I’m one of those writers that really puts a lot of thought into titles and double meanings…even if I’m the only one who knows about them. I know what you’re thinking. Blood in the Past? Blood in the Paint? Those seem like pretty literal titles. They are and they aren’t. Blood in the Past not only refers to the blood that was shed in each of the characters’ pasts, but it also refers to their blood/familial relations. In addition, each character makes their own “blood pact” of sorts between their selves and their lost love one. Like I said, I’m sure no one picked up on those meanings, but it meant a lot to me to include them. In fact, Blood in the Past was originally a working title that I decided to keep because these additional meanings could be attributed to it.
Similarly, Blood in the Paint not only refers to Lyla’s method of adding a syringe-full of her victims’ blood to the red paint she uses, but it also refers to a portrait she mentions having done of her father. Again, a blood relation connection.
Now that you know how kooky I am with titles, you won’t be surprised to learn I’m the same way with chapter titles. After I write the entire manuscript and go through it a few times, I read it again and highlight certain phrases that I might like to use as the chapter titles, making sure that each phrase has a meaning all its own–in relation to the chapter–when it’s out of context. Here are some examples, consider them teasers:
- Chapter 2: Lie There and Die. Lyla feels that’s all her victim can do, but really she kills that way because that’s all her mom had been able to do.
- Chapter 4: Blood for Blood. Lyla justifies her trophies, and the meaning of the series title is explained.
- Chapter 8: Chasing After the Ghost. Brighthouse feels like he’s chasing the ghost of his father’s approval, but in reality he’s chasing the ghost of a very silent killer.
- Chapter 12: Drifting and Bobbing. The phrase refers to a bundle of balloons, but also to Lyla’s control, and how she’s struggling to maintain it.
- Chapter 16: The Anchor in His Stomach. Brighthouse feels a weight in his stomach over the unsolved murders, and wishes for his father’s instincts. But the anchor is a symbol of stability and strength and Brighthouse just needs to believe in himself.
- Chapter 18: An Impromptu Centerpiece. In the text, it refers to the flowers CJ has given Lyla, but CJ is himself an ‘impromptu centerpiece,’ caught between Lyla and Brighthouse.
- Chapter 21: Cleaner of Body But Not of Mind. Jillian washes her hands, but Lyla is focused on scrubbing something else in a different room.
- Chapter 31: Collateral Damage. Lyla loathes collateral damage, but the reader knows her mother was collateral damage–as is every one of Lyla’s victims thereafter, having not directly wronged Lyla and only playing a role in her twisted sense of justice.
- Chapter 35: A Sliver of Light. In the darkness, armed with only a slender flashlight, some light is finally shed on the truth of Lyla’s past.
- Chapter 36: A Dangling Key. Brighthouse and his partner see not only a key on Lyla’s anklet, but a possible key to solving their case.
- Chapter 44: Past All of It. Lyla is looking past tangible things, but also looking past her present and toward her future.
- Chapter 47: Unknown. Refers to an incessant caller to Brighthouse’s cell phone, but an identity possibly unknown to the reader is about to be revealed.
- Chapter 52: Traces of Blood. Doesn’t just refer to blood the life-substance, but blood relations are discovered.
- Chapter 55: A Tree with Many Branches. Brighthouse’s captain uses this phrase as a metaphor for their case, but it’s actually a metaphor for the series’ entire storyline and how each of the characters are connected.
- Chapter 58: Sever Ties. Much more than ties are severed; that’s all I can say!
- Chapter 59: Her Final Moments. Lyla is thinking of her mother’s final moments, but she should be worried more about her own.
- Chapter 60: Blood in the Paper. Refers to a bloody newspaper, but–SURPRISE–it’s also the title of the next book in the series!