This is definitely a frequently asked question… The truth is that Try Not to Breathe used to have another name, a working title that, well, didn’t actually work.
When it came to renaming the story, I wanted to choose something that was inspired by the importance of music in the book. I had used Spotify playlists full of songs from the time periods featured in the book, especially the early and mid-nineties. I made huge lists of contenders but one stood out. As I’m sure lots of readers know, Try Not to Breathe is an early 90’s REM song from their huge 1992 album Automatic for the People.
This album came out when my character Amy was 12. I believe she would have liked it, would probably have listened to it in Bob’s van with him, as I had listened to this tape endlessly in my parents’ car, one of the few albums we all agreed on. Of course, it is a little opaque – I didn’t want to be too obvious – but I do think all the characters are holding their breath in a way, so for me it felt like a good fit.