She lay on her cot and pretended the bullet hole in the glass above her was the eyepiece of a telescope, and the ceiling was the sky of a strange alien planet with a dozen rectangular, daytime, fluorescent-light suns. The daytime moon was the Exile’s Moon, cold and barely alive in an ocean of cloud-choked blue. Forever alone and abandoned by the shield of night and the unconquerable legion of stars. A sky where day was not separated from the night, and the Exile’s Moon wasn’t alone anymore and her sisters, the Dead Girl Moon… and Havoc’s Moon, the patron saint of troublemakers, prisoners, and hopeless little girls, was almost full.

from Dead Girl Moon, Pulling Teeth and Other Stories of The Slaughter Chronicles

Regina cast a suspicious glance upward, through the canopy of bare oak branches and prickly pine boughs to where the moon hung and the stars twinkled. Overhead, the moon was one week from full. Havoc’s Moon, she thought. Patron saint of best laid plans and miscellaneous fuckery. The tall pines of the forest were stalwart sentinels, their branches were spears and their needles were beautifully crafted rapiers battling the terrors of the night in the sway of autumn’s bonfire smelling breeze.

from Havoc’s Moon, The Slaughter Chronicles Book One

What inspired The Slaughter Chronicles titles?

In case you haven’t noticed in The Slaughter Chronicles series list, all the forthcoming novels have titles that involve the moon. Book one is Havoc’s Moon, book two is Exile’s Moon. Book three… you get the idea. So, aside from the whole werewolf aesthetic, what’s up with all the moon stuff?

Regina Slaughter, my main protagonist, was just a child when her biological father accidentally contaminated and transformed her into a werewolf. In the years before and the two years after, Regina received zero formal education. Before her parents met their tragic end, Regina was homeschooled by her mother. Regina’s mother was a religious zealot who did not believe in Sesame Street, or that little girls needed the same learning opportunities as boys. She taught Regina how to read so she could read the Bible and other religious texts, but she was not allowed to write, sing, play, or do math. Or watch TV.

Regina’s mother… how can I say this nicely?… was a terrible person who should never have been allowed to reproduce and be responsible for children. But if she wasn’t, we wouldn’t have Regina so… *shrug*.

And then, after Regina’s mother (thankfully) died, Regina was kept in a secret laboratory for two years, where she also received zero formal education. But she had a lot of time to think by herself and, as a coping mechanism, she came up with her own unique version of numerology in which she tried to predict the fortunes of her fellow prisoners based on the time displayed in the laboratory’s big digital clock.

Also, in the laboratory, Regina was heavily sedated and given drugs to keep her, and the other adult prisoners, from using their supernatural abilities to escape. (Keeping a bunch of werewolves in cages without sedating them is not smart.) Because she could no longer connect with her werewolf-self, Regina also fabricated her own phases of the moon, based on how she was feeling physically and mentally as the doctor in the laboratory experimented on her werewolf strain.

After she and the other prisoners were liberated, Regina continued to refer to her own moon phases. And that is how the titles for my books were born.

Each moon phase coincides with the theme of the book. For example, the novella Dead Girl Moon is about Regina’s time in the laboratory and the days leading up to her escape.

Havoc’s Moon is the waxing gibbous moon, the phase immediately proceeding the full moon. Havoc’s Moon (also my principal work in progress) is about building conflicts and finding order in the chaos. But the next book, Exile’s Moon, is the daytime moon, the moon of loneliness, defeat, and despair. I don’t want to give too much away, but if everything worked out at the end of book one, there wouldn’t be a need for a book two.

Also, I AM writing grimdark fantasy so expect that if there is a happy ending, it won’t come right away.

Question for writers: How do you come up with your book titles?

Question for readers: What makes a good title? What are some of your favorites?

Please feel free to share your answers in the comments.