What’s In a Name?

I haven’t posted anything new for awhile, because I’ve been working flat out to finish the draft of my new novel before I head off to the UK on tour.  I finished the draft this afternoon, with more of a whimper than a bang.  I lay down for an hour–it’s physically strenuous, writing like a madwoman, and then went to rehearse for the Revels, which take place the last weekend in January. This year I play a fundraiser who sings the “Habanera” song from Carmen, warbling “L’argent,” instead of “L’Amour.”


My working title is Body Work, but I’m not a hundred percent happy with it.  Book names are funny.  Some come with the idea, as happened with Hardball and Bleeding Kansas.  Others come after the book is finished, like Bloodshot and Killing Orders.  Body Work–I’m not so sure.

The action of the book is about an Iraqi vet who suffers from PTSD.  He starts having violent outbursts at a nightclub, and, when a woman who also goes to this particular nightclub is shot and killed, the vet is arrested.  V I Warshawski is hired by the vet’s parents to clear his name.  At the center of the story is a performance artist whose act consists of appearing naked on stage and letting people draw on her.  She’s enigmatic, a figure of mystery.  She’s not part of the main action and yet her presence galvanizes all the disparate people who make up the book…the head of a Ukrainian organized crime syndicate…a civilian defense contractor doing business in Iraq…an immigrant family whose daughter is the person murdered at the nightclub.

With this small bit of information, try your hand at a title.  Remember, the V I titles are two words, with a double entendre.  If you come up with a title that works for the book, you will get a walk-on character named for you.

  • Crikey! I have trouble coming up with titles for my mundane little blog posts! As soon as I read your description of the performance artist allowing people to draw on her naked body, though, “Body Art” popped into my head……

    I’ll have to ponder this more!

    When does your UK tour start? (And I don’t suppose you need a half-crippled, mostly useless but sometimes mildly amusing personal assistant on the tour? *sigh* I didn’t think so.)

  • JN Welsh

    How about Battle Lines?

  • JN Welsh

    Or Flash Back? OK, I’ll stop now. I get obsessed with these things.

  • Nancy Stephani

    How about “Body Memories” or “Body Memory” This is a real phenomenon with PTSD – I am a clinical social worker in emergency services – and we see this frequently. We all have body memories – persons with PTSD have ones that are more horrific.

    Good luck – can’t wait to read it no matter what you call it!

    Nancy Stephani

  • Funny how you can write an eighty-thousand word novel relatively easily (note, I said relatively) and then struggle over one or two words for a title!

    My suggestions: ‘Overdrawn’ or ‘Draw Back’

    I hope you have a good tour.

  • Idzan Ismail, Kuala Limpur, Malaysia

    My suggestions: Body Bash, Body Craft, Body Graft or Body Graffiti.
    Ah well, whatever the title, you will come up with a best-seller. Waiting with bated breath. So far I can get only two of your books – Bleeding Kansas and Fire Sale.
    I love reading memoirs and American politics. Searching for your memoir Writing In An Age Of Silence. Nada. Will try to get it even if it takes a lifetime. Ordering through Amazon is too expensive for me. Now I am reading Ted Kennedy’s True Compass. It’s easily available here.

  • Shirley

    Killer Body??

  • Richard

    Perhaps “Flashback”?

  • Penny Thornton

    What about Body Craft? Pr Art Form?

  • Penny Thornton

    Sorry about the typo!! Meant OR Art Form.

  • This will sound really wet, but I think Body Work is great. Do reconsider.

    Bag Lady – if Sara needs an assistant like you described, I have to point out I’m closer. Or maybe we can share her and squabble under the table, or something?

  • genny from jersey

    The first thing that comes to mind is:
    “Unjust War”

  • genny from jersey

    Here’s a couple more ideas:
    War Zone
    No Peace
    Confronting Life
    Welcome Home
    Home Front

    these is only one word:

  • Idzan Ismail, Kuala Limpur, Malaysia

    I guess the Iraqi is Muslim and the Ukrainian is of Judaism faith.
    The apt title I rhink is Salaam, Shalom.
    (I thought of this when I woke up this morning. Whole night I have been thinking of it}

  • Bookwitch – but… but…. you’re already IN England, aren’t you?
    (sharing sounds like a good idea, though. As long as Sara doesn’t get pissed at us when we squabble under the table!)

  • pam newton

    “After Image”

    ……. though riffing on Vanda Symon’s suggestion of ‘Draw Back’ I also came up with “Draw Down”.

    Sounds like vintage Paretsky even in the short form.

  • Rick

    Based on the description given, I suggest “Bodies Count.”

  • John

    Ny suggestion is ‘Bodacious Life’

  • Bag Lady – were you just after a paid flight across the pond? Really. Or was it being driven round in a chauffeured car like the Queen that took your fancy?

    I’m nearest, so am cheaper. Though I gather Sara is being sent up the east coast and not west this year. She’s so nice I’m sure she’d not mind us being childish.

  • “Drawing Fire”?

  • Wendy

    how about “Stress Lines”.
    Love your books

  • Bookwitch – dang it. You saw through my nefarious plot to get a free ride. Or lunch. Or both. Whatever….. sigh.

    Guess we should stop hijacking Sara’s comment section, though, ’cause I’m pretty sure she isn’t going to hire either one of us, now!

    Sorry, Sara. We’ll behave now, we promise!

  • fd

    I quite like ‘Flashback’ but also think you should reconsider ‘Body Work’. It seemed very apt when I read your request first.

    Other ideas that came to mind:
    Art Corp.
    Body Corp.
    Memory Corp.

  • Camille

    Ink Tremors




    Indelible Lines


    Skin Zone

  • Camille

    or simply
    Indelible Ink
    (sorry for the excess spaces above)

  • Kerry

    Drawn Under? Blank Slate? (Tabula Rasa if VI does Latin?) Blank Canvas?

  • Patricia

    Just had a Southbank Cntr (London) newsletter informing of your Speaking gig there on February 18th. Very best on your UK tour (chagrined at being out the country at the time). You in Chicago are used to verrry cold winters, but this little Island has all but seized up lately in being covered in blankets of snow! Fingers (and legs) crossed that you arrive to hassle-free travel weather by February.

  • “Naked Truth”

    OK, for a male the performance artist’s dress code is most intriguing. But isn’t that V.I.’s credo as well?

  • Dave

    How about “naked fear” or naked anger”? Ah, as I’m writing I see Peter has already suggested something else along the same lines.

    Hope the visit to the UK goes well. We live in London but my wife comes from the north east so we may be able to catch you here or in Newcastle/Gateshead.

  • Double VIsion

    VI capitalized is a play on detective VI

  • Kristine M.

    Abstract Art, Master Strokes, Fugue State, Lost Causes.

    Thank you for the fun mind exercise!

  • Muted Body, Body muted, Worlds End

  • Deb Steppe

    Naked Truth

    It’s so good to be able to look forward to another book coming out. THANKS

  • Cate

    Working Body
    Skin Art
    Naked Fear (okay, so that one’s already taken)
    Stripped Clean
    Naked Grief
    Empty Solace
    Blank Slate (I rather like that one; goes well with many of the usual VI themes and has a multiplicity of entendres.)

  • J Victor

    Friendly Fire

  • Cherie

    Unstill Life

    the art reference, V.I’s chaaotic “ping pong” style, and the disruption PSTD has on the persons life.


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