Where Did the Idea for The Devil and Miss Jones Come From? by Kate Walker

by Kate Walker, author of  The Devil and Miss Jones (Harlequin Presents Extra, April 2012)

It’s that classic question – the one that every author gets used to being asked as soon as some one finds out that she writes for a living. There’s always one thing they want to know. And that is:

Where do you get your ideas from?

Most of the time, I  answer this with something vague and general  – Life is full of ideas, I say. Or I read the papers, magazines. Mostly I just say ‘I have a very vivid imagination.’

But sometimes I know exactly  what sparks off a  story , the inspiration behind it, and maybe even an image that will start me thinking. It was like this with The Devil and Miss Jones. I was looking through a magazine and I found a fashion story that was full of dresses for special occasions – the magazine was the Christmas  edition so it was full of clothes to wear to the holiday parties. There was one particular image that caught my imagination.

It was of a couple on a motorbike, roaring away down a deserted road, in a wintery landscape.  The male model – dressed in a Santa  Claus outfit  was driving the bike, his head turned away from the camera, and the girl was riding pillion in a long white dress that swirled in the wind as they went. She was also waving a beautiful, sparkling tiara in the air as if she was about to throw it away.

I tore that picture out of the magazine  and kept it, knowing that one day there would be a story to fit it. But bits of it just didn’t work – an alpha Presents hero in a Santa suit?  The ball gown wasn’t quite right either.  But eventually I saw that it was the mood of the picture that I wanted – the  rather wild, reckless tone of the image – the fact that they were dashing away from something rather than heading somewhere in particular. And that long white dress looked more like a bridal outfit the more I looked at it.

So what  were these characters leaving behind? Why were they – a mixed and incongruous  couple – even together?  I couldn’t see the man/my hero’s face,  so what was he hiding from?  Why was the girl looking so happy – so relieved to be getting away from whatever was behind her? And why was she about to throw that beautiful tiara away in a wild, determined gesture of freedom?

And then came the moment that was pure inspiration, the title that came from nowhere. The Devil and Miss Jones. No, I can’t say how I thought that one up – it just came to me. But as soon as it did I connected it up with the picture.  And when I added that into the mixture, I knew I had my story. So that title, The Devil and Miss Jones was my own working title for this story, the one that gave me the right mood and atmosphere for the book.  When I sent in this novel I decided to share with my editor the title that had kept me on the storyline I had planned – The Devil and Miss Jones – and luckily for me she loved it and wanted to use it when the book was officially published.  And it’s been attracting attention ever since.  Everyone seems to want to know where that title came from – and that’s the bit I don’t really know!

One of the reasons why I called this book The Devil and Miss Jones is because those are the names my hero and heroine give each other when they first meet. They don’t use their real names but these aliases, names they are hiding behind, each for their own very personal reasons.  Both are at as crossroads in their lives. Neither of them really know who they are right now – and where they go from here. They know what they are leaving behind – the unhappiness and the memories they want to get away from but they’re not ready to admit those to anyone.  And neither of them is prepared to reveal their true self to someone  they  have only just met.  Besides,  Diablo/Devil  and Miss Jones are the people they used to be – the people they are leaving behind and the person that will change so very much as a result of meeting the other one.

So The Devil and Miss Jones is how they introduce themselves – and the Devil and Miss Jones – and who they become – is the theme of the story.  So I hope you can see why I was so thrilled to be able to use this title for the published book.

So  I was wondering – what sort of titles will intrigue you? What makes you want to pick up a  book and learn more about it? What have been some of the best titles you’ve  ever seen for a novel – or do you have a favourite title of all time. (I have to admit to  loving quite a few – Wuthering Heights, Game of Kings, The Moonspinners…)

Tell me about the titles that pull you in and make you want to read the book. Everyone who posts a comment will be entered into the draw for my prize giveaway.  I have a copy of The Devil and Miss Jones to give away to one lucky poster. My cat – Charlie the Maine  Coon – will pick the winner.

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Comments ( 26 )
  1. StacieD
    April 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I like cheeky titles that make me smile. One word titles can catch my eye if they are clever. I like The Devil and Miss Jones. Tt piques my interest and makes me want to know more about the characters.

  2. chey
    April 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Titles that are a play on words get my attention.

  3. Shannon
    April 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    I like a variety of titles: sometimes cheesey ones are good, other times I hate them. I agree with the other comments – yay for plays on words. But there are some titles that are very similar to others, and after a while they all blend together and the title no longer can stand out on it’s own.

  4. Laney4
    April 9, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Titles with “sheikh” or “desert” or “king” usually “bribe” me to read their back cover blurb. Why, I read this super book last summer called “AT THE SHEIKH’S COMMAND”, and I will admit that I couldn’t put it down once I’d started it. OMG, I think I fell in love with the sheikh (too)! Then there’s the one called DESERT AFFAIR that I read the year before. It was so good that I whipped through the entire story in just less than an hour because there was no way I was going to get distracted while reading it!

  5. Kate Walker
    April 10, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Hi Stacie – cheeky title are fun aren’t they? I love titles that intrigue me and make me wonder what the story is about. I’m glad you like The Devil and Miss Jones – for me that was a way to describe the characters at the beginning of the book, Of course they change as the story progresses.

  6. Kate Walker
    April 10, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Hi Chey – plays on words are great for titles – if you can think of them. Sometimes a great one comes to mind – other times you can get a single idea!

  7. Kate Walker
    April 10, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Variety is always good, isn’t it Shannon? It would be so boring if everything was all the same. The older ‘buzzword’ titles started out clear and simple but then just as you say they all tended to blur together and I was never sure if I’d read The Italian’s Innocent Bride – or The Italian’s Innocent Wife! So titles that make it easier to differentiate the stories – and the auhtors – work so much better for me.

