Naming the Novel

“It’s as good a name as any. And I’m not likely to forget it. That happens sometimes.”

When I first put this site together, I wrote a sentence that has more or less been there ever since – “Waking the Witch is the first novel in a series of urban fantasy stories, and is currently slouching its way toward publication.”

The novel became Waking the Witch in my head while I was writing the earliest chapters and quickly became lodged. There was just one problem – nobody has ever really liked the title that much.

For me, the phrase resonated with all the characters, both literally with Holly rising from eternal slumber and more metaphorically with both Mira and their antagonist, who embodied a potential to be fulfilled and a malevolence bubbling up from within respectively. All of them were waking their witches in their own unique way.

(It’s also the title of a particularly unsettling Kate Bush album track. I made Holly a fan in return for what seemed like the perfect clever title.)

Except it wasn’t perfect. My beta readers found it confusing. Fellow writers wondered why I never directly referred to Holly as a witch. A friend suggested I had invented a fascinating new metaphor for self-abuse.

When I began working with my editor, her first feedback was “change the title.” She offered to come up with some alternatives after she’d finished her first read-through. Even at the end of the process, she professed to still being none the wiser as to what this book should be called, but remained adamant that it absolutely should not be called Waking the Witch.

And all the while, sequels were brewing in my brain with alliterative titles of their own. Short stories were actually starting to see the light of day thanks to the marvellous Mr Duckman and friends. This novel was part of something bigger. And so I began referring to Holly Trinity and the Ghosts of York as if it was a thing, because it would be. An overarching collection of stories under an umbrella title. The first of which would be called… something.

But in the end, I didn’t need to find a new title because there it was. Everything you needed was right there. There are ghosts. In York. And there is a woman you are going to want to meet.

And so, in the end, all there is to say is this – Holly Trinity and the Ghosts of York is the first novel in a series of urban fantasy stories, and is currently approaching publication.

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