Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bye Bye Baby: Fast, hard, cheap and good


"In the car, Erica said, `I don't know whether to laugh or cry.'"

Allan Guthrie's Bye Bye Baby is fast, hard, twisted and, thanks to a publishing quirk, cheap.

The novella's publication was pushed back to 2013 and, in the interim, Guthrie secured electronic publication rights. That's why you can read this affecting, ingenious kidnapping tale with a twist for $2.99.

Guthrie wrote Bye Bye Baby for Barrington Stoke's series of crime stories for adult reluctant readers. What does this mean for enthusiastic readers? A story that moves quickly, in short chapters of crisp prose, with plenty of plot turns to hold the attention, and characters you can love and others you can hate. And what's wrong with that?

Like Guthrie's full-length novels, Bye Bye Baby is sly, noir as all hell (more noir than some, actually), and it just might bring a tear of pity to your eyes. It's a police procedural filled with incident and back story, and man, what an ending.
***
Click here for a discussion of the challenges and, just maybe, the possibilities involved in publishing novellas and other short crime fiction.

G© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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17 Comments:

Blogger Linkmeister said...

Pursuant to the earlier discussion, several well-known sci-fi authors have been publishing chapbooks recently. Scalzi's done it, and I think some of his friends are doing the same.

August 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I don't know much about the science fiction publishing scene, but I imagine opportunities for publishing short fiction have dried up in that genre just as they have in crime fiction.

August 29, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I think shorter pieces are going to make a come back though, as ebooks begin to make length less relevant. If John Scalzi or any "name" author has written a new piece, his fans are going to want to read it, no matter what category it falls into.

I predict that short stories, and especially long short stories, are going to benefit greatly by the ebook market.

August 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I hope you're right. I suggested that that could happen when I first wrote about "Bye Bye Baby" a couple of weeks ago.

The estimable Donald Westlake wrote about the difficulty of finding a market for such an in-between form as the novella. Authors would have to get used to writing them again, I suppose. What would it take to get that happening? An award for novellas, maybe.

Westlake's own contribution to the form (and a superb one it was) was part of Ed McBain's one-off Transgressions project a few years ago -- not part of a sustained effort.

August 29, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

JD Robb (Nora Roberts) has been publishing a novella featuring her Eve Dallas character once a year for the past four or five years. They're collected with three other novellas and released in November or December.

August 30, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And the Transgressions series was assembled by one of the biggest names in American crime writing, McBain, and included stories by McBain, Westlake, Walter Mosley and Anne Perry, among others. Maybe it's just the big names who could get away with publishing material of such an unusual length. Five Leaves Publications in the UK publishes novellas by Allan Guthrie and others. I wonder whether this series is an exception, or whether British publishers have been more open to novellas than American publishers have.

E-books, if they must exist, ought to open the form up to to more writers

August 30, 2010  
Anonymous Al Guthrie said...

Thanks for the terrific review, Peter. Much appreciated. Re finding a home for crime novellas with publishers: very difficult indeed whichever side of the Atlantic you're on. Mine were commissioned, but The Pulp Press accept unsolicited submissions for stories around 23,000 words.
http://www.pulppress.co.uk/

August 30, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, your mention of novellas conjures up only one thought in my head: Heinrich von Kleist.

Is there a link between Guthrie and Kleist? Well, probably not. But Kleist's novellas are the best I've ever read.

For instance, in the Marquise of O, a lady, of impeachable reputation, puts an announcement in the newspapers, informing the world that she is in a certain condition (pregnant) and requesting that the gentleman responsible for putting her in this condition should come forward.

She genuinely doesn't know who the man is. And, of course, the story eventually resolves the mystery. But is it a crime novella? Perhaps it is, or perhaps it isn't. I really don't know. The boundaries in 'art' or 'fiction' are frequently porous and no more so that in Kleist's fiction.

August 30, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Al, I'd say three cheers to the Pulp Press. And you're quite welcome.

Hmm, could novellas' low prices be a selling point in these economic times? And do many authors even try to write 20,000-word stories these days?

August 30, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

OK, stupid Q. If it's hard to place such stories, why would writers write them? So, a new question: Would novellas require a big adjustment for authors accustomed to pieces one-quarter or four to five times that length?

I'd read all of Donald Westlake's Dortmunder novels, and it was interesting to see the changes he made when he shifted to novella form for Walking Around Money in the Transgressions collection. For one thing, he stripped the Dortmunder gang down to just Dortmunder and Kelp.

August 30, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Solo, I wonder what sorts of factors influence a given form's popularity or lack thereof. Why is the novella popular in one period and hard to find in another?

I suspect this is at least as much a matter of methods of distribution as it is of public taste.

August 30, 2010  
Blogger Paul D. Brazill said...

Looks good. I've read the short story version of Bye Bye Baby a -in SHATTERED- and loved it.

Good call regarding PULP PRESS, Alan. I've read a few of their books and liked them a lot.

Tony Black's got one coming up for Pulp Press, soon.

August 31, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Paul, the short-story version of "Bye Bye Baby" is included as an extra with the novella. It's nothing more than the core of what turns into the novella, and all the expansion and new direction work quite nicely. You'll find it well worth dropping a few zloty for, I think.

August 31, 2010  
Anonymous Al Guthrie said...

"Would novellas require a big adjustment for authors accustomed to pieces one-quarter or four to five times that length?"

I'm pretty sure most authors have ideas that aren't big enough for novels but require a bit more space than a short story.

"Is there a link between Guthrie and Kleist?"

Yes, indeed. We share a middle name. Sort of. Thanks for the tip. Must check him out. There's a strong novella tradition in Germany and France. They're not afraid to publish short books. There's a recent example, a 120-page small-press published US novel(la) called DECOMPOSITION by J Eric Miller (highly recommended), picked up by Lattes in France and sold extremely well.

And thanks, Paul!

August 31, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I remember seeing small, cheap editions of great works on sale in France for 1 euro, works that, in the U.S., would be packaged with other works or padded out with introductory material to reach 175 or more pages.

But in France, these short, great books were published at a popular price in popular venues. I bought one in a supermarket.

August 31, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

You might be interested to know, Peter, that besides being the title of the only half-decent song The Bay City Rollers ever recorded, 'Bye Bye Baby' was also the assembled Manchester City fans farewell mantra to the the unlamented Brazilian, Robinho, as he departed the club to the welcoming embrace of Signor Silvio Berlusconi's AC Milan

September 07, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Bay City Rollers. There's a reason for Allan Guthrie not to be proud of his Scottish nationality.

Some of Guthrie's titles are tributes and references to earlier crime-fiction titles: Two Way Split to Gil Brewer's The Three-Way Split, for example, or Savage Night to Jim Thompson's novel of the same name.

September 08, 2010  

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