  8. Kate Walker
    April 10, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Hi Laney – now I wonder who wrote those sheikh stories you mention ! ;o) Thank you ! I’m glad you liked those as well as the titles. Some readers love a sheikh story – some don’t so that word in the title can attract some people but not others. I don’t write many sheikh stories myself – those are the only two full length novels I’ve written with a sheikh hero. Perhaps I should think about writing another one to add to those two

  9. Abby Green
    April 10, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Kate, it’s a brilliant title and I would definitely pick it up! It conjures up all sorts of illicit pictures of a prim Ms Jones (whether she is or not!) and a bad boy…
    I’m absolutely rubbish at titles but I’ve just given a few to my Ed so we’ll see if any of them stick 😉
    x Abby

  10. Nas
    April 10, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Hi Kate,

    Loved reading about the inspiration behind the story! And The Devil and Miss Jones title sort of calls out. It sounds interesting for romance readers to be intrigued!

  11. Rachael Thomas
    April 10, 2012 at 6:51 am

    I love the title The Devil and Miss Jones – and the book. Fantastic. I like titles that intrigue, ones that stand out because they are different.

  12. Lidia
    April 10, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Kate, I love the new titles. I was getting bored with all of the “billionaires”, “Italians”, “Greeks”, etc… This title makes me wonder what it is about the H that makes the h call him a “devil.” Looking forward to reading this book.

  13. Kaelee
    April 10, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Kate ~ I think the Devil aspect is what intrigues me the most. i love a bit of a bad boy. I’m so glad that Presents is moving away from the formulated titles and back to titles that mean something more.

  14. Kate Walker
    April 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Hurray! I’ve managed to get on to the site at last – I’ve not been ignoring you all, but the internet was playing up and I haven’t been able to respons – now I’m here at last!

    Thanks Abby – I’m glad you like the title and yes, at the beginning, Martha might seem like Miss Prim – but at the beginning only!

    I don’t know if this will be the start of a run of titles I’ve picked or not – but we’ll see. It;s great to have the chance to contribute a title anyway.

  15. Kate Walker
    April 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Hello Nas! I know you enjoyed The Devil and Miss Jones – thak you for your lovely review of it. I’m so pleased that you think the title calls out to the reader because that’s what a writer wants, isn’t it? An intrigued reader is a keen reader! – I hope!

  16. Kate Walker
    April 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Hi Rachael – and thank you – so glad you like both the title and the book. Like you, I love to see titles that stand out – of vourse that makes them more difficult to think up, but I think that’s a great challenge – plus the fact that I use my working title to inspire me and then (hopefully) use it as the final title.

  17. Kate Walker
    April 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Hello Lidia – good to see you here! I think the older style titles had had their day – but then everything changes and moves on in publishing doesn’t it? Why does Martha call the hero Devil – well, partly because it is one bit of his name – Carlos Diablo Ortega – but also that’s the way she thinks of him . . . at the beginning. I do hope you enjoy the book when you read it

  18. Kate Walker
    April 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Kaelee – your comment made me smile., It’s exactly that ‘devi’ and ‘bad boy’ aspect that I wanted readers to be intrigued by – so I’m really glad it pulls you in. Carlos/Diablo is something of a bad boy at the start – but then he feels alienated from everything he thought was his real life and made him what he is -and it’s made him question everything he believed in and thought he was.

    But then Martha is going through her own questioning and wonderign where her future lies and when two lost people meet up the results are explosive and sets them both on a new and unexpected road. I hope you enjoy it.

  19. lorraine hossington
    April 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Hi Kate,
    I love the title. The devil and miss jones brings images of a primly cool miss, who has the fortune to have a hero to make her temperature rise in the best way. Great title, glad your editor let you use it.

  20. Kate Walker
    April 11, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Hi Lorraine -thatnls for posting – your summary of The Devil and Miss Jones sounds like just what I was hoping for when I created the title. So that’s realy made me smile to think it’s communicating exactly what I hoped for! And of course, both the ‘primly cool miss’ and the angry, alienated ‘devil’ discover that, together, they are not the people they once thought they were. I love stories where my hero and heroine discover their real selves and find that together they are far stronger than the two separate people.

  21. Stacey
    April 11, 2012 at 8:19 am

    I love the title of your book ‘The Devil and Miss Jones.’ It gives the book an appealing and exciting pull – not just the ordinary boring titles one is used to. Of course, the word ‘devil’ conjures up an image of a mysterious exciting bad boy – with a very prim heroine – sounds like an intriguing mix.

  22. Kate Walker
    April 13, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Hi Stacey I’m so pleased that you find the title gives The Devil and Miss Jones an exciting pull -that’s what a good title should do isn’t it? And that ‘intriguing mix’ is exactly what I was aiming for – the mysterious, exciting bad biy and the very prim heroine -though of course as the story develops the readers will see that that is not all there is to my hero and heroine.

  23. Kate Walker
    April 13, 2012 at 2:33 am

    It’s time to pick a winner of the giveaway – and the winner is

    Stacie D

    Stacie you win a copy of The Devil and MIss Jones – please email me kate AT kate-walker.com to let me have your postal address and I’ll get the book in the mail to you

    Everyone else, thank you for commenting

  24. StacieD
    April 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Thank you!

  25. Janet
    April 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    The title “The Devil and Miss Jones” is also the title of a cult classic porn flick from the 1960’s. Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do.

  26. Amy
    April 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Someone actually said something similar on Twitter but the title is The Devil IN Miss Jones, a riff of a movie from the 1940s (I think the 40s, maybe it was the 50s). I replied pretty much everything has been skewed into a porno title these days 🙂