Flash Novella

Launch party for our seven new Novellas-in-Flash!

    Something fun and interesting to look forward to in the flash fiction world! On Saturday evening, 28th November, 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm London time we're holding a Zoom launch party and readings hosted by Jude Higgins for the seven novellas-in-flash which were successful in the 2020 Bath Novella-in-Flash Award judged by Michael Loveday. To get your Zoom link, contact Jude at
    at jude{at}adhocfiction {dot}com

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Pre-orders open for When it’s Not Called Making Love, a novella-in-flash by Karen Jones

We're so pleased that Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing When it's Not Called Making Love a brilliant coming-of-age novella-in-flash by Karen Jones, who has had many individual flash fictions published in our BFFA anthologies.The novella received a special commendation in the 2020 Bath Flash Fiction Novella-in-flash Awards and you can read judge Michael Loveday's comment on it in his report. Advance sales are open now at the Ad Hoc Fiction pre-order page with FREE worldwide shipping and the novella will be published on November 4th and for sale on bookshop.adhocfiction.com as well as in print form from Amazon and digitally on Kindle and Kobo.

We love the art work for the cover by artist and writer Janice Leagra and the cover design by Ad Hoc Fiction. Another novella-in-flash to add to your novella library.

The novella-in-flash is such an exciting form and this is a great example to learn from if you are a writer, and to enjoy reading if you love excellent, innovative fiction. In the Q & A below Jude asked Karen for a play list to go with the text. She said she had great fun deciding on the songs and we've linked them here. Listen to these songs now to hear a soundtrack to a story about a girl growing up in the 70s and 80s. It will whet your appetite. Also check out Karen's tip for newbie novella-in-flash writers at the end of the Q & A, because it might just give you the inspiration to write your own.

When It’s Not Called Making Love is the story of a girl growing up in the late 60s, through the 70s and into the early 80s. It’s about navigating that leap from childhood to teens to adulthood, with a particular focus on sex and sexuality and the pressures placed on girls by society, by their peers, by boys and, more often than not, by themselves and their own insecurities.

Q & A

  • What inspired you to write this novella and can you describe how you went about it?

    Ah – well I didn’t actually intend to write this novella at all. I’ve been working on a different novella for a few years, and that’s the one I had planned to send, but it’s still not quite right. About a week and a half before the competition deadline, I gave up and thought I’d just miss the deadline, yet again.

    Looking through some flashes, I spotted a few that could work together – they weren’t supposed to be about the same character, but I realised they could be. The more I thought about this girl, Bernadette, the more I knew I could write her story. A lot of it mirrors my own experiences growing up and I felt it was important to tackle the subject of how girls are treated and how that treatment affects their behaviour and development. I wanted to write honestly about it and not shy away from any uncomfortable subjects.

    I knew straightaway what my opening flash would be and what my final flash would be, so it became a bit like joining the dots to get a full picture. I started off with about two thousand existing words and just wrote from there. Then I cut a thousand of those original words, which made me a bit panicky, but I kept going and her whole story came together pretty quickly. A few days before the deadline I’d hit five thousand words and at that stage I felt sure I could reach the six thousand minimum wordcount. In the end, the novella came in at about seven thousand words. With more time, I could have added more, but when I read it back now, I’m happy with it as it is and maybe if I’d padded it out it wouldn’t have the impact it has (the impact I hope it has) now.

  • The trickiest part for you of writing in this form and the most satisfying?
    The most difficult thing is that each chapter has to be able to stand alone as a flash. We’d never ask an individual chapter of a novel to work as a short story on its own. I found that exceptionally difficult, trying to avoid repetitions but get character and story across in each flash. The most satisfying thing was seeing the character develop through the flashes – seeing her grow, as much as she could under the circumstances, and getting her to the end of this part of her story.
  • If you made a soundtrack for the novella, what songs/music would you choose?

  • Have you been able to write this year during lockdown and if so are you working on a new project?
    • The pandemic hasn’t affected me as badly as it has many others. I’m a full-time carer for my mother, so spend most of my time at home any way. I suppose it has affected my mood, so maybe I’ve written stuff that’s (even) darker than usual, but I wouldn’t say my output has been dramatically affected.

