An author weighs in on title changes
Ian Rankin's Fleshmarket Close became Fleshmarket Alley in the U.S., presumably because American readers might not know that a close was an alley or closed space. Olen Steinhauer's 36 Yalta Boulevard and Liberation Movements became The Vienna Assignment and The Istanbul Variations in the U.K. And Adrian Hyland's Diamond Dove will be called Moonlight Downs in the United States because his American publisher's list already included Peter Lovesey's Diamond Dust.
Matt Rees, both of whose titles were changed for publication in the United Kingdom, says his U.K. publishers thought The Collaborator of Bethlehem sounded more like a thriller than a mystery. The book appears in the U.K. as The Bethlehem Murders. Rees had the following to say about title changes:
"In the U.K., they've also changed the title for the second book in the series, which will be out in February. In the U.S., they're using my original title, which is A Grave in Gaza. In the U.K., it'll be called The Saladin Murders. In this case, it's because the U.K. publisher thought Gaza conjured up an image of news, nonfiction rather than fiction. I came up with Saladin Murders because theExcessive newsiness and local resonance: two more reasons for publishers to change a novel's title. What other reasons can you think of for a publisher to make such a change? What is the weirdest such reason?
main road through the entire length of the Gaza Strip, along which much of the action of the novel takes place, is called the Saladin Road. It's certainly a bit confusing.
"Now that my novels are appearing in a number of other languages, it's quite difficult to hold the titles in my head, as different countries choose titles which resonate in their own languages. In Italy and Spain, it's called The Teacher of Bethlehem, in German, Dutch and Portuguese The Traitor of Bethlehem."
© Peter Rozovsky 2008
Matt Beynon Rees