Brad Shreve Guest Post: Choosing a Risky Title

Choosing a Risky Title

Novel titles are a funny thing in that each writer has their own style of writing. There is no one way. I believe most writers develop a story line and then later come up with a title. I’ve had more than a few writers bounce ideas for titles off me. I, on the other hand, usually have titles strike me unexpectedly, which then get my creative juices going for a full story. This was the case for A Body in a Bathhouse.

Brad Shreve

I was excited at writing a mystery where a murder occurs in a gay bathhouse. At the time of its inception, I believed I had a unique idea. Further investigation confirmed I was wrong and that there are no new ideas, just new ways of telling the same story. Lindsay Davis wrote the most notable bathhouse mystery book. Her protagonist is a private investigator investigating a murder in a public bath in ancient Rome. A far different story than I’m telling.

My conundrum is most of the bathhouse novels are erotica, which should have come as no surprise. This left me with a serious decision to make. A Body in a Bathhouse is not an erotic novel. I believe it will please those looking for a good mystery, those seeking a good romance will be happy, but those expecting erotica will be disappointed. Oh, yes, there’s sex in there, but not enough to slap it with an erotica label.

This problem made me reconsider the title. It is a mystery novel. It is my favorite genre to read and to write. With that title, will I scare off avid mystery readers who will assume this is an erotic novel that involves a mystery? I shared cover ideas with sexy men on the covers with avid mystery readers. The overwhelming response was that with that title and the men, they wouldn’t bother to read the blurb. I could lose any potential future readers.

Then there’s my concern about erotica fans. Will they be drawn to my novel with an expectation it will satisfy their interest? I’m concerned they will find the title deceptive, be disappointed and choose never to read another one of my novels.

I have no desire to disappoint any reader. Is my title a no-win scenario having negative impact on future sales? I had to give serious thought to changing the it. After much consideration, my answer was simple – Hell no! Why? Because I like the title, plain and simple.

My choice is to leave it in the hands to people to read the novel’s blurb. The blurb makes it clear that A Body in a Bathhouse is a mystery novel. It also gives more than a hint that there is a romance. A satisfactory one, I believe. And yes, I enjoy a good sex scene as much as anyone so it’s in there, but I chose not to emphasize it on the blurb because, as I said, the title alone could give some the impression this is erotica. I don’t need a blurb that gives unfulfilled expectations.

No book will appeal to everyone, but I hope that people of many backgrounds, with many tastes, will find it an enjoyable read.

Title: Body in the Bathhouse
Author: Brad Shreve
Publisher: Beeson Press
Release Date: March 14, 2019
Genre(s): Mystery/Suspense
Page Count: 242


This is a whodunnit mystery novel.

On the verge of bankruptcy, private investigator, Mitch O’Reilly takes any gig that comes his way, while running his Eye Spy Supply shop in a forgotten Los Angeles strip mall. After two tours in Afghanistan, Mitch’s life amounts to operating his store, coping with his fun-loving sister, Josie, and scoring with anonymous men he meets online. That changes when he gets a break. A beloved comedy scriptwriter is murdered at a bathhouse, and Mitch is hired to prove the innocence of the club custodian. Adapting from a two-bit gumshoe to a high-profile sleuth proves more challenging than he expected.

As if Mitch didn’t have enough to deal with, charismatic bathhouse operator, Trent Nakos, enters his life. After a heartbreaking past, the manager is the definition of a man the brooding P.I. actively avoids.

Following leads from sprawling mansions to sketchy hoods is demanding but becomes more troublesome when deadly threats jeopardize the biggest opportunity of his career.

While there is an element of romance in the story, this is not a m/m romance novel.

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About Brad

After growing up in Michigan and North Carolina, Brad Shreve criss-crossed the country while working in the hotel industry. In addition to working in hotels as a bellman, front desk clerk, and reservation call center director, he’s managed coffee houses, waited tables, sold potato chips off a truck and even hocked pre-burial funeral plans.

He credits Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak for developing his interest in art and storytelling. He’d spend hours on the floor sketching and painting and writing stories. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George gave him his first inklings that he’d like to be a novelist someday.

In addition to perpetually thinking of how to kill people, he’s a proud dad, a beach bum, and coffee house squatter.

He currently lives in the Los Angeles South Bay with his husband, Maurice.

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