      I’m still working on the character from When It’s Not Called Making Love – I’m working on new stories about her life beyond this novella. I can’t get her out of my head, so I’ll keep going with that until I think I’ve reached a natural end for her story. And, of course, there’s that original novella, the one that’s never been quite right, that I keep tweaking and tinkering and adding to and prodding with a stick. Maybe I’ll finally get to submit it to the next competition.

    • A tip for a novella in flash newbie? 

    Don’t over-think it. Look at all the work you’ve already created – are there connections in there you hadn’t spotted before? Are there stories that could fit one character, one time, one place? Are there themes you hadn’t realised were repeated in your work? Take those stories and shuffle them around, rewrite them, treat them like pieces of a jigsaw, then write the pieces that are missing until you create the perfect picture.

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    Pre-orders open for ‘Stormbred’, a novella-in-flash by Eleanor Walsh

    Eleanor Walsh won the 2019 Novella-in-Flash Award with her stunning novella, set in Nepal, Birds With Horse Hearts. Stormbred, Eleanor's second novella-in-flash received a special commendation from judge Michael Loveday in our 2020 Novella-in-Flash Awards. You can now pre-order it with FREE worldwide shipping from Ad Hoc Fiction and it will be released on 30th October.

    Stormbred is another brilliant novella about young women living on the edge. We are very happy that it will soon be published by Ad Hoc Fiction, the fifth novella-in-flash recently open for pre-order of the seven out before Christmas this year. In Jude's interview with Ellie below, you can find out about the story, what inspired it, the research Ellie undertook, her female protagonists and the strong presence of water that features in both her novellas. And make to sure to read her tip for writing your own novella at the end of this interview.

      Interview
    • Stormbred is the second novella in flash of yours that Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing. You won the 2019 Award with Birds with Horse Hearts and the book has been dispatched all over the world. What inspired this new novella?
      I’ve been a fan of an Ian McEwan since I was a kid and I always liked the way he wrote grotesque, surrealist love stories that almost slipped into a new dimension. Sometimes they were about obsessive stalkers, other times even stranger subjects like dogs or mannequins. It was a trope I leaned into with Stormbred; the story of a teenage-girl who becomes infatuated with a photo of a Bosnian refugee called Leonela in the newspaper, and becomes convinced that Leonela is headed for the Cornish coast. I was keen on the idea of unrealistic infatuation born from extreme loneliness, so I wrote a protagonist who had been catastrophically let down or abandoned by everyone else in her life, so this is her initial foray into an imagined reality where a woman who intimately understands poverty and hardship will somehow comprehend her in a way that nobody else has before. Ruby’s absence of faith in her ability to get people to like her is mitigated within this fantasy, because Leonela won’t understand English, so won’t get a chance to reject Ruby based on her personality, and also won’t have the means to abandon her. It’s written in second-person addressing Leonela – and as with Birds with Horse Hearts – it’s written in a non-linear narrative that jumps in and out of the fictive present, with much of the context appearing in flashbacks to the protagonist’s life at the boarding school to which she has been asked not to return.
    • What did you learn from writing Birds with Horse Hearts that you applied to writing Stormbred?

      While I was writing Stormbred I sometimes felt as if I had learned nothing! The idea felt like a non-starter for so long; I actually spent months on a first draft and then threw out the entire thing and started again from scratch. I wonder if that’s because Stormbred was conceived of and constructed in a totally different way from Birds. It’s far more plot-driven, where Birds was image and symbolism-based, and so it was a real learning curve for me to lead with a robust narrative.

      I also didn’t have to research prior to writing Birds, because the content came from my PhD fieldwork, whereas Stormbred required a huge amount of research as I had no prior knowledge of any of the elements of the story. I had to read extensively about the obvious components, like the Bosnian war and John Major’s response to the refugee crisis, and I also spent a long time on Reddit crowd-sourcing people’s experiences of being bullied or outed as gay at boarding school. I joined the Beltex sheep society and learned the care routine for March through June in detail, and read a lot about lambing practices and sheep diets and ailments. The book is set in 1993 which is before my lived memory, but not necessarily beyond the recollections of the reader, so I had to work hard to get the details right. Everything in the story is chronologically accurate down to the smallest detail: the lunar eclipse, the hantavirus outbreak, Operation Irma in Bosnia, even the release of Jurassic Park!

      I suppose the one thing I learned was to persevere with it, even after having thrown out the entire first draft. I reasoned that if I had finished one novella there was no reason to tap out before the end of the second.

