Justinia Wright and her brother, Harry, are my favorite creations. They weren’t the first of my imaginings to spring to life on paper, but they are the ones who have been in my mind the longest.
Tina and Harry sprang to life shortly after I read Raleigh Bond’s short story “Meet Athalia Goode” in an issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine way back in 1982. However, it took seven more years before I chronicled their first adventure: Festival of Death.
What I realized in writing my first novel is that I wasn’t ready to write a novel. The manuscript went into a filing cabinet drawer and stayed there for 25 years. When I pulled it out in 2014, the book was hopelessly out of date. I kept the first chapter, with modifications, and rewrote the novel; sticking more or less to the original idea.
The result was a much better story. Sometimes, one simply isn’t ready. Sometimes, one needs to learn more. And sometimes, one must simply wait and experience life.
Vampire House and Other Early Cases of Justinia Wright, PI is now available for pre-pub purchase for a mere 99 cents. Do get a copy before the price goes up on Halloween.
This new addition to Tina and Harry’s oeuvre is a collection seven cases that chronologically pre-date Festival of Death and form a prequel of sorts. Hence my numbering of the volume as Book 0.
I enjoy short stories and short novels very much. Prefer them, in fact, to the massively thick tomes that seemed to be popular today.
The reasons I enjoy short works, I think, are two: I grew up with them and I often find I don’t have the time to do a larger work justice.
Think about it. Books for kids are short. In many cases they are actually short stories or novellas. One of my favorite books is Wingman, a YA “novel” by Daniel Pinkwater. It is a mere 73 pages of large print text and pictures. Yet, it is one of the most moving stories I’ve ever read. Good things do come in small packages. Which is why I’m baffled when I read or hear of folks who don’t like short stories because they don’t contain enough character development or the storyline is too skimpy. Some of the most powerful pieces of fiction I have ever read are short stories. Stories such as “Sredni Vashtar” by Saki, “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” by Conrad Aiken, and “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway are merely three among many.
The other reason is time. A 500, 600, 700 page novel a major time investment. Especially if I want to keep all the characters and story lines clear in my mind. That takes a degree of concentration, which if I’m busy is sometimes difficult to muster. Reading a hefty novel is something that requires, for me anyway, more than one or two sittings and sometimes reading a book of substantial length may take me upwards of a month. I’m not the world’s speediest reader. A short book, on the other hand, I can knock off in an hour or a couple days at the most.
As the average age of the fiction buying public gets younger, I think the demand for shorter works will increase. The Millennials and Gen Z folks have never known a world without computers. Statistics reveal a different pattern of reading for these people. Information and entertainment is consumed via their smart phones. They are used to short presentations which are often video. Presentations and attention spans are shorter. Think YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook, and one minute vids on Snapchat or other social media. Short is in. And considering half of all books are read on a smart phone, there is a compelling case for short fiction. I think there is a real danger that fiction as we know it might just wander off into oblivion under the onslaught of other entertainment forms. That’s something to think about.
Short is in. In spite of what Amazon and the Big 5 want to believe. Amazon’s penalty in KDP select for short works by switching to payment by the page read. The Big 5’s insistence on mandatory long page lengths for novels, so they can justify printing. That kind of thinking reveals those folks to be dinosaurs catering to us Baby Boomers and older folks, who unfortunately are facing the end of our days. Short is in, whether we older folks like it or not.
Vampire House and Other Early Cases of Justinia Wright, PI is a collection of short stories and a short novel. They were fun to write and are hopefully fun to read. They’re packed with humor, sibling rivalry, dastardly villains, a touch of love, and puzzles to solve.
I love Tina and Harry and I hope you do too. Vampire House and Other Early Cases is only 99 cents until Halloween. Take the treat now! A mere buck for a rollicking good time.
Comments are always welcome! And until next time, happy reading!Share This!