What’s in a Name?

The original title for Five Hundred Moons was In the Name Of. Throughout the entire writing process that was the name of the book. I even had my daughter-in-law design the cover art with that title in bold print. I assumed most people would add their own opinion as to what In the Name Of stood for, with the Father, meaning Father Junípero Serra, as the obvious fill-in-the-blank choice. So, what’s in a name?

Many conflicts throughout history have been fought in the name of religion. Some philosophers theorize that all wars have some religious component, be it of an obvious nature, like the crusades of the twelfth century, or a more inconspicuous dividing force, like that seen in the American Civil War. The struggle between the Spanish colonizers and the indigenous people of California was certainly a clash of religious concepts—a single deity speaking through the tongues of pious priests offering eternal salvation in return for allegiance to the dogmas and truth set forth by the Church, verses the paganism and animism of a pantheistic worldview. Although the Franciscan padres were smart enough to incorporate some of the natives’ beliefs in their Catholic teachings, we all know who won the struggle for dominance.

My book’s original title and cover

Of course, some readers, after finishing the novel, might be inclined to offer a different perspective on what In the Name Of means to them. Perhaps “In the Name of the King” or “In the Name of Genocide” or “In the Name of Deliverance” would fit the story nicely. That really was the intent of the original title; one should fill in their own word(s).

But Five Hundred Moons was eventually thought to be the best title. The story takes place over the timespan of five hundred moons, so it was a logical choice. And the native Californians counted days by the cycle of the moon as well as the seasonal differences that each succeeding moon represented. Also, it’s pretty cool to have a picture of a glowing moon on the book’s cover. Big, beautiful full moons have a way of attracting people’s attention.

My book’s final title and cover
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