heard Harry Nielsen’s haunting Don’t Forget Me, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Book six has been Don’t Forget Me ever since.

Using song titles for books probably seems a lot easier than making up a title from thin air, and I guess it is in some ways. But it’s not exactly a no-brainer. Still, anything that gives you an excuse to listen to music is fine with me, particularly if it also involves coffee, wine, or barroom brawls!

Meg Benjamin writes about South Texas, although she now lives in Colorado. Her comic romances from Samhain Publishing are set in the Texas Hill Country in the mythical town of Konigsburg. Meg’s Web site is You can follow her on Facebook ( and Twitter ( Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at


CAB said...

I not only love the titles, but also the books. I can't wait until Don't Forget Me comes out. Do you have #7 in your mind yet?

Meg Benjamin said...

I do, but I'm holding off on doing anything until number 6 is actually signed, sealed and delivered!

Laura Ann Dunks said...

Songs for titles - what an excellent idea! I love the Dixie Chicks version of Long Time Gone too!

Laura xxx

Meg Benjamin said...

Well, it's worked for me and Susan Elizabeth Phillips! LOL

Mara said...

Thanks for sharing how you found the titles of your books. Neat idea.

marajbrandon AT earthlink DOT net

Toni said...

What a great idea!! Just think everytime someone hears that song they will think of your book. Well once they have enjoyed it the first time, of course.


Anonymous said...

What a fun way to pick titles!

User1123 AT comcast DOT net

Meg Benjamin said...

It does give you a great excuse to listen to music--it's all research!

Robin said...

I love how you've named the books in your series!

Robin D
robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

Na said...

I can see how a song title can inspire a story even if the actual story is nothing like the song. When I listen to music I connect the oddest things but in a good way. I'm glad music played a role in helping you find titles. I know if I ever come across a book titled after a song I like I'm going to take a second look out of curiosity.