The Carbon Trail leads to the Bingergread Cottage.

Catriona King, colleague and friend, has a new book in her Craig series out today so I was glad she could spare the time to come over and chat for a bit. I’m just going to get the tea and I asked her to tell us how she comes up with titles when writing such a long series. Back in a mo!

Hello Ailsa

Thank you so much for having me here for afternoon tea and to talk about my new book ‘The Carbon Trail’. I’ve brought you an Easter Egg, although I know that it’s a little bit early 🙂

I thought I would talk about the challenges of selecting the correct book title as well as my new book.



How do authors choose the titles for their books? Do they select random words from the story and link them, or do they choose a phrase from the text that encapsulates what the book is about? What if the random words don’t make any sense or the phrase gives just a little too much away, unless it’s done tongue in cheek? (‘The Butler did it’?). Is it better to use a book title to explain a story or for it to be more mysterious, with the risk that the reader will be put off? Should we use plain English or choose words from foreign climes or languages long dead?

Or is it better to just ‘stick to the knitting’ as they say in the business world, and signpost the way clearly, as Shakespeare did in the play ‘Julius Caesar’, leaving no ambiguity about its theme? Or did that title only work because of the weight of history? What if ‘The Merchant of Venice’ had been ‘The Shopkeeper of Bognor’?Would it have had quite the same ring?

And what of geography and time? Is it necessary or good to give a hint of the story’s location or timing in the title? There are some excellent examples where that works well, when the romance and beauty of a place or season adds to the book’s allure. Jane Bywe’s ‘Breath of Africa’ and Michela O’Brien’s ‘A Summer of Love’ to name but two. But what of Bognor again? Would ‘Romance in Bognor’ carry quite the same ring? A book’s title is a finely judged thing and not everyone gets it right.

So then, is it better to play safe, and call your book something that simply indicates its genre, such as ‘Murder in…’ or ‘Love in…’? Instantly telling the world that the book is about crime or romance. There are titles that conjure up a genre subtly, such as the fantasy novel ‘Alchemy’ by Ailsa Abraham. The title ‘Alchemy’ gives a clue to the fact that the book holds mystery and fantasy, without giving everything away. In fact the myths that surround the word Alchemy themselves add more allure.

What if your book title matches another book with the same name or part of it? Is that good or bad? One of my Craig Crime Series is called ‘The Visitor’ and there have been other books with the same name. I knew that when I named the book but it was the only title that really seemed to fit. It doesn’t appear to have done ‘The Visitor’ any harm as the book is in both the book and kindle charts.

Why did I name my standalone novel set in New York, ‘The Carbon Trail’? Is the actual phrase somewhere in the book? No, but following a trail of clues and deceit is part of what the book is about. What does the title mean? Nothing, if we’re being literal, but it borders on several themes in the book. Carbon makes up 100% of diamonds and 20% of a human being and it leads to love and a discovery that could alter the fate of mankind. How did I name ‘The Carbon Trail’? Did I ponder over it late at night, trying to find the words that would best sum up the story in just one line? No. Believe it or not I dreamt the title and when I woke up one morning it was just there.

And that’s the thing. There is no perfect formula to finding a book title; there is only instinct and luck. And the hope that when the reader lifts the book from the shelf, real or virtual, that the combination of title and cover will make them want to look inside. Let’s allow the story to do the rest.


THE CARBON TRAIL: THE MIND HAS NO LIMITS. Released in paperback and e-book on April 15th.

Catriona’s Links

The Carbon Trail on

The Carbon Trail on AmazonUK

The Craig Crime Series on

The Craig Crime Series on AmazonUK

Catriona’s website:

Catriona on Twitter:




Catriona King is a doctor who was raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland and moved to central London to live and work as a Doctor, where she trained as a police Forensic Medical examiner. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police on many occasions, and encountered many fascinating people and situations in both Belfast and London.
In recent years, she has returned to live and work in Belfast, basing her Craig Crime Series in the streets of modern Belfast and Northern Ireland.

Five books in the Craig Series have been released in paperback and e-book and books six and seven, called ‘The Slowest Cut’ and ‘The Coercion Key’ respectively will be released in June and August 2014.

Catriona’s standalone thriller set in New York City called ‘The Carbon Trail’ is due for release in April 2014. It is an action-packed espionage thriller.

Catriona is very involved in Belfast’s dynamic arts scene is the founder/director of Belfast’s Studio Theatre Company. She is active on both Facebook and Twitter where she actively engages about her books. Everything about Catriona and her books can be found on her website


And now – we are going to finish our tea and share out the Easter egg – so you  go off and make comments please or buy Catriona’s book. If you haven’t started the series yet, I can recommend them.



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