Q&A: Titles

Over the years, we’ve been asked a couple of times about how we came up with the titles for the series/what meaning they have. On April 8, 2012, Chaos asked on our forum and I wrote the answer below. There are possible semi-spoilers for the series in the answers, mostly in the themes.

Q: Question from Chaos:

I’ve been wanting to ask about the story titles for a while now. I’ve wondered about the meanings behind them, especially of the series name In the Company of Shadows and Evenfall.

I can see the meaning behind Afterimage and Fade, or at least some of it. With what Sin goes through in book two and the early information we find out in book three, some of it is obvious while maybe some other meanings may be more elusive.

I finally decided to look up the word “shadow” and garnered many results, some of which I hadn’t thought of.

1. darkened shape of something in light: a darkened shape on a surface that falls behind somebody or something blocking the light
2. darkness: relative darkness in a place that is being screened or blocked off from direct sunlight
Part of the room was in shadow.
3. hint of something: a slight suggestion or hint of something
4. ominous gloom: a depressing or ominous gloom
5. threat: an ever-present threat or blight
6. dark area under eyes: a darkened area of skin under the eyes usually caused by fatigue
7. overshadowed state: a state in which somebody is always overshadowed by another person
8. somebody always following after another: somebody who constantly follows another person around wanting to be with the other person
9. person secretly trailing another: somebody, for example, a detective or spy, who secretly follows somebody
10. arts See shade n.5
11. paranormal See shade n.9
12. reflection: a reflection of something in water
13. copy: an imitation or copy of something
14. inferior remnant: a remnant of somebody or something formerly greater or more important
15. business somebody learning job by following worker: somebody who learns a job by following and observing somebody else who knows or regularly does the job
16. medicine abnormal area in X-ray: an abnormal area showing up on an X-ray
17. psychology Jungian archetype: in Jungian psychology, the archetype that represents sexual and aggressive instincts inherited from a more primitive stage of humanity
18. shelter: something that provides protection

I can see the definition of numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 18, and maybe 12, 15, and 17 applying to the series. Maybe (or definitely) I’m over-analyzing this, but I was wondering if anyone else wonders about the hidden meanings of the titles.

Would either or both of the lovely authors mind explaining them? Especially for Evenfall, since as far as I know it isn’t a word. Of course, I’d understand if Fade is to remain somewhat a mystery still.

 

—-

ANSWER FROM AIS:

In the Company of Shadows
In the beginning, we were just screwing around writing something offhanded to pass the time when we were bored. So we didn’t put much thought into some of the names.

You can read the whole conversation where “In the Company of Shadows” was first decided but it basically came down to this:

We couldn’t figure out a title so after awhile I pulled out poetry I’d written and randomly chose titles of those poems to throw out as options/inspiration. The original four I threw out were:

…And Released on Broken Wings.
And, Sometimes, Die.
In the Company of Shadows
Impasse

Sonny liked the middle two (which I think is hilarious in retrospect– what a great title that would have been: And, Sometimes, Die. XD I bet everyone would’ve avoided reading it thinking it would be major character death in the first few chapters.)

We went back and forth a bit more, and finally just went with In the Company of Shadows. After all, it did work on a few levels — the Agency works from the shadows, Sin has a shadowed past, Boyd spent a lot of his time in the dark, and other metaphorical reasons.

[Note 10/2013: As time has passed, I’ve assigned more meaning to it. The company of friends, the company of the Agency; the shadows inside many of the characters, the dark parts of their pasts or relationships, and more. I imagine everyone has assigned their own reasons or feelings to the name as well, and that’s one of the things I love about the title in the end. I think it gives people a chance to see it their own way.]

Incidentally, the poem I’d written that In the Company of Shadows stole the name from happens to be about a person killing themself XD I think it’s kind of funny how that theme ended up coincidentally working pretty well with the theme of the series. Not that people are killing themelves but there’s a lot of death and Boyd was suicidal for awhile…

I’d posted the poem at one point but I think I ended up deleting it later because I was too embarrassed by how horrible it was.***

Afterimage
Afterimage was the next name we chose. When we first started writing this story, we never planned to write past what is now the first book. Well, truth be told we didn’t even really plan to write that first book either. It just kind of gained its own momentum.

