Finishing the hat

the Canadian cover of The Witches of New York

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover art for the Knopf Canada edition of The Witches of New York. The wonderful Kelly Hill at Penguin Random House Canada has done a spectacular job with the design and I couldn’t be happier with it! It’s a perfect marriage of history, magic, mystery and the obscure. When we get closer to the publication date (November 1st, 2016) I’ll explain more about the cover’s details, but for now I’ll just say that it holds a few clues and secrets that are tied to the plot. (I can’t tell you how hard it is for me not to spill the beans!)

For now, here’s the official description of the novel from the publisher…

The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (Moth from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and gardien de sorts (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients. All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment.
Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind? Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over what’s best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.
As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they’re confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?


a writer’s desk

Those are a few items on the shelf above my desk…cherished things that’ve kept me company while I worked to finish the book. (The gorgeous raven was painted on silk by my dear friend, Holly Carr.) As I wrapped up the last chapters of my year-long rewrite of The Witches of New York, lyrics from Sondhiem’s “Finishing the Hat” played on repeat through my head.

Finishing the hat,
How you have to finish the hat.
How you watch the rest of the world
From a window
While you finish the hat.

It’s from the musical Sunday in the Park with George, (which is lovely meditation/fantasy about the painter Georges Seurat) and to me, the song’s lyrics brilliantly capture the melancholy nature of making art. In the final stages of writing this novel I had to become more attached to the world of the book than to my life, hold more conversations with my characters than with my loved ones. (I thank my lucky stars every day for the amazing Mr. McKay who makes tea for me and brings bouquets to my witches. *swoon*)

You’d think that finishing the heavy lifting portion of the writing would bring joy, elation, a sense of relief…and it does…but then it doesn’t. As the last sentences got transcribed from my handwritten notes to my laptop, and I got closer and closer to “The End,” I was overcome with feelings so bittersweet they’re hard to describe. It was as if the characters came, one by one, to the front of the stage of my imagination to take their final bows. Who knows if I’ll ever get to keep company with them again. All I know is that for a little while I got to spend a good part of each day communing with three wonderful witches…and I can’t wait for you to meet them.

“An Evening of Clairvoyance” by Stephen Mackey. (She bears an uncanny resemblance to one of my witches.)


People, places and things mentioned in today’s post:

Holly Carr – artist

Stephen Mackey – painter

Penguin Random House Canada

Ian McKay – Creative Technician


inside the golden amber

which witch?

Something different

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