I was recently interviewed for Mystery & Suspense Magazine about writing crime novellas, and to share some thoughts on why novellas can be a really good length for crime stories, and why so few crime writers write them.
If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, then you’re absolutely right. It is contradictory. But, as I mention in the interview – alongside a host of fantastic authors, I might add – novellas work for me in many different ways.
I wrote my very first Maratse novella: Katabatic between the Fenna novels and Seven Graves, One Winter. The experience was liberating, and I was consumed by the story, inspired by the length, and motivated to write more.
I wrote a lot more.
And with each novella I wrote, I allowed myself to explore topics, writing styles, and new characters within a ‘safe’ and supportive story format. Safe in this context hopefully doesn’t mean boring, as I had so much fun writing Maratse’s novellas, and that fun spilled over into the Greenland Missing Persons series too.
I don’t go in for padding. A story is the length it needs to be, and if that length is a novella, and it works, then it makes no sense to pad it out to hit publishers’ (and readers’) expectations of longer works. Some stories demand more pages, and that works too. But a story is meant to entertain, and I’m sure we’ve all read stories that could have been 100 pages shorter. Likewise, many readers who have enjoyed my novellas often wish they were a bit longer.
I understand that too.
And so I still write novels.
But I’m itching to write more novellas.
However, I think it’s best to return to this topic later, and give you a chance to read the article first.
The interviewer, William Burton McCormick, is an established author in his own right, and has recently published one of his award winning short stories.
I’ll be back with more thoughts about novellas and short stories later.