Friday, June 21, 2013

Why My Book Isn't Called Spying on The Neighbors - Kristen Kittscher Guest Post - June 2013

Kittscher, Kristen. Wig in the Window, The. HarperCollins Children's Books, 2013. 368p. $16.99, 9780062110503.

In The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher, we learn about two friends, Sophie Young and Grace Yang, who fancy themselves as FBI trainees.  They sneak out to spy late one night and come across a sight so gruesome it can only mean one thing: MURDER!  

Pick up your copy today! Affiliate Links: Amazon | Shop Indie or wherever it is you get books!  Check out my review.

Keep reading to get a glimpse into how Kirsten picked the TITLE for The Wig in the Window. Somehow she didn't go with my title - How to Spy on The Neighbors! Strange! 

I’m delighted to be continuing the blog tour for The Wig in the Window at The Brain Lair! Given the prying nature of my enterprising tween sleuths, Young & Yang, I’ve been taking you all behind-the-scenes for some top secret investigations into how a manuscript is turned into a real, live book.

We've already investigated what goes into Designing a Cover, Naming Characters, and the Editorial Process.

Today you'll get a peek at some of the behind-the-scenes silliness that went on as Harper Children’s and I decided upon a title. Somehow they weren't feeling the “Untitled Middle Grade” my manuscript sold under. Go figure!

We had a week to come up with a title in time for a key sales meeting. The task? Come up with something that would communicate “funny mystery,” but wouldn't sound too old-fashioned or wacky.

I’d been referring to the story as “Young & Yang” for as long as I could remember, so it was hard imagining something new. The entire week I appeared to be afflicted with a rare title-focused form of Tourette’s Syndrome. I’d sit down to a movie with my husband and suddenly erupt, “The Dubious Deeds of Dr. A!” or “The Luna Vista Lunacy!” (Poor man.)

I ran around “testing” titles with my students, none of whom had actually read the manuscript."It should have "massacre" in it," said one eleven year old. "Definitely 'massacre.'"
Kittscher's crazy brainstorm notes on possible titles

A writing friend's two kids turned one title suggestion, The Trouble with Dr. A, into a catchy song to
the tune of "Another One Bites the Dust," which they ran around singing for days. Desperate, I even roped poor unsuspecting friends into a book-titling dinner party that quickly devolved into general hilarity. Among the suggestions? The very catchy “Dude, What’s Wrong with My Guidance Counselor?” or, more to the point, “Dr. Agford: WTF?” A guest nostalgic for 70s detective shows was pushing hard for “The Agford Files.”

During the peak of title fever, I had a dream my editor told me she had the perfect title for the book. She smiled triumphantly and announced the book would be called BOTTOMS IN THE MIDDLE. (Surprisingly somewhat fitting, considering a character named Trista Bottoms dives a wedge in Young & Yang’s friendship.) “Hm,” I replied in the dream, surprised by my own calm. “It doesn't really say mystery to me.”

We certainly had a good laugh over that one. In the end, I provided four favorite titles and a list in descending order of other ideas—including many ridiculous ones. Near the end, I crammed various nonsense onto the list, including the question, “Are you still reading these?” In my email along with the lists, I explained I was just providing fodder for ideas, adding:

“To be clear, should you come back and say, "We just love 'Booby-trapping Dr. Bigwig!' That's the one!" I might require medical attention, but then I can discuss variations, etc.”

Associate editor Andrea Martin replied:

We’re giggling over them, and yes, we read all the way to the end:) We’ll narrow down the options to our favorites and will run them by our editorial director and Sales to make sure that we wind up with one that everyone likes. And as hilarious as “Booby-Trapping Dr. Bigwig” is, I don’t think it’s going to make the cover, so you can rest easy.
What would work as first in a series?

These were my thoughts on the title The Wig in the Window, which I presented as one of my top picks, along with The Trouble with Dr. A.

Pros: Wig! Who doesn't want to buy something with "wig" in the title! Wig = fakeness, too -- which I think kids respond to. I think it lends itself to a very good cover that is still potentially Rear Window-esque. Alliteration makes it catchy. The phrase is mysterious and a bit spooky and funny at the same time.

Cons: doesn't lend itself to a series

Funny that I couldn’t see the potential for all the headgear and architectural features variations! I happen to be working on The Tiara on the Terrace right now…and who knows, maybe The Beret on the Balcony is in Young & Yang’s future!

Hope you enjoyed this peek at some behind-the-scenes silliness. As of June 18, you can judge for yourself whether The Wig in the Window is a fitting title. The book is available at your local independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

About the Author
Kristen Kittscher was a child neighborhood spy but (allegedly) grew up to be an upstanding citizen and middle school English teacher. A graduate of Brown University, she now works as a writing tutor in Pasadena, California where she lives with her husband, Kai, and their hyperactive lab mix. The Wig in the Window is her first novel. Visit to investigate more about her and Young & Yang’s next adventure, The Tiara on the Terrace.


  1. Ha! Love this. I'm brainstorming titles now--and going through the EXACT same actions--spewing titles at random moments, testing on students, with friends, but what got me was the DREAM. I had one too. I dreamt my editor at Harper suggested, "Feathers of the Feign." And I thought--how do I tell her I don't get that?

    Thanks again for sharing!

  2. I just thought of another sequel name: The Porkpie on the Porch! Thanks for posting this, Kathy :D I am loving all the behind-the-scenes glimpses.


Thanks for chatting! I love comments and look forward to reading yours! I may not reply right away, but I am listening! Keep reading and don't forget to be awesome!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Saturday Stories kit by Lien