    • In both of your novellas, I found the accounts of the brave struggles of the protagonists – young, poor women in testing situations – very moving. Would you agree that this particular focus on women is something largely unexplored in fiction? 
      Thank you, I’m glad to hear it’s a moving read! Both Birds and Stormbred involve female protagonists and secondary characters and there’s no discernible male presence in either of them, which is a fairly unusual dynamic. Archetypal female protagonists are usually defined by their relationships with men: even when they’re not romantic storylines, they’re still about women who find themselves dealing with a male antagonist. In reality when women are faced with struggles they seldom turn to men for help – nor do they curl up with a copy of The Bell Jar and cry – so my writing is not a political statement, just a literary reflection of reality.
    • The river was an important symbol in Birds with Horse Hearts and the ocean seems as significant in Stormbred. Is there something about the presence of water that helps facilitate a powerful setting?
      That’s true, I like to think that they facilitate strong settings and also support the protagonist’s progression through the story. For the women in Birds, the river is a symbol of subjugation. It cuts them off from the rest of the world and imprisons them in their village, smothering any autonomy in their own freedom or future. In Stormbred, the ocean is a force of duality: it takes away Ruby’s sheep by drowning them, but it’s also the ocean that will bring Leonela by dinghy to the shore. In reality it’s a source of peril for Ruby, and yet in her imagination, she re-writes it as the force that can give her everything she wants. By the ending it’s a symbol for renewal, for characters to absolve themselves of their pasts.
    • Have you been able to write during lockdown and if so, what have you been working on?
    • Yes, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to write a lot during lockdown. I wrote a handful of poems, some of which have been published, but the main thing I completed was my first novel called Stargazy which is also set in Cornwall, which I’ve just sent out for representation. I’m lucky enough to be in a group of fantastic and motivated writers and we’re always passing work back and forth, and I think that’s helped prevent any of us falling into a state of inactivity. I know it’s been difficult for writers who have children at home, so I’m fortunate in that respect. I have a rigid writing routine and my desk must be precise and never interfered with. I need a full spectrum of highlighters, a pack of Sticky Quips, a tea made with one of those teabags that affects grandiose by hanging on a piece of string, and my agave plant has to look hearty and ebullient. The distracting sound of a child’s laughter outside my window will usually send me on some kind of livid rampage, so I really am in awe of writers who’ve managed to keep working while they’ve been in lockdown with young families.

    • What is your top tip for anyone wanting to enter our next Novella in Flash Award?

    Have a ton of flash to work with. The luxury of being able to throw away massive amounts of material and only work with the pieces that best fit your project is a hugely beneficial starting point. The other thing that helped me was to continue reading constantly alongside my writing, which assisted my way into the material. I read representations of inadequate fathers, rural poverty, animal suffering, as well as many surrealist texts. Writing a novella-in-flash is like solving an agonizing riddle, but there are writers out there who already have the answers! Reading their solutions will help with your own.

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  • Pre-orders open for ‘The House on the Corner’ , a novella-in-flash by Alison Woodhouse

    Alison Woodhouse's wonderful novella in flash,The House on the Corner which received a special commendation by judge Michael Loveday in our fourth yearly Bath Novella-in-Flash Award earlier this year, is now open for pre-order on Ad Hoc Fiction with FREE world-wide shipping. It will be released for sale on 30th October, when it will also be available on Amazon and as an ebook. The stunning cover image for the book is by artist and writer Jeanette Sheppard. You can read Michael Loveday's comments about the novella in his judge's report and in Jude's interview with her below, Alison describes how she went about writing it and how it exciting she found the process. This makes fascinating reading and is very useful for anyone thinking of embarking on writing a novella-in-flash for our 2021 Award or for any other purpose.

    Synopsis: Set at the end of the eighties and early nineties, The House on The Corner traces the changes in the lives of a middle-class nuclear family. As history unfolds outside the house, an ever-deepening crisis threatens the fragile, tenuous connections within.

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    Pre-orders open for ‘if there is no shelter’, by Tracey Slaughter

    We're proud to announce that Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing if there is no shelter, the novella-in-flash by Tracey Slaughter, the well-known poet and prose writer from New Zealand, in October. It's now available for pre-order from Ad Hoc Fiction today, 17th September. There's free worldwide shipping