July 19, 2012

How to Name a Witch: Bubble to Babbling, By Steve Shilstone

Editor's note: Below, Steve Shilstone outlines how one of his characters, a witch, got her name. Steve recently had a book released, called The Blue Hills. It's part of his e-book series for readers in grades five through nine (and older readers, as well, I suspect). You can learn more about Steve's writing at his site, Fiddleeebod and at his publisher's site, Wild Child Publishing.

Jane Horrocks
Well now, if you’ve got a hankering to write a fairy tale, you’ll be wanting to collect a few characters for starters. To avoid a lot of discussion, let’s just say you choose to start with a witch and a troll. Yes, you might have said princess or fisherman, but then we’d be stuck with discussion, wouldn’t we? And we don’t want that. So we’ll go with witch and troll. Hmmm, now that I’ve thought about it, let’s simply narrow it down to witch, shall we? Good. So here is how an almost perfectly sane writer found his witch.

Once upon a time there was a very fine English actress named Jane Horrocks. And in the equally fine English comedy television series, Absolutely Fabulous, she played the role of  Bubble, a delightfully confused airhead. One day it happened that a poor scribe who had never chopped wood or milled grain or made a shoe or sewn a suit was inspired to write a story about a lavender witch living on a strange world of magic and trolls and dragons. Being a great admirer of Absolutely Fabulous, the scribe decided to assign to his witch the personality of Bubble. And so, taking up his quill and dipping it into his pot of purple ink, the scribe wrote out for the first time the witch’s name, Babbling Jam Hatrack. For, you see, he took Bubble and altered it to Babbling. He took Jane and turned it to Jam. He took Horrocks and made it into Hatrack. Bubble Jane Horrocks became Babbling Jam Hatrack. And the lavender witch came to life and led the scribe through many tales until finally she revealed her true name to be Babba Ja Harick and told the terrible tale of her evil sister, Semma Ja Harick, who flew down the Well of Shells portal to Earth and came to a nasty end in a gingerbread cottage oven. Babba Ja Harick continued to fly the sky on her broom and tend to her crystal ball on the world of Boad until she retired to a peaceful cottage beyond the Blue Hills. And she’s still there to this very day unless she isn’t.

Babba Ja Harick
Bio: On his journey to becoming an elderly benign hippie lite loon, Steve Shilstone earned a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, coached youth baseball for 25 years, enjoyed fatherhood, distributed mail for the US Postal Service, and sketched and painted and cartooned and wrote with varying degrees of success.


  1. That was utterly delightful! What a marvelous guest post. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. I love it, Steve! What a delightful story of how Baba Ja Harick came to be and how she got her name.


  3. I enjoyed Steve's funny and enlightening account of how his witch character came to be named...as much as I enjoyed Ab Fab back in the day. ;)

  4. Brilliant! Oh I am off to buy these books for my neices and nephews (my friends' children as I only have furry kind who don't tend to notice my reading to them ) thank u!

  5. I thought this was an interesting piece on how a character was created for a tale. Though it kind of seemed maybe the character was used for more than one tale as it said it was used through many tales. It has me wondering how many of these writers came up with their characters. How did they come up with the idea for Snow White, Cinderella, or even Beauty? How did they come up with the idea of the dwarfs or even the wicked step mothers? It’s a good piece in my opinion for anyone who wishes to write a fairy tale or even a story. It informs you that if you have difficulty coming up with a character then you can just find a name from a story or show you like and transform the name into something original, you can even take the basis of the character and go with the idea making changes here and there to make it your own.

    Brandon Dell