Guest Post: “What’s In A Name?” by Ronald Malfi

Posted: July 22, 2015 in Guest Posts, Uncategorized
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Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from author Ronald Malfi, who recently released his excellent new novel Little Girls (review) through Kensington. I absolutely loved this genre-bending novel and not only would I recommend this to other horror fans, but fans of other genres as well. Check out Ron’s post below to learn about the importance of titles and how he came up with the titles for some of his books.

Before I turn over the blog to Ron, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour dates which run through August I believe and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book!



by Ronald Malfi


I’m a big fan of a good title. I labored over this when considering the title of my current work in progress, and whenever I’m writing, no matter how deep I get into a novel, it never seems wholly real until I’ve got a title to slap on the front page. A good one. In fact, more often than not, the title of a story is usually one of the first things I come up with, as it’s sort of tied hand-in-hand with the story itself. Shitty book titles are just the pits, man, and there are some particularly bad ones in the horror genre—titles that sound like the author pulled two random words from some hat, a variation on Mad Libs for the dark arts. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about. (And no, I’m not going to list real-world examples.)

Some may argue that I’m guilty of this very sin. In particular, I’ve heard readers comment on the peculiarity of the title to my novel Floating Staircase. “Seriously?” they say. “Floating what? This is a ghost story?” Yeah, I get it, but for me, man, I just loved that title. And it wasn’t until the title jumped in my head that the whole book came together. (Prior to that, Staircase’s working title was Rooms of Glass, which I also liked, but it didn’t fit the story as well. I believe my protagonist Travis Glasgow’s publisher is called Rooms of Glass Books in the final novel, or at least in one iteration of the manuscript.)

Similarly, it was one afternoon when the name “Skullbelly” jumped in my head for no apparent reason. With it came the image of a Bigfoot-esque humanoid creature whose belly would distend as it devoured its meals—which, in the case of the novella I wrote based on this idea, happened to be a trio of young campers. The skin would stretch taut to near translucence so that the bones of this creature’s victims could be glimpsed in mid-digestion. And just like that, on the power of a single name, a single word for a title, the entire novella Skullbelly formed in my head.

And if I can be blamed for the somewhat uninspired title of my 2010 thriller The Ascent, rest assured that when it was published overseas in India, the title was changed to the more enigmatic Canyon of Souls.

Which brings me to my newest novel, Little Girls. I’ll admit off the bat that my wife came up with the title. Prior to her suggestion, I had been using the working title Sadie, which is the name of the evil little girl in the novel. I felt the book had an old-school horror feel, and wanted to allude to novels of that ilk, such as Peter Straub’s Julia, Stephen King’s Carrie, and books like that. But I agreed with my wife (as I often do), and went with the catchier title Little Girls.

Everything was fine for a while. But then the emails from my agent started coming in, subject lines going something like “Let’s Talk About Little Girls” or “How Far Have You Gotten With Little Girls?” Once the book was sold and I began corresponding with my editor and his staff, as well as my publicist, email subject lines began getting more and more…well…awkward. When the publicity photos showed up in my inbox, my wife happened to be peering over my shoulder and glimpsed the subject line “LITTLE GIRLS PHOTOS!” And if you think that’s bad, you should have seen some of the early iterations of the hashtags on Twitter about the book. We finally settled on #LittleGirlsMalfi, which is bad enough, although I feel some of the earlier attempts were even worse.

Nonetheless, I dig the title. I think it’s perfect for the book, despite all those weird email subject lines and Twitter hashtags. And if the FBI is monitoring my computer—and maybe yours, too, since you’re reading this—we’ll all have a viable excuse for when they come knocking on our door. Although your neighbors may not believe it.

So grab a copy of the book and give it a read this summer, preferably while at the beach or while riding some form of mass transit. This way, you may just have a stranger come up to you and ask how far you’ve gotten with Little Girls.

Happy reading, you creeps.


Little Girls tour logo

About Little Girls


From Bram Stoker Award nominee Ronald Malfi comes a brilliantly chilling novel of childhood revisited, memories resurrected, and fears reborn…

When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, and hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…

At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?

Purchase Little Girls: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite local bookstore

Praise for Ronald Malfi and his novels

“One cannot help but think of writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King.”

Malfi is a skillful storyteller.”—New York Journal of Books

“A complex and chilling tale….terrifying.”—Robert McCammon

Malfi’s lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia…haunting.”—Publishers Weekly

“A thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride that should not be missed.”—Suspense Magazine

About Ronald Malfi

Malfi headshot

Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including Little Girls, this summer’s 2015 release from Kensington.

In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014. December Park, his epic childhood story, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.

Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres. 

He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.

Visit with Ronald Malfi on Facebook, Twitter (@RonaldMalfi), or at


Sign up to win one of two paperback copies of Little Girls by Ronald Malfi by clicking the link to the Rafflecopter link below. Be sure to follow the specifics you can do each day to gain more entries.


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