Cats of Waverley Manor (WIP)

In late February 2019 I started a new project, a YA novel whose working title is The Cats of Waverley Manor. It's about a bereaved young girl whose dog has been missing for months, and who moves into an apartment building full of cats. But the cats aren't quite what they seem, and guard strange secrets along with the remnants of broken magic.

Photo by Pacto Visual on Unsplash

I'm aiming for it to be around 60-70,000 words, though after Starfighters I'm aware that I may go over. (Since it's YA I'm going to try hard to keep the first draft under 85K.)

UPDATE: I finished the draft (150,000 words, oh well!) in October 2019 and put it aside to work on the revision of Starfighters, which took a year and a half (!). With that mostly complete, I started revising The Cats of Waverley Manor in July 2021. Target is to finish revising in early 2022.

I'm building it from scratch using Holly Lisle's How To Write A Novel class. This is really cool because I started with no previous ideas -- completely from scratch -- and was able to build up the foundations for a novel-sized idea in about week, then start the first draft. After only a week of drafting I'm already falling in love with the story, setting, and characters and excited to see where it goes!


Because of the limited pre-planning nature of How To Write A Novel, I don't know a lot about this story yet. But here is what I've got from my class assignments so far.

Lesson 2: Artifact-Based Idea Summary
Beneath an old walk-up apartment building, a society of cats led by Grandmother Cat guards a terrible secret: remnants of old magic that they and other animals paid dearly to scatter across the worlds.

In that old war, alliances were betrayed, and the cats now distrust other animals, especially dogs. Thanks to their influence, no dog has lived in the building for a hundred years. Even newcomer cats are distrusted until they swear fealty to the cats’ sacred mission.

A troubled young girl moves into the building. While the rest of her family have moved on, the girl still clings to the hope of finding her pet dog, gone these many months.

Meanwhile, the Enemy (or a disciple?) from the old war is consolidating his forces, seeking  and collecting the scattered remnants of his power. Little do the cats know they are among the last remaining guardians…
Lesson 3: Character Summaries
The girl who recently lost her father and her dog, but unlike her family, believes the dog is still out there — and that she can find him. (28 words)

The ancient grandmother cat who suffered unimaginable betrayal in a long-ago war and, walled off from the wider world, believes the broken magic her cat-folk protect is safe. (29 words)

The sorcerer-cat who, banished from his kin, has become a cunning disciple of the long-dead Enemy and is hunting remnants of the old magic across the worlds. (28 words)​