Ask anyone to name a famous literary novella and odds on they’ll pick something written before the middle of the twentieth century: Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea? 1952. Animal Farm? 1945. Heart of Darkness? Back… back… way back to 1899….
And yet a quick scan of Amazon (other ebook platforms are available) shows how, in contrast, genre fiction today comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You want your sci-fi hit as a short story? a novella? a six-book box set? No problem. Literary fiction? Nope, novel-length only please.
Discussing this strange situation with some writer friends, it’s easy to see how this has come about. Send a great manuscript in to a literary agent these days that has less than 80,000 words and you’ll be advised to go home, get your pen out and not come back until you’ve managed a respectable 90,000. And pitch up with something less than 60,000? You won’t even get out the slush pile. As a writer turned publisher, this just seemed crazy to me. And rightly so it seems as since we publicly opened our doors to submissions of literary fiction of ANY length at Fairlight Books, some of the best writing we’ve received has been that with a mid-ranging word count – anything from long short stories by exceptionally talented short story / flash fiction writers to fantastic itsy-bitsy mini-novels that haven’t made the word count elsewhere.
So I’m very excited to say we’re going to be publishing these middle length fictions, starting from July 2018, as a series called the Fairlight Moderns.
This is Bottled Goods, by Sophie van Llewyn. Sophie is an award-winning flash fiction writer, and we’re so excited to be publishing her first work of longer fiction.
Set in Romania in the 1970s, it follows Alina, who becomes a person of interest to the secret services when her brother-in-law defects to the West.
Told in a series of short flash fictions, and weaving in a bit of magic realism along the way, it’s a stunning literary debut.
And this is Travelling in the Dark by Emma Timpany, a short story writer born and raised in Dunedin, New Zealand, who now lives in Cornwall.
Set in the wild and unreliable landscape of southern New Zealand, the novella is an evocative story of a woman coming to terms with her past as she journeys with her son back to her home town.
Details of these and other novellas in the series can be found on our website at: http://www.fairlightbooks.co.uk/longer-fiction/
As a writer, I always found it frustrating to be told to stretch a story out beyond what felt like its natural limit, so if you have an unpublished mid-length literary fiction work in your bottom drawer that has been butchered, stretched and abandoned, then please feel free to go back to the original version and send it to us. We'd love to see it!