But anyway, at that time we still considered In the Company of Shadows as the name of the first book, more or less. We realized we needed to come up with a name for the second book. We kept calling it “book 2” and it wasn’t until a few months before we started releasing it (almost 4 years ago to the day that I’m writing this–April 4, 2008) that Sonny emailed me and said:

“what do you think of the name “afterimage” for the story?

An afterimage or ghost image is an optical illusion that refers to an image continuing to appear in one’s vision after the exposure to the original image has ceased.”

I really liked the imagery that produced. The second book not only deals with Sin’s hallucinations which are a sort of afterimage of their own, and the ghost of Emilio and Sin’s past, but Boyd and Sin’s relationship itself shifted from the original view of it, becoming in some ways only a reflection of what it once was.

Of course, in the greater scheme of things, that shift was needed in order to strengthen their relationship further– but if I were going to get ridiculously poetic about it, I suppose it would be like the first book was when there was still a strength and light in their coming together/relationship, so when they’re pulling apart it’s like the image itself of their original relationship is pulled apart along with it.

Fade
As far as I can tell, we actually had Fade’s name decided long before Evenfall’s. I can’t find any written examples of when we first determined that name, but one of us must have come up with it in some manner.

Obviously I won’t get that far into it to avoid any spoilers but already you can probably see some of the reason for the title: Boyd returns from a long mission, Sin is gone and his memory has already faded from the Agency but not from him– so the beginning of the book is about the fading of Boyd’s old life, and then when Sin is seen again it also deals with how his own memories faded away into something new.

It seems as though we had determined Fade’s title before September 2008 but I don’t know a specific date.

Evenfall
This was the hardest title by far D: It took forever to decide.. I think we even considered, briefly, leaving the first book named In the Company of Shadows but that would have been too confusing. By then we’d started calling the whole series In the Company of Shadows by default so we wanted a name that kept in line with the darker themes that so far had been created, but it also needed to fit the book itself.

There were a lot of options we considered and dismissed… One of my favorites was actually mentioned by a reader:

Palimpsest —
1. A manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing.
2. Something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.

It seemed like a cool meaning for the book since they’re basically rewriting over their own lives– by going from “normal human” to agent for Boyd and going from agent to “normal human” for Sin. But the word was just too awkward to use and it didn’t really fit the theme.

So what I started doing was thinking of words that fit the series and then looking up synonyms and synonyms of synonyms. I’m not sure what Sonny did for the options he came up with.

Then in April 2009 I sent Sonny an email with a variety of options I’d somehow gotten to from originally checking synonyms for flux:

“Fall, Evenfall, Descent, Descension (which not everyone agrees is a word so the other version is Declension), Deviation…”

I actually really wanted to use Twilight but of course, there was no way we were touching that word as a title for a story XD That series was already really popular… but I think through looking up synonyms of that I found evenfall, which is more obscure.

Evenfall actually IS a word. It means:

1) The beginning of evening; twilight.
2) (Archaic) early evening; dusk
3) the time of day immediately following sunset

Basically all the same meaning, just said different ways. Other versions of it include “eventide” which you may have heard.

What I liked about Evenfall is that’s the time when everything is starting to get dark but there is still light to be seen. It fit the theme of darkness for In the Company of Shadows, but to me it kind of represented how Boyd and Sin were both in a place especially in the beginning of the book where they had given up on things being different than they were. It was a dark time for sure in Boyd’s life, and then the Agency summons appeared and through it there came Sin.

Although this will probably sound cheesy and overly poetic, Sin worked as the last rays of sunlight that let Boyd see ahead in the gloom. Even though night was drawing near, there was just enough light for them to see each other through the darkness they had each pulled over themselves as a shroud.
I actually didn’t realize it when I first threw out the list, but then I sent Sonny another email that day about how the theme worked on two levels:

All three titles deal with darkness in some manner so that fits the Shadows part — but more than that, looking at it in order:

Evenfall (still light but becoming dark), Afterimage (night has come but the last bit of light burned into the eyes as a ghost image on the darkness), Fade (even that light faded away and now it’s all dark — but fade could mean fading to black or fading to light, or transition in general. I won’t say which, if any, of those meanings may be appropriate for later in the book).

