Journalist me: why did you choose The Goose Road as the title for your book?
Author me: I wrote the story under the working title of The Butterfly’s Wing, which is a metaphor I borrowed from the founder of modern chaos theory, Edward Lorenz, who once asked, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” in order to explore the mathematics of how microscopic disturbances in complex systems like the weather have immense knock-on effects.
In my original story, the actions of my protagonist, Angelique Lacroix, caused terrible, unintended consequences, but my editor at Walker felt that was too cruel to her as a character, and too shocking to the readers, so I let this element of the plot sink beneath the surface in later edits. That meant The Butterfly’s Wing didn’t work as a title anymore.
So your editor told you to change both the book and the title?
She asked me to change them, yes. But that’s one of the great things about working with an editor: they see things in your story that you don’t. They also understand the readership with their readers far better than a debut author. Also, I absolutely agreed with her that there’s no point whatsoever in having a title you have to explain to the reader. That defeats the whole point of a metaphor.
Where did The Goose Road come from, then?
I’d read a lot of First World War fiction and poetry while researching the background to the story. The Western Front in 1916 was a terrible place to be. The full weight of industrial-scale artillery shell production was crashing down on soldiers of both sides. So for the new title I went back to the soldier-poets for inspiration.
In 2014, the Imperial War Museums had published a wonderful collection called First World War Poems from the Front, edited by Paul O’Prey. I drew up a long list of possible titles from imagery in these poems.
Read the rest of the original guest blog via this link: Myths, mistakes & other inner debates about naming The Goose Road