Monday, January 9, 2012

Was 2011 the Year of the Novella, a new Spinetingler Award, and other stuff

In 2011 it seemed like the novella really came out of the closet. This was largely due to epublishing. In the past publishers have looked at books below a certain word length as not being being publishable. This is a shame when you think of the length of some of our great novels. Take a look at poor James M Cain and try and imagine the conversations that he would have with a modern editor about beefing up and fleshing out The Postman Always Rings Twice. **shudders**

So why the closet imagery above? Because some novellas would still make it to the market in recent years but you would have to hunt them down. They would appear in some print magazines (Needle published The Hitter by Chris F Holm) and anthologies and collections.

Some UK publishers have been ahead of the curve with lines or entire press' dedicated to the novella. Two that come to mind are Pulp Press and the Crime Express line.

In the US Tom Piccirilli has been on the forefront of not being constrained by exterior pressures to makes works longer. Over the last couple of years he has been writing “noirellas” and finding small publishers to publish them.

Now with epublishing it is easier then ever for a writer to have an outlet for a novella. I would also argue that with busier lives readers appreciate the novella more because you get more depth then a short story and the satisfaction of finishing a longer work that explores more themes.

My original intent for Snubnose Press was to be an American equivalent of the UK novella presses. I wanted to publish crime novellas. But the realities of the submissions became apparent and we became open to longer works also.

I read 40+ mystery/crime novellas that were published in 2011. Far more then any other year. From thrillers to mysteries to crime to noir to literary there was a wide range of novellas published. Some were great and some weren't. Some I can't wait to read again and some I couldn't finish. One had the potential to be great but the editing was so terrible that I ultimately wished that it had been submitted to Snubnose instead of self-published because with a little polish it could have really shined.

Because there were so many strong novellas published in 2011 I would like to announce that Spinetingler will launch a Best Novella award on January 16th. There will be 10 nominees and a poll that will be open to the public. Voting will take place until the end of the month.

For now the award will be kept separate from the main awards because I don't know if the novella trend will continue. If it does (and I hope it does) then it will be folded into the the main awards.

-This great quote is for people who just can't find the time:

Once upon a time in the dead of winter in the Dakota Territory, Theodore Roosevelt took off in a makeshift boat down the Little Missouri River in pursuit of a couple of thieves who had stolen his prized rowboat. After several days on the river, he caught up and got the draw on them with his trusty Winchester, at which point they surrendered. Then Roosevelt set off in a borrowed wagon to haul the thieves cross-country to justice. They headed across the snow-covered wastes of the Badlands to the railhead at Dickinson, and Roosevelt walked the whole way, the entire 40 miles. It was an astonishing feat, what might be called a defining moment in Roosevelt’s eventful life. But what makes it especially memorable is that during that time, he managed to read all of Anna Karenina. I often think of that when I hear people say they haven’t time to read.

-Here is an interesting article about why does it cost the same to see a blockbuster film as an indy film (because the same isn't always true for books):

[T]he first instances of what film archeologists would actually call "movies" around 1910 featured different prices for different films. Movies were priced according to their length, stars, and popularity. For three decades until the 1940s, one theater would have the rights to each movie within a certain zone, and movies received grades (A, B, or C) that corresponded with ticket prices at those theaters. If the rules of the 1920s ruled today, Mission Impossible might be $15 and Young Adult might be $7. What changed?

Everything. For starters, the famous Paramount anti-trust case broke up monopolies between producers and distributors. Multiplexes replaced single-serving theaters. A recession after World War II coincided with the popularity of television to gut studio revenue, forcing them to rely on fewer, more expensive movies.

-Is reading anti-social?:

In our day-to-day lives, we are always trying to manipulate or otherwise act on our surroundings, whether it’s by turning a car’s steering wheel or frying an egg or clicking on a link at a website. But when we open a book, our expectations and our attitudes change drastically. Because we understand that "we cannot or will not change the work of art by our actions," we are relieved of our desire to exert an influence over objects and people and hence are able to "disengage our [cognitive] systems for initiating actions." ... It is only when we leave behind the incessant busyness of our lives in society that we open ourselves to literature’s transformative emotional power.

That doesn’t mean that reading is anti-social. The central subject of literature is society, and when we lose ourselves in a book we often receive an education in the subtleties and vagaries of human relations. Several studies have shown that reading tends to make us more empathetic, more alert to the inner lives of others. The reader withdraws in order to connect more deeply.

-Can literature replace God?:

Is it really a religious, polytheistic mindset that is required to live the good life? Or might an imaginative, literary mindset suffice? (And what is the difference between the two?) If the question is not metaphysical (does God or do the gods exist?) but phenomenological (how will we respond to the world?), why would we hold on to the experience of the sacred that the authors try to capture? Literature might, in the end, be enough.

Currently reading: Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson; Thirst by Thierry Jonquet

Currently Listening: Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir; William Elliot Whitmore; Eddie Veder's Ukulele Songs.


Chris Rhatigan said...

Fantastic to hear about the novella award. I read several excellent novellas this year (D'Stair, Bird and R Thomas Brown come to mind) and look forward to seeing your picks.

Brian Lindenmuth said...

After the nominees announce I'll make the full list of titles available for viewing by request.

And yes, folks should reach out to me and tell me what novellas they liked this year. Just to make sure that I've read it :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Interesting to hear what you think of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP.

Al Tucher said...

With TR, you can imagine him reading aloud to his captives by the light of the campfire. Now there's a story.