“Skyes” or “Skies” ?

From time to time I get asked this question by someone who hasn’t read the first book in the “Southern Skyes” series:

“Shouldn’t it be spelled s-k-i-e-s?”

I’m sure the enquirer is most likely thinking this author can’t even spell…and rightly so. It’s a valid observation, one which gives rise to a tiny bit of author concern whenever it comes up. Would you ever consider buying a book you suspected might be rife with spelling disasters? Probably not. I certainly wouldn’t.

But here’s the thing. When I chose the title I thought it would be fun to have a double meaning…a little play-on-words…a pun, perhaps. I wanted to create an image of vast blue skies and endless horizons – with all the possibilities that invokes – while making use of the surname, Skye, a major family in the story.

What I was later to learn as my author education grew was that I’d used something which is aptly termed “double entendre”. Wikipedia has a nice definition:

“A double entendre is a figure of speech in which a spoken phrase is devised to be understood in either of two ways. Typically one of the interpretations is rather obvious whereas the other is more subtle. The more subtle of the interpretations may have a humorous, ironic, or risqué purpose. It may also convey a message that would be socially awkward, or even offensive, to state directly. (The Oxford English Dictionary describes a double entendre as being used to “convey an indelicate meaning”.)

A double entendre may exploit puns to convey the second meaning. Double entendres generally rely on multiple meanings of words, or different interpretations of the same primary meaning. They often exploit ambiguity and may be used to introduce it deliberately in a text. Sometimes a homophone (i.e. another word with the same pronunciation) can be used as a pun as well as a “double entendre” of the subject.”

So there you have it. Skyes or Skies? Did I make the right choice?

Some days I’m not so convinced.