Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How Author Susin Nielsen Came Up With The Title for "Optimists Die First"

How I Came Up With The Title for “Optimists Die First” by Susin Nielsen

Some of my titles have come effortlessly for me, like Word Nerd and Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom. Others, like We Are All Made of Molecules, came to me mid-way through writing the novel, like an epiphany, like I was writing towards it but just didn’t know it yet.

Optimists Die First was another ball of wax entirely. My first draft of the manuscript was very different from the end product, and the original title was about as good as that first draft was – meaning, not good at all. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you, but here goes. It was called This is the Soundtrack of My Life. At that point it was a schmaltzier book, and oddly, in spite of four books under my belt, it was as if I hadn’t yet Susin-ized it.

Thankfully I have amazing editors and they slowly helped guide me toward the story I had within me. The manuscript got better, but I still didn’t have a title. Then, in spring of 2015, I was on a book tour with my friend, the fantastic YA novelist Susan Juby. We got to talking about Goodreads one day; about how it’s such a dangerous site to visit as an author. If you read ten reviews of your book and nine are great and one is crap, it’s the crap one you remember. And Susan said it was because we’re programmed that way, from an evolutionary point of view; to be on the alert for the out of the ordinary, the warning signs, because it might save your life (an example: You’re at the beach one day, and the water dramatically recedes, the birds stop singing, the beach is calm and beautiful – an optimist would think “how lovely.” A pessimist would think: tsunami). This stuck with me, and I did some online research when I got home and discovered studies have been done that show that pessimists tend to live longer than optimists, because they don’t take as many risks. That’s when the new title popped into my head, and I knew it was “the one.”

About the Book:

Is the glass half full or half empty? For Petula De Wilde, sixteen years of life has proven that the glass is most definitely half empty. Ever since tragedy struck her family, she’s learned to see potential danger everywhere – whether it’s crossing the road or eating a poached egg. Petula’s determined not to let her guard down, even if this means allowing herself to be ruled by anxiety and grief, and giving up her best friend, Rachel.
Then the Bionic Man walks into her therapy group. Strikingly tall and confident, Jacob has survived a different disaster, lost an arm, and still come out smiling. At first Petula is repelled by his outgoing optimism, but even she can’t deny their chemistry together. Soon, her barriers come crashing down.
But optimism – and love – are blind. And Petula is heading full speed into the danger zone.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website

15 comments:

Kristin @ Addicted to HEA said...

I THINK I heard of this book but jeez louise, I think I need to read it NOW! What a unique idea. Um, yeah, optimists die first but do pessimists actually live? Hmmmmm.... :) Thanks for sharing!!!

Erika Sorocco said...

This makes me think of that John Green book of which I can't remember the title of now. With Hazel and Augustus.

xx

Carrie said...

It is always interesting to find out how an author comes up with a title or if they give an explanation for it. :) I struggle with just naming my blog post titles, can't imagine I could come up with a book title. ;) I'll have to check this author out.

Carrie
curlycraftymom.com

RO said...

This is not a book I've heard of, but I truly get fascinated with the behind the scenes facts that go into writing a book, and love your story. Hugs...

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

I love the cover. I also like the sound of Jacob and I have been curious about this one.

Gingi Freeman said...

I love all the background information you provide in your posts!! <3 - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Aylee said...

haha, "This is the Soundtrack of my Life" is pretty hokey X) So it's good this other title occurred to her and it suits the book so well. I really enjoyed Susin's book The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen and I should really read more from her!

A Canadian Girl said...

That's so interesting that optimists die first. I haven't read any of Nielsen's books but this sounds like something I'd like to try.

The Bibliophile Babe said...

I would be so bad with coming up with a book title, haha.

Simply Alexandra // My Favorite Things said...

This sounds interesting. The title alone has me wanting to read it. heheh XO - Alexandra

Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

Tanya Atkinson said...

So interesting to hear the story behind the title!

Jennifer Humphries said...

Haha, thanks Susan! I love hearing back stories like this. I think it might be true, optimists are always the first into the dark and scary rooms, right? :)

Anna (herding cats-burning soup) said...

Always interesting to see how people come up with titles. Yay for living longer! lol I consider myself more of a realist so guess that's closer to pessimist. lol

Sue Holmes said...

Oh wow, that is such a clever title. This book has been on my TBR (with many many others) and knowing a little behind the scenes has really intrigued me. It's zooting up to the top of the pile! Thanks for sharing.

Shannon/ It Starts at Midnight said...

I love this story! I really liked the book, and I loved reading about how Susin came up with the title- I always think that too, that my pessimism just may keep me safer, so I am glad science backs it up ;)