Tuesday 29 July 2008

CSNI -- We Haven't Gone Away You Know

Things have been a little quiet around here the last few weeks. This may happen from time to time as there are only so many hours in the day and I'm still trying to be a crime fiction writer as well as a reader/blogger, family guy, full time public servant and amateur mountain biker. This week and last I donned the crazy writer cap and I have mostly been reworking the novella that inspired my screenplay, The Point. I set out to expand it into a short novel in a bid to sell it as a standalone. Previously, I'd been attempting to flog it as the main attraction in my short story collection, but as I've yet to sell a novel, nobody wanted to touch that with a ten foot sewer rod. And the effort has paid off. Sort of. The Point will be, once I've finished work on two new scenes, a 40K word novel. Great! My third book! Except, 40K is only just crossing the technical wordcount for a novel.

In reality, books this short are pretty unattractive to publishers. The real sweetspot is about 70-80K and up, depending on the house. Two places have agreed to take a look, but after they have, rejected it (not pessimism -- simple probability), what the hell am I going to do with it? Anyone? Seriously, this is not a rhetorical question. I'd like a sensible answer to this. As a marketable commodity, it's got a unique selling point, in that there's a very good chance that The Point will become a film in some shape or form in the future, but again, t'is only a tiny wee 40K. The simple answer, I suppose, would be to add more words, but for the life of me I can't think of anything that would constitute as obvious padding. I don't know.

Anyway, why am I bothering you lot with this ramble? You're here to read about the ones who have sold their books, right? Well, stay tuned. You won't be disappointed. This week I hope to have a review of Lucy Caldwell's heart-wrenching Where They Were Missed, further reviews contributed by those fine CSNIers, Mike Stone and Tammy Moore, and I have made contact with one Eugene McEldowney who's agreed to answer a few questions for us. So keep clicking here, NI crime fans. We're getting back on track.


Michael Stone said...

You've been quiet? I hadn't noticed!

40k is what I'd call chapbook sized, so you might want to check out a lists of chapbook publishers, like the one here:

I just finished John Connolly's 'Every Dead Thing'. Expect a review in a few days.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

If you're reviewing, hope you'll take the time to read THE INFERNO COLLECTION, my mystery for Five Star/Gale. It's in libraries throughout the country so I'm not encouraging people to shell out for a hardcover book.

Jacqueline Seewald

adrian mckinty said...

I just want to wish you well. I've got nothing to flog, mate. All my books are slipping out of print, so I expect the posts from me will become angrier and more unpleasant as time goes on. Probably hear me muttering things like "f**king kids, what do they know, with their hip hop music and their hair cuts and their iPods..."

Sorry got a bit sidetracked there. I actually wanted to make a practical suggestion. Yonks ago when you were still in short pants and I was an illegal immigrant in NYC, I published this novella called Orange Rhymes With Everything (1998, Morrow). Now I only had about 35k words for a story and no one wanted it, but I also had another 30k of a different story, so what I did was parallel both stories, in alternate chapters, tie them together a bit and sell it as one book. Morrow bought the whole concept and published it. The book is now out of print, but it got my foot in the door. Just an idea.


Gerard Brennan said...

Mike - Thanks for that list! I'll be sure to check it out. And I look forward to that review.

Jacqueline - I'll keep an eye out for your book. Feel free to email (gerardforpresident(at)yahoo.co.uk) if you want to do an interview.

Adrian - That idea is so crazy it might just work! I could cannibalise my first effort at a novel and use the crime type chapters, but I'm not so sure the two styles would marry. Hmmmm definitely food for thought.

RE Orange Rhymes With Everything... Blackstaff Press here in Belfast recently reprinted a number of Glenn Patterson titles. I wonder would they be interested in yours? In the meantime, I'll check with Dave Torrans and see if I can't get a copy of it off him. And I still have to ask him about that Hidden River hardback he has.


Stuart Neville said...

I started a book just before my agent nabbed me, and I really like the idea, but I'm fairly sure it'll struggle to pass the 40k mark. I'm thinking along the lines of when GHOSTS comes out, or just before, I'll bundle this novella with some short stories and give it away as a free e-book. I've also got an older full length novel I may give away, too. In these days of the internet, and everyone consequently wanting stuff for nowt, I think it's an avenue worth exploring - certainly better than letting it go to waste.

adrian mckinty said...


Dave also has my hard to find childrens books, but I said I wasnt coming here to plug...

Try my plan first before you go Stuart's route. It might work. There's an Iain Banks novel, called Walking On Glass (I think) where it looks very suspiciously he's done the same thing with THREE abandoned novels.


When I saw the name Michael Stone I got nervous for a minute, but I've been to your blog and am reassured that you're not THE Michael Stone, or at least not THE MURDEROUS INSANE Michael Stone.

Michael Stone said...


Even Iain Banks can't link the three supposedly interconnected stories in 'Walking on Glass'. What the literati can get away with, eh?

And yes, I'm the sane Michael Stone. I hear these voices sometimes, saying 'Burn 'im, burn the heretic,' but we all get that, don't we?

Peter Rozovsky said...

And then there's the Trangressions collections from a few years ago. Sure, that that had some of the biggest names in the biz (but good ones. The Transgressions book I have has novellas by Ed McBain, Donald Westlake and Walter Mosley).

OK, I know zilch about publishing, but would that model of bringing novellas by different authors together under one cover work? Find a common theme ("The Young Irish"!), and you're there!

Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Gerard Brennan said...

Stuart - I did consider serialising it on the blog, like Declan did with A Gonzo Noir, but I'm not sure how that might affect the screenplay project. Plus I'm a bit less generous than Declan and yourself. I'd like to make sure I've exhausted all possible paying venues first. Thanks for the suggestion though. It still may be a consideration in the future.

Adrian - I've only read one Banks book - The Wasp Factory. I hear he can be hit and miss. The Wasp Factory was a definite hit in my opinion, but between you and Mike's comments, I think I might give Walking on Glass a miss.

Mike - just keep ignoring them voices, there's a good lad.

Peter - Now that is a very interesting suggestion. Very interesting. Stuart's young and Northern Irish... I wonder if Adrian has anything he'd like to contribute? Guys? Come on... this would be great (for me and my career), wouldn't it?

All - cheers for all the suggestions. An excellent round of comments, there.


adrian mckinty said...


I've got more abandoned novels than you've had emergency tracheotomies. Actually that's not a good analogy, most people outside my immediate circle have had very few of those, I've found. Forget that.


A friend of mine, a police officer, a Catholic police officer, spent a day handcuffed to that other Michael Stone, the Catholic hating, foam spewing, nutcase one. It was a court appearance and ol Mike didn't do himself any favours with his antics.

Listening to voices is fine though as long as they dont tell you to invade Russia in the winter.

Gerard Brennan said...

Adrian - Damn you, you efficient manuscript selling machine, you!

Anyone else got a novella they don't want knocking about?


adrian mckinty said...


no what I meant to say is that I've got about a dozen abandoned novels in my desk. But I want to pollute your volume with them, they are all complete and utter rubbish.

adrian mckinty said...

Damn early morning typo. Meant to say: I WOULDN'T want to pollute your volume with my keek. I actually had one novel about a thinly veiled Julian Simmons as a gangster in 1980's Belfast. Yikes!

Gerard Brennan said...

Adrian - Julian Simmons as a gangster? Man, that sounds a bit trippy. Still, at least you were thinking outside the box. And I imagine your rubbish is probably a cut above most.