Saturday, November 20, 2010

Darklight on…Shona Husk: The allure of the novella

If you ask a dozen authors about their journey to publication, it’s very likely you’ll get 12 different answers as there is no one size fits all path. I took a seemingly random trail through the woods.

After writing 2 novels, and taking nearly 4 years to do so, I decided I needed another option otherwise I was going to spend years writing books no one would see. I needed a faster way to learn how to craft a compelling story.

Instead of short stories I decided on novellas. Novellas are bite sized stories that still have a story arc, but lack subplots, yet are long enough to develop characters and build a world.

I read lots of them and did some market research before I started so I knew what the epublishers were looking for with regards to genre and word count. Then I wrote four one after the other. With four very different heroes and heroines. These stories were linked by the band Lucinda’s Lover, a Vampire electric string quartet. The first story, Kissing Phoenix, will be out next year. Over the next 12 months I wrote my 3rd novel and four more novellas…then I started selling (but not in the order I'd written them).



Novellas taught me how to write tight and keep the focus on the romance. But also the freedom to try something different while knowing that if it failed it hadn’t taken long to write. I dabbled in different genres, erotic romance, fantasy, paranormal…and I still have a historical I’d love to write.

So if you’re wondering if you could switch genre, or want to test out your voice in first person why not dip your toe in the short end of the pool and try out a novella. Pressed for time or have small children but want to keep writing?

A novella could be the answer.

Boyfriend in a Bottle and An Elemental Tail are out now, and How to Breathe Fire and Kissing Phoenix are out in 2011.
You can find Shona’s website here
And blogging with the Winkgirls

12 comments:

  1. What a particularly stunning cover you have in HOW TO BREATHE FIRE, Shona. It's so striking! What are you working on now?

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  2. Excellent post, Shona! I think novellas are something that every writer should have a go at -- even purely as a writing exercise to challenge yourself. They really do take discipline and focus. And by crikey, girl, looking at all those lovely covers, you've really got those qualities in spades!!! Congratulations on all your releases *VBG*

    So why not give a novella a go? You might surprise yourself! And nothing you write is ever wasted. A novella that doesn't quite work can always be used as the basis of a novel, too.

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  3. I love writing novellas! But I also love them as a reader. Sometimes you just don't have the time/mental space to commit to reading an epic, but a tight, tense novella -- yes, please! Channeling my "Masterchef" TV watching, I think novellas are like (sauce) reductions -- all intensity of flavour with a wow factor.

    Great post, Shona :)

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  4. Shona you are amazing - your novellas are fantastic (I know, I've read them all!). You are also very modest - from reading your drafts I know your novels are equally as good and I can't wait to get my hands on them when they are published.

    Congratulations on your success.

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  5. I adore Shona's novellas. Lucky me, I've read nearly all of them too. Everyone is in for a treat when How to Breathe Fire is released - the story is as gorgeous as the cover!

    I think the research you did really paid off in the results you got with publishers.

    H! :)

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  6. Thank you, Kylie. The cover for ‘How To Breathe Fire’ is very striking.
    I’m working on the edits for Kissing Phoenix. I seem to spend a lot of time editing these days. But I did plot my next paranormal romance novel while on the Winkgirls writing retreat and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it early next year.

    True, Maree. No writing is ever wasted.

    I love reading novellas, Jenny. I think they appeal to many readers because they are short.

    Hi Donna! The novels are coming. There was a change of publisher but as soon as I have release dates I will let everyone know.

    Knowing the market is important…that said I don’t think I ever wrote to it. I wrote what I liked and tailored it to suit.

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  7. I always love picking up a novella when I want a quick read. It usually takes me about 6 - 8 hours to finish a novel and sometimes I'm either not in the mood or don't have the time. When that's the case, I automatically head towards the novella. I like something that's got a fairly well developed story arc and novellas are satisying short reads for me. Anything shorter and I feel as though nothing's well developed enough and I'm left unsatisfied.

    Love your covers, esp the one for How To Breathe Fire.

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  8. After your success I keep saying I'm going to write a novella.
    But I've still yet to do it. Like youI think it's important to do research
    that's what I should do. Great post.

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  9. You're a dynamo, Shona and an inspiration! Congrats on everything! You have done so well. :)

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  10. Congrats Shona,
    novella's are such fun to write!! Your covers are fantastic =)

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  11. Great suggestions for writers exploring other genres. Congrats on all your sales!

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  12. Shona, your story is very inspirational. I started a novella last year and just started a new one too. I enjoy writing them. It combines my love for the short story with the love for the novel. Great marriage :D

    Sorry I'm late - one of those weekends.

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