Retitling Rosemary and Time


I’ve discussed this before, but Erin and I and a few others have given some more thought about retitling Rosemary and Time.

As you will recall, the title came to me in August 2001. At that time, I was dealing with the simmering ideas of a Wrinkle in Time inspired story, young adult fantasy, with a young female protagonist and a love interest. But what to call her? What to call her? I was wrestling with this question as I went to lunch with Erin and Erin’s supervisor John Green. Commenting on the high-class menu items (this was at the University of Waterloo’s University Club), they mentioned the salad dressing, “passion fruit and thyme” as being an excellent title for the story. And it hit me: Rosemary and Time. My young heroine would be named Rosemary. And the story built from there.

It has been said that a single idea can inspire a whole novel, and yet be excluded from the final print. Quite often this original, inspiring idea, be it a scene or a character, is something the author clings to, to the bitter end. But it is usually in the story’s best interest that the element be cut, since it serves no useful purpose to the story, beyond inspiring it in the first place.

The title, “Rosemary and Time”, may be that one element for me. From that title, I built the tale of young Rosemary Watson being dragged into the Land of Fiction in order to save her brother. It is a story about powerlessness and hope. It plays with all of the conventions of fiction. It has zip-all to do with time travel. It may be misleading. And while it may be a stretch to suggest that the title is harming the story’s marketability, it’s doubtful that it’s helping, either.

But what to retitle it? After a brief flirt with The Girl Who Folded Herself, we’ve come up with the following field:

If We Shadows

From Puck’s soliloquay, “if we shadows have offended…”. This was Erin’s idea, and it sparked the latest round of renaming suggestions that you see here. It has the benefit of having something to do with the actual storyline; not only is it Puck’s line, but it’s also from a soliloquay where the character of a play speaks out through the fourth wall to the audience. From this point of view, it’s closest to ideal. It has been suggested, though, that it too might be misleading (promising more Shakespeare than it delivers) and too literary for the targeted audience.

Stranger in Fiction

A play on “stranger than fiction” and “stranger in a strange land”. A possibility, but not one that has grown on me, yet.


Right now, my personal favourite, and one which seems to twig the interest of a few people, including Cameron. It plays off of the folding girl image in chapter one (“The Girl Who Folded Herself”), and the double meaning is slightly creepy. However, as with “The Girl Who Folded Herself”, this title throws the story’s emphasis on Marjorie, not Rosemary. And might it be too cute for its own good?

Reading Rosemary

Has alliteration. Plays with the fourth wall a bit. Good enough?

Rosemary and Storytime

May be too young for most readers. Young readers tend to avoid books that make them seem younger than they are.

So the quest for a name which really grabs me continues. Fortunately Fathom Five and The Young City don’t have this problem.

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