Buckle yourselves in kids, because today we're going to be talking about the epic saga of how OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS got its name and literally almost killed its author in the process (slight exaggeration).
Once upon a time, there was a manuscript called WE WERE NEVER HERE. It had always been called WE WERE NEVER HERE since it was a teeny, tiny collection of paragraphs in a Word document long ago, and everyone agreed that it was a perfect name for the story.
All of the agents and editors in the land rejoiced because titles are freakin' hard (I finally understand why children end up with names like "Number 16 Bus Shelter"), so already having the perfect one was cause for celebration.
But, as with all fairytales, a great evil stretched across the land - a wicked witch (I'm sure she's lovely) by the name of Jennifer Gilmore came along (again, I've never met the woman, but I bet she likes kittens and rainbows and unicorns etc.) AND STOLE MY TITLE.
(Gilmore landed her book deal about six months before mine, so technically I stole her title BUT STILL. You can read about her WE WERE NEVER HERE on Goodreads.)
There was much despair among the editors and agents (okay, there wasn't really, only the author was truly upset) and - even though the author proposed a Hunger Games style fight to the death where the winner kept the title - it was decided that the name would have to be changed.
Watch the below montage of Nicolas Cage freaking out for an accurate representation of my reaction to this news:
What do you call something that already has a perfect name? If it was collectively decided that roses could no longer be called roses, what would we call them? They'd certainly still smell as sweet, but it'd take a long time to come up with something that felt right, and an even longer time for everyone to adjust to the new name.
After weeks of going back and forth between my agent and my editor and my publisher's second cousin's best friend's dog groomer (everyone gets a say when retitling a book), we finally settled on OUR CHEMIC - ha! Just kidding.
You see, OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS was, very briefly, called something else entirely for a couple of months. I liked (but didn't love) the second title, but the name change debacle had been gnawing at my soul for months, so it was nice to finally have something locked in.
OR SO I THOUGHT. Dun dun dun.
Then came the news: Barnes and Noble weren't fans and we had to go back to the drawing board again. AGAIN.
The night my agent told me that title two had been scrapped, I stood up after a nap and thought I was having a pulmonary embolism (turned out to be a stomach spasm - extremely painful but not life threatening) and my one and only thought as I lost consciousness and genuinely thought I was slipping away to my death was, Noooooooo I hope Catherine doesn't let anyone give the book a bad naaaaame.
My life didn't flash before my eyes. I didn't think about my family, or my friends, or my pets, or about all the delicious food I wouldn't get to eat, only about the stupid book title.
As with all modern fairytales not written by the Grimm brothers, this story has a happy ending.
I don't remember where exactly OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS came from in my head, only that a shorter version of it - CHEMICAL HEARTS - appeared on a frantic list of title suggestions I sent to Catherine the next day. The publishers loved it, I loved it, we smacked an OUR on the front for good measure and BAM: we'd renamed the rose.
Now OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS is locked in and no one can take it from me. NO ONE.