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The Black Trillium
by Simon McNeil
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy
Confederation rules in Trana—so says the king.
But Fredericton is a long way from the shores of Lake Ontario, and
schemes for power will bring together three extraordinary young
A desert girl who came to Trana looking for refuge but has never found
a home
A privileged city boy dreaming of rebellion and hardened by cruelty
The disgraced heir to the throne desperate to win back his place in his
father’s heart
Sworn enemies or reluctant allies, they all have one thing in common: an
incomplete half of the legendary fighting skill known as the
Triumvirate sword art. They fight for glory, for power, for the
monsters lurking beneath the streets, and for the mysterious society
moving in the shadows of Trana—the Black Trillium.


Titles are the hardest part


For me, as a novelist, I find the length of the form freeing. In a 100,000 word book I have the freedom to go on a tangent, dawdle over a scene, include words beyond what is strictly necessary to communicate my message. This makes brevity a challenge for me sometimes. And there’s nothing more brief than a book title. In 1 to 4 words, you have to sum up the entirety of your story in a way that captures reader attention, contains the essence of the story and invites somebody to read more.


That’s a tall order.


As such, I went through several titles.


The first was a working title: “Untitled Walking the Radiant Trail Sequel” – referencing an unpublished trilogy I’d written, which formed the basis for the world building in the Black Trillium.


Then I changed the title to, “In the Shadow of Fallen Towers.” This was a reference to the setting. The story took place at ground level and below (excepting one scene) in the ruins of Toronto. The crumbling remains of the vertical skyline dominated the aesthetic of the story, much of which was set in what is now the downtown core of the city.


But that was kind of wordy. So I tried shortening it to, “City of Bone.” I was… unaware of Cassandra Clare at the time. A friend pointed out to me that there was a book currently hot on the market and in a category pretty darn close to mine by that name. So that name was out and I went back to the drawing board.


And then the same friend who’d warned me about “City of Bone” asked why I didn’t just title the book “The Black Trillium.” After all, the secret society was central to the action of the story. Even though the story had shifted in the telling as Savannah became more interesting to follow than Kieran, her relationship to the rebel sect, especially in the way she dealt with her skepticism with them, remained central to the story. And the other two lead characters were both defined by their relationship to the sect. Kieran a member, Kyle obsessed with hunting them. It made sense.


And I saw that the second he pitched it.


So I called it that. And it stuck.


(Of course, after I published I found an old and disused copy of a high fantasy novel that also went by that title, so I didn’t entirely escape the “City of Bone” problem, but it was a minor work of a deceased author so I was somewhat less concerned about people confusing the two.)



Simon McNeil is the author of The Black Trillium, a story of revolution and martial arts
set in the ruins of Toronto. This novel is published by Brain Lag Publishing.
He is an online marketing communications specialist with a major educational
institution when not wandering the world looking for trouble. He is a
life-long martial artist, has published several articles in Kung Fu
Magazine and he’s probably a little bit too fond of kung fu movies.
He lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife who has happily laid out rules to prevent the
sword-through-glass-lampshade incident from ever happening again. The
Black Trillium is his first novel.
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