I’ve done it! I’ve written a novella … but that wasn’t the plan

Jessica Redland - Searching for Steven - Front Cover LOW RESMy debut novel, ‘Searching for Steven’ is out on 3rd June and is currently available for pre-order on Kindle here and for pre-order in paperback here which is all very exciting. But that’s not the purpose of my post today.

My lovely publishers, So Vain Books, suggested that it might be a good idea to write one or two short stories relating to Steven that we could put release for free in the run-up to Steven’s launch. What a great idea. Except I’m not so great with the concept of ‘short’. When I first wrote Steven, he was 132,000 words and had to go on a serious diet to get down to approx 100,000. When I wrote my short story for the Write Romantics Winter Tales anthology last year, it was supposed to be about 5-6,000 words and ended up being nearly 9,000. Oops. It’s not that I can’t be succinct if I need to be; it’s more of a case of discovering that my ideas are too big for a short story.

CoversMy starting point was to ponder on the character I could use. Sarah, my protagonist, splits up with her boyfriend at the start of the book and the first thought was to write about how they got together (because I already know their full back story). I quickly dismissed this idea. Why would I take the reader on a journey where they’re rooting for the heroine, she gets her seemingly happy ever after, then I end that relationship at the start of the novel? That would just be wrong. I toyed with the back story for Sarah’s Auntie Kay who is a very intriguing character, but this would ruin something that’s revealed later on in Steven so I needed to rule that out too. I couldn’t write about Sarah’s two best friends, Elise and Clare, because they have their own stories in books 2 and 3. I didn’t want to write from a male POV either (not that I won’t do so at some point, but this isn’t the right time for me to experiment with that). Which really only left one character – Callie. Callie is the sister of the ‘handsome web designer’ referred to in Steven’s blurb. At the start of Steven, Sarah meets him when he’s collecting the flowers for his sister’s wedding. Callie’s great fun. She’s young, feisty, and tends to speak first and engage brain later. She was the perfect character.

I knew that the story needed to involve her meeting the man who she marries at the start of Steven, but I didn’t know how this was going to happen. Callie’s father died when she was just two so her brother, Nick, (eight years her senior) had always been the significant male influence on her life. A logical starting point seemed to be that she went for older men, almost as a way of filling a dad-shaped void in her life. I had no idea what was going to happen other than the older man in her life was not going to be the person she thought.

I have to say, Callie’s story was one of the easiest things I’ve ever written. It just seemed to write itself. A wonderful cast of characters presented themselves and an interesting story (or at least I hope it’s interesting) spilled forth.

But it wasn’t a short story. Oh no! It was a novella!

Raving about RhysI was a little anxious about emailing it to my publishing director, Steph, because it wasn’t what we’d set out to achieve. Fortunately, she loved it and was delighted to publish a novella instead. I needed to add in another chapter as a couple of key events seemed to happen a bit too quickly, but  the new chapter also came very easily and I think it massively improved the story.

‘Raving About Rhys’ is available to download onto your Kindle right now via Amazon – just click here – for the bargain price of 99p. This means that I am now officially a published author. I was so excited yesterday when I woke up and received an email from Steph with the link. Getting ready for work (and getting the munchkin ready for school) is always pretty fraught, so I sacrificed my breakfast to post my news and links on social media. Then I got to work and it was back to the day job and barely a moment to even let the thought that I was a published author seep into my mind.

When I got home yesterday evening, though, the bears were very excited about Rhys and decided to hold a rave, glow sticks at the ready! It was also my older brother’s birthday yesterday – Happy Birthday Mike – so there was lots to celebrate!

I hope everyone enjoys reading Rhys as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you do download it, I’d love to hear what you think.

There is a free short story to come out too, but I’ll save that for another post.

Happy reading! xxx

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