Question: When you were picking all of the Billy Joel song titles for each chapter, how did you decide? What was that process like?
See, I love that question because that is absolutely something I would wonder about myself. Okay, so originally, the chapter titles were not Billy Joel songs at all. But, since I am somewhat obsessed with running themes, I had a pattern. Well, the pattern was more and more difficult to maintain. So then I decided to go with Billy Joel lyrics, not song titles. And I loved some of those. An example of one of those...Chapter 20 in Scenes From Highland Falls is now called "Running On Ice." That's the chapter in which [ONLY A MINOR SPOILER ALERT!] Abby really starts losing touch with reality a bit, and to separate from the pain she disassociates herself from her memories. There is something in particular in her life which she wishes had turned out differently, and she thinks back on opportunities she had to do something differently. And she goes further back in time and further back in time, until she painfully rehashes the first missed opportunity. The original title of that chapter was, "I'm Not Above Going Back To The Start To Find Out Where The Heartache Began," from Billy's song "An Innocent Man." I loved that title! So why change it? Because using other people's lyrics costs money, and lots of it, and rightly so. However, titles have different rules. So then I had to start all over (the books were complete by that time) and match up song titles to chapters.
Some of them were easy and obvious (Abigail Phelps, Chapter 5 - Vienna; Scenes From Highland Falls, Chapter 22 - Sometimes A Fantasy) while others mean so much to me, and honestly still give me chills when I think about them, because I know how right the song itself is for that moment in Abby's life, or I remember having an epiphany about the direction the book was going as I listened to the song (Abigail Phelps, Chapter 32 - Shameless; Scenes From Highland Falls, Chapter 19 - The Stranger). And then there are a few, just a very few, which I had to settle on because they were the best I could do. They work, but I liked the lyric I originally had in there much better (the previously mentioned Running On Ice). But it still applies, and there is still meaning there. Just not as much as with some others.
Thank you so much for the great question! More will be answered soon, but mostly by Abby, who seems to be much more popular than I am!
~ Billy Joel