Carter Wilson | Thriller Author

People are always surprised when they find out book titles are often not the title the author used. Looking back, my publisher changed the title of five of my nine books. And that’s okay! I’ve long since learned not to get attached to my working title, and often I’ll just use the placeholder UNTITLED until I’m at least 1/3 into the first draft.

Publishers change titles for myriad reasons, the number one being the author’s own title sucks ass. But authors are delicate creatures, so publishers know to use kid gloves when it comes to altering the very thing the book will be called.

PUB: So I know you’re very attached to the name of your book, but I wanted to see how receptive you’d be to some alternative suggestions.

AUTHOR: <thirty seconds of silence> What’s wrong with my title?

PUB:  We’re just not sure The Unbearable Solitude of Her Mystic Genius hits the sweet spot in the thriller market.

AUTHOR: Did you test it?

PUB: Yes, we tested it.


PUB: The consensus of the focus group was that it sucks ass.  

There is some science involved here. The publisher will take a series of titles, including all suggestions from the author, and test them either through focus groups or proprietary algorithms. The highest-rated ones float to the top, and then there’s more discussion. Often this is a revelatory process and results in titles that really pop. I’m quite certain the original working title of Gone Girl was There was a Woman Who was Around For a Bit and then Not So Much.

I went through this recently for my upcoming book (releasing April 2024), and I’ve grown to love where we landed with it.  In fact, I’m excited about all aspects of this book, and the cover art is just perfect. Rest assured I’ll be hyping the hell out of this starting starting in a few months, but for now just know the title isn’t the one I came up with. And, honestly, I’m still not sure what the real issue is with 50 Shades of Dorian Gray.

Not all titles are tested.

Making It Up
New episodes of my conversation series Making It Up are out! This month I chatted with historical fiction writer Bryn Turnbull (The Paris Deception) and award-winning, USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight (Starring Adele Astaire).

All episodes are available on my website, my YouTube channel, and wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

What’s Entertaining Me

Movie: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, Director) Hell, yeah, we went to the movies! I honestly think this was only the second movie I’ve been to in a theater since 2019. And I’m not going to review the movie (I liked it) since all we’ve heard about is Oppenheimer and Barbie for the past two months. Rather, I want to review the movie-going experience. We saw the movie in the Regal Cinema in Longmont, CO.

The good things:

1) The seats. Damnnnnn, they were nice! Recliners have been around for years, but these we extra comfy. The only downside was when you lowered or raised them the leather rubbed and make it sound like gastrointestinal disorder.

2) The sound. Brilliant. The whole theater shook. Never have I been so excited for thermonuclear explosions.

3) The spacing. Also brilliant. I think there were only 165 seats in this massive theater and it didn’t feel like a crowded COVID den. Seriously, how do these places make money?

4) The previews. Not bad! This is when I usually nap, but the whole thing went by fast. And they left the lights on during the previews, which meant all the confused people arriving and trying to find their seat numbers didn’t have to use their cell-phone flashlights.

The bad things:

1) The price. I’m over 50, which means from now until the rest of my life I’m allowed to complain about how much things cost. Sixteen bucks for a matinee! And three of the four of us got popcorn and/or a drink, which totaled forty-six dollars. FORTY-SIX DOLLARS! In my day that would’ve cost less than ten bucks, and you could’ve used the change to play three rounds of Q*bert or Dig Dug in the theater arcade.  

2) The dude whose cell phone went off in the few seconds of silence during the atomic bomb testing scene. Jackass.

3) The inability to pause. This was a big one. We were all dying to have control over the movie so we could pause at any time to ask questions like Is that Robert Downey Jr.? and Wait, why are they in New Mexico? We’ve been way too spoiled by streaming services.

Overall I give the movie-going experience 4.5 stars. And once I win the lottery I plan to go again! (I slay myself).

Ghost story: A few months ago I guest-lectured in a high-school class. Now, this was a really nice private school, and since they were doing a module on horror and thriller writing, the whole class was taking a field trip to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO. If you haven’t heard of the Stanley, you might know it by its fictitious name: The Overlook Hotel from The Shining. Yup, this was the hotel King stayed in and which served as inspiration for one of his best-known works. And not only were these kids visiting the hotel, they were staying the night!

A few weeks later I emailed the teacher to see how it all went, and she sent the following response:

“I have stayed at the Stanley three times now, and I have never photographed anything creepy until last month when I attempted to take a picture of two of my students and ended up with the attached image.

The weirdest part (aside from the fact that no one else was in the shot when I took it so what the heck is that shadowy figure doing there and is there a face next to it as well??) was that I plugged in my cell phone that evening in the hotel and when I woke up the next morning it was completely dead. It refused to turn on again until the next day back at school, at which point it was fully charged (even though I had not plugged it in again after leaving the Stanley). So weird!”


Photo of the Month

Sawyer and Scully lake swimming! It took her a while to figure it all out (scroll down for more on this).

Update from my Kids
So my daughter had to go to the local police station to get fingerprinted for an upcoming job (she’ll be working the fall semester with Michigan State Police’s cold-case unit—so cool!) They get the prints done and then they have to run her I.D. through the system, so she hands her license it to the cop and he leaves for a few minutes to process it. When he returns, he hands the I.D. back and says, “Oh, and this other card was stuck to your license.” Then he hands her the second card, which, of course, is her FAKE I.D.   And the kicker is…he said nothing! Just handed it right back to her, even though clearly it’s fake (different ages, obviously, and different states). She was mortified, of course. But not enough to change her ways.

Update from my Pets
So, yeah, Scully couldn’t figure out the whole swimming thing. She basically tread water (very successfully) until she finally figured out if she kept her front paws below the surface she could glide as smoothly as a curling stone on ice (click to play).

Humor of the Month sent to me by a friend

This makes me laugh every time I watch it, because I’m a horrible human.

News Anchor Laughing at “Chris P. Bacon” Pig Name

Other Thriller Authors You Should Be Reading
Hank Phillippi Ryan! It’s no secret thriller writers are the most wonderful people, and Hank epitomizes this. Generous, kind, always smiling, and a helluva talented storyteller. No wonder everyone loves her.

That’s it for now! Until next month…


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