[Note 10/13: When I wrote that Fade wasn’t finished yet, but now I feel free to say that in my mind Fade means all of the above]

 

[Note 10/13: Interludes
This actually wasn’t considered to be a book for a long time. It was just supposed to be a couple of short oneshots written as transitional pieces between Afterimage and Fade. But it became so long that, yeah, now it’s basically a book. I don’t know if we’ll keep it named Interludes forever, or if we’ll end up assigning it a different name that’s more in line with the rest.]

All that being said– I like all those definitions of shadow! It’s cool to see how many of them end up working out quite well for the story even though we didn’t initially plan it that way… Somehow Sonny and I managed to do a lot of this story like that: some very purposeful and some very random choices, and yet it all ends up working out in the end without us specifically trying to make it do so…

—————————

***Incidentally, after the above answer I ended up posting the poem that I had written back in 2003; the title I stole when we were deciding on a title for this series. I cut out the poem at the time because I was embarrassed and thought it sucked, but I’ll just paste it below anyway. I keep saying the poem sucks, but in all honesty I kind of like it. Maybe I’m just nostalgic after all these years.

I find it to be interesting because in a lot of ways, the topic of the poem fits Boyd’s past very well, but the poem and his past were written completely separate from each other years apart, and I’d completely forgotten about this poem until I was flipping through my notebook in 2006 trying to find some potential titles to use temporarily for posting on AFFN.

 

In the Company of Shadows
written 11/6/2003 by Ais

I was waiting for forgiveness
In the Russian-plated room
With a candle as a roommate
Shards of glass that faltered, crooned
As I trembled with the splinters
And held my arm away
I witnessed the creation
Of crimson-tinted stains
They spread across my kneecaps
And drip-dropped to the floor
I sat there grinning, laughing
For I could do no more
In the dismal water shadows
As shallow as my heart
I watched my freedom’s murder
And even took a part
For the darkness spoke of answers
That the light had never shown
Take your pity and repentance
Myself, I’m going home.

Advertisements

13 thoughts on “Q&A: Titles

  1. Sue October 7, 2013 / 2:00 am

    Absolutely love the reasoning behind the names and the impression we’re left with when we ponder those reasons too. Just fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • Ais October 7, 2013 / 2:08 am

      No problem 🙂 I’m happy to do so, plus it’s good to get all these things in one place instead of scattered willy-nilly everywhere.

  2. Nikkei Wolvenchilde October 7, 2013 / 2:26 am

    Wow, no wonder I had to call it just ICoS or Book 1 for awhile. I think I remember even knowing that the second book was going to be Afterimage before Evenfall was finalized. Thank you for putting so much effort into the titles! (even though it’s still habit to say Book 1 and Book 2. D: I’m hoping to get over that one day and actually use their titles)

    (and I still really love the poem. I wish my poems had been that descriptive/emotional)

    It’s really funny to try and imagine any of the other 3 titles getting chosen for the series. I try to sound it out in my head and make it fit like ICoS does, but I just kinda gawk and feel weird.

    • Ais October 7, 2013 / 3:31 am

      Those other titles sound so weird to me now, when I imagine them as icos instead. I just can’t see it. So I know what you mean lol

      And yeah 🙂 You had a reason for remembering it as Book 1 or Book 2 or ICoS. It was kind of crazy when I did tracked down the dates for answering the question. I actually hadn’t, myself, remembered the way it had all gone down, or even how we’d figured out Afterimage’s title well before Evenfall.

      I’m glad you like the poem 🙂 I don’t know why I keep saying it sucks when I tell people about it. Probably just me being me, downplaying anything to do with myself so people don’t get disappointed lol But I do actually like that poem.

      I have some other poems I posted at one point although I tend to really dislike my older works when given any amount of distance, and through that I have no concept of if something is awful or mediocre or in any way good. So you can read some more if you want but I honestly have no idea if it all is really, really bad– so fair warning on that lol http://www.aisylum.com/original/poetry/asstd/shortpoems.html

  3. Zoe October 7, 2013 / 2:37 am

    The word ‘afterimage’ always makes me think of those weird shadow outline things you get after a nuclear blast, so that title always fit really well with the whole post-apocalyptic theme for me.

    • Ais October 7, 2013 / 4:07 am

      ohhh, I never thought of that. That fits very well– it’s dark and macabre and sad, and because of the post-apocalyptic setting it makes a lot of sense.

      I always think of when I look at something too bright for too long, and then I blink and look away and this blurry purple image of it is burned into my view and won’t leave even when I close my eyes.

  4. ladysieben October 7, 2013 / 6:54 am

    It’s interesting for me to read this because I read all four books in a row, without knowing there was a website for it and forums (I think?) and that it was basically a serialised thing.

    I remember finishing Evenfall and thinking: “Crap. Crapcrapcrap. This is a *series* of books. Shit. Damn. What if the rest aren’t up yet?”

    Thankfully they were and I didn’t have to wait. I wonder what the experience would’ve been like, though, if I’d had to wait for each chapter to be published. As it stands now, I did have my own musings about each book title and it seems like I was kinda off in some things (when compared to your views) and closer on others. It’s always interesting to know what the author makes of her/his own work, but I like getting that insight after I’ve formed my own opinion.

    • Ais October 7, 2013 / 11:02 pm

      lol if you’d had to wait for each chapter you might have wanted to murder us at times. I know in Afterimage for sure there were some very strong emotional reactions, particularly when we posted a few chapters at a time. But now that the whole series is done, I’ve noticed there are still strong reactions for many people reading it but I don’t think they are as intense as when it was in progress.

      “It’s always interesting to know what the author makes of her/his own work, but I like getting that insight after I’ve formed my own opinion.”

      I think that’s one of the most important things– for people to form their own opinions. I don’t think many things are really “wrong” when you get into stories. Just because I might think of the titles one way, or envision the characters looking like this, or more, doesn’t mean it’s the one and only “true” answer. So I love seeing what people thought themselves, or the way they imagine the characters, and so on. A lot of times the way readers think about something might never have occurred to me but it also is awesome for that fact, because it shows a new perspective on the same topic.

  5. Lorraine October 10, 2013 / 9:44 pm

    “I watched my freedom’s murder
    And even took a part”

    Wow, love these lines…they’re so powerful!! Speaks to the self-destructive qualities in all of us and/or conversely to accepting responsibility for our actions. Exactly what poetry is supposed to do.

    Well done!

    • Ais October 10, 2013 / 10:05 pm

      Thank you Lorraine! It’s really cool to see what you said about it– both sides of the coin. I’m glad you liked it. I have been liking that poem more as time passes. I think I just got embarrassed because sometimes it seems like people in general are supposed to be embarrassed about their poetry, and I don’t know why I get that impression but I do.

  6. Lorraine October 10, 2013 / 11:23 pm

    It’s an excellent poem. The word “freedom” can be interchanged with so many words, ie, dreams, making those lines and the feelings they evoke universal.

    I remember reading something someone posted somewhere about you being incredibly humble about your work. You deserve to take immense pride in being so multi-talented…embrace it! Especially here, where we who visit come for the sole purpose to engage with you, one of the authors of a favorite, incredibly wonderful epic and who have the greatest respect and praise for your work.

    You”ve got fans!!!

    • Ais October 11, 2013 / 3:41 am

      “The word “freedom” can be interchanged with so many words, ie, dreams, making those lines and the feelings they evoke universal.”

      That’s how I imagine it 🙂 That poem was mostly about a person killing themselves, and yet, I think it could work metaphorically as well. I don’t recall my mindset at the time of writing it but, even though we just randomly chose that as the title for the series, I think in some ways it fits the story’s thoughts.

      haha thank you Lorraine! You’re really sweet 🙂 And actually you make a good point that people who visit here are more likely to be interested in things. I have a difficult time not being self-effacing. It’s probably really annoying and if it ever bugs anyone, I apologize. But it’s very difficult for me to ever seriously be like, “I’m awesome!” lol I can really only ever say it when I’m joking and purposefully acting over the top.

      Either way, I appreciate you guys all being awesome! And the time you take to hang out commenting on the blog 🙂 And I appreciate your comments! I’m trying to make an effort to downplay things less but it’s kind of integral to my nature so it will probably never fully go away lol

      Also I just realized I forgot to comment on one of your other comments– sweet, thanks for letting me know you’re interested in omake/background stuff! I haven’t thought of a new topic to post about but if I find any other omake things I’ll definitely post here. I’ve been debating whether I will post the icos comics/jokes I drew in Paint over here too but right now I think I might not because it’s kind of a side note rather than background info. (I suppose that was a bit rambly but that’s an example of some omake stuff that could potentially appear)

Leave a Reply to Lorraine Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s