What’s in a Title?
I was a year into writing The Keeper of Dawn and still didn’t have a title. After another six months rolled by, desperation began to creep in. Naming a work of fiction is its own kind of art form. And when a writer is slugging through a rough draft, they are often too close to the details to have a fair shot at coming up with a worthy title.
My first working title was Surrogate Island. But it wasn’t long before this fell out of favor. The word—surrogate—was too guttural. And the title was too blatant in calling out the surrogate bonds that form at boarding schools. But it was better than nothing, and I kept it around long after a few of my friends delicately mentioned that they weren’t entirely thrilled with it.
My epiphany came in the unlikeliest of places—my morning commute. I was stuck in rush hour traffic listening to New Slang by The Shins when these lyrics came over the radio:
God speed all the bakers at dawn, may they all cut their thumbs,
And bleed into their buns 'till they melt away.
I misunderstood the first line to be: God speed all the makers of dawn. Those words—makers of dawn—kept repeating in my head long after my commute was over. I eventually derived Keepers of Dawn from that phrase for its symbolism of both the lighthouse keepers' plight, as well as the crux of the story—that unspeakable dread that Jacob wrestles with throughout the narrative.