That night, it seemed empty and silent; but the church listened and waited as it had done for centuries, and the walls reverberated with the sound of the scream. With an echoing slam, a trapdoor in the church floor was flung open...
As I write this latest rambling interlude, it is just 24 days from the official release date of Holly Trinity and the Ghosts of York. I am currently staring down the barrel of a public launch event and considering how best to describe this novel, or to answer the big question – where did all this come from?
Because, honestly, sometimes it’s hard to remember. Holly has been in my life for what feels like a very long time now, and how she first came to be is a fairly hazy memory at this point. But nobody wants to hear an author mumble in ignorance, even though for a lot of us, that’s a fairly natural state. The past must be mined for anecdotes! Let us turn over a blank piece of paper, idly scribble “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”, and wait for the muses to ride a zipline directly into our brains while clouds part and the male voice choir of creativity strike up the eureka chorus.
So, anyway, in a trapdoor in a church there lived a Holly.
The trapdoor pictured above is an all-too-real one, located in York’s Holy Trinity Historic Church, a very unusual building that straddles multiple centuries and would be crying out for a story if it didn’t already have plenty. It’s perhaps best known as the church where Anne Lister secretly married her partner Ann Walker in 1834, recently earning it newfound fame as the church from Gentleman Jack. (As far as I’m concerned, Holly caught the bouquet.)
And it’s got this trapdoor.
When I first saw this trapdoor, tucked away in the corner of a box pew with its ominous padlocks, I was fascinated by what it might conceal. The answer of course is terribly mundane, which is usually the case with trapdoors. But the potential of a trapdoor is irresistible. I didn’t know it at the time, but Holly had just taken up residence under this one.
So I guess that’s the answer to where this story came from – under the trapdoor. Because a great many stories come from under a trapdoor. From people seeing things and imagining what they could be, or thinking “I know what should happen here.” As someone who writes stories set in a real place, I do this a lot and it still delights me.
Because there are always new trapdoors to be discovered and there is always something down there…
Holly Trinity and the Ghosts of York is available for pre-order on Kindle, and will be released in paperback and ebook on the 28th of October.