Titles are a funny thing. When I write short stories, their titles never appear until I've finished them. With novels, it’s different. The titles of three of my novels—Of Things Not Seen, The First Stone, and One on One—came even before I began writing the books. (However, the title of my second novel, Stranger at Bay, did not come to me at all. It had a "working" title for several months, but I really didn’t like it. My editor and my publisher offered several suggestions, and Stranger at Bay is actually a combination of two that they suggested.) Regarding the title of this novel, stones are significant because they were a source of comfort in Reef's disadvantaged childhood. His grandmother placed "the first stone" in his hand the day his grandfather pulled over to the roadside when Reef was carsick, telling him that the smooth-edged stone she found was a "sick-stone" that would keep him from throwing up. (I used to do the same with my younger daughter, who frequently became carsick when she was 4-5 years old. Each time she grew nauseated, I'd park on the side of the road and find a smooth, round stone—which I called a “sick-stone”—and tell her to grip it tightly. Focusing on that one thing often helped her forget her nausea.) Later, when Reef began bringing them home to his grandmother, stones became a focus for communication. They spent hours together sorting them and talking about how some were like—and unlike—each other, and it was during these times that his grandmother would talk about Reef's mother. After Reef's grandmother died, stones offered another kind of solace as he used them to vent an anger that continued to build inside him during years of being shunted from one foster home to another. It was this anger that led him to throw the rock at Leeza's car, and it was this anger that led him to throw the rock at the greenhouse, shattering a panel that Frank Colville insisted he pay for and repair. The title appears again at the end of each of the last two chapters—Leeza hears the phrase at church in the minister's sermon, and the words remind her of the importance of forgiveness; and, in the novel's final sentences, Reef holds "the first stone" that he did not throw in anger. It’s the stone he found on the beach the last day of summer, and he carries it with him to all of his presentations, a concrete reminder of where he has been and how far he has come. I like the fact that, at the end of the novel, a stone is once again a source of comfort for him.