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What’s in a Name?

The Many Loves of Benjamin Bentley: A cover from an alternate realityLast week, a handful of people happened to ask why I decided to name Something Like Summer what I did. To me, this coincidence was the cosmos saying “Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!” And explain I will.

I’ve often said I’d rather write an entire book than a single synopsis. The same applies to choosing a title for a book. It’s so incredibly hard to sum up an entire story with just a few words. Impossible, really, so the best you can do is create an evocative title that makes a potential reader want to learn more. The working title of Something Like Summer was The Many Loves of Benjamin Bentley. A little long, but I liked it. Originally I planned on showing many more of Ben’s failed relationships, but then Tim and Jace ended up hogging the book. I was tempted to use the title anyway, until The Mysterious Case of Benjamin Button came out. Thieving Hollywood bastards! Suddenly I needed a new title. Thus began a month of me pestering anyone that would listen: Friends over email and phone, the checkout lady at the grocery store, and even Andreas in the bedroom. Inevitably, each clever title we thought up was already taken.

Not a romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-LevittThen inspiration struck. Twelve Years of Summer. Perfect! Or so I thought. As a professional hermit, I don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the world. My editor saved me/broke my spirit when she informed me of a recent movie called (500) Days of Summer. This time Hollywood had beat me to the punch. Their title was just close enough to make me appear a copycat—or worse—that I had written a parody. Back to the drawing board. I ate psychedelic mushrooms, fasted except for chewing gum, and conversed solely with small pebbles. Then I came up with it. Something Like Summer. But what does it mean? I recently posed this question on Twitter, and these are some of the replies:

@WanderingReclus (MacKenzie Stewart) said: “I thought the title meant to symbolize the heat and intensity of Ben and Tim’s relationship.”

@ladykatana70 (Stacia Hess) added: “because it makes you hot and sweaty..lol”

These two responses show why I wanted “summer” in the title. Summer conjures up visions of passion, heat, and sweat. The book is more romantic than erotic, but these associations also apply to intense emotion. But does the title mean more? Here are more responses:

@rolypolywoly (Alan) said: “Thought it might be ‘Something Like Summer’ ’cause the summer Ben & Tim meet is a starting point that reverberates through the story.”

@TaylorSalley (Taylor Salley) said: “Because summer is something really good that we all have a hard time letting go of. Much like Ben and Tim’s relationship.”

Leave a question for the reader to answer, and chances are, they’ll come up with something brilliant. I love the symbolism that these readers picked up on. I’m tempted to lie and say that’s exactly what I intended. My answer is much simpler. To me, summer is the time of year that I feel the best, both physically and emotionally. Perfect blue sky days when the sun warms my skin and makes the world beautiful—those summer moments make me feel sixteen again. There’s only one other thing that makes me feel so blissfully content. Love is something like summer.

There it is, my personal interpretation of the title, but that doesn’t make it true. The book has been set free and is out there in the world, romping through fields of imagination that no longer belong to me, and that’s how it should be. The title means what you want it to mean, and the story now belongs to you.




Er… Not legally of course. ;)

 
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13 Comments  comments 

13 Responses

  1. BigFan

    Something Like Summer is a perfect title for the book and story. :)

    So have you decided on a sequel yet? Hehe.

    • I’ve jotted down some ideas for a sequel, but I’m still working on some other projects at the moment. :)

      • Eric

        I think your sequel will sell as well as SLS. How many copies have you sold so far? I guess the number should be close to 100k?

        • If I’d sold 100,000 copies already, I’d be typing this message from my mansion. :D Something Like Summer has done very well for a self-published novel though, even if I don’t have a private jet yet.

          • Eric

            Jay, you need to learn from what Stephanie Meyer did for her Twilight Saga.

            1. Expand Ben and Tim’s storie into a trilogy (high school/college/adulthood).

            2. Appeal to teenage girls’s fantacy of gay guys.

            3. Try to find a movie deal for the book.

            After these, you will be rolling in it.

  2. To me, summer is the time of year that I feel the best, both physically and emotionally. Perfect blue sky days when the sun warms my skin and makes the world beautiful—those summer moments make me feel sixteen again. There’s only one other thing that makes me feel so blissfully content. Love is something like summer.

    It’s a great title and that’s a beautiful reason behind it. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Eric

    Summer is the favorite season of most people. Once you live through a summer, how could you love the other three seasons as much?

    After Tim, how could Ben love anyone as much as he loved Tim? It’s a curse. If your first love is so perfect, it’s difficult to fall in love again. Your standard has been raised to such a high level.

    Quoting Shakespeare: “How could you fall in love with the moon after you saw the sun first?”

  4. For some reason I was thinking this was a teen novel… I just downloaded it to review on my blog, but now I’m thinking it is not. :-)

    I’m looking forward to reading SLS. It’s been on my Kindle wish list for a while.

    Jenna

    • Hi Jenna! The first half of the book takes place in high school, so it has teenage characters up until that point. Past that, it deals with adults. Or maybe you mean teen appropriate? I’m not sure how I would categorize it then. You be the judge. ;) Regardless, I hope you enjoy!

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