I guess this might interest a few of the writer-types among us. When you sell a book, the title on the front of your ms isn't necessarily the title that will appear when it pops out as a real printed book. That's why they call them working titles.
The original working title for The Pericles Commission was The Ephialtes Affair. At the time, you see, I was thinking in terms of an Agatha Christie title scheme. The Mysterious Affair At Styles... The Ephialtes Affair.
Then I sold the book. Or rather, my brilliant agent sold the book.
After the editors had finished recoiling in horror, it was clear the title would have to change. To start with, Ephialtes is an incredibly awkward name for a title. Secondly, affair has another meaning. Was this book about a love affair with a Greek shipping magnate?
This is the point where an author needs to be more in love with the idea of a successful book, than in love with his own words. Luckily for me, I'm entirely devoid of sentimentality. The only problem was to come up with a new naming scheme.
It was me who came up with The Pericles Commission, but it could have been any one of the five of us who were thinking about a new title. Consensus came when we realized this wasn't a Christie-like series; it was more like Robert Ludlum. So I moved from an Agatha Christie naming scheme to a Robert Ludlum naming scheme.
Having learned the lesson with book 1, you'd think I'd get the title for book 2 right, wouldn't you? I did, sort of. The working title was The Magnesia Sanction.
All was well until the editor pointed out that in America, the only use of the word magnesia was in milk of magnesia, which is used to treat bowel complaints. Perhaps that was an association we would wish to avoid.
The Magnesia Sanction became The Ionia Sanction. The city of Magnesia was in the province of Ionia, so it was an easy fix. If anything it sounds better.
Which brings us to Sacred Games. It's the first time my working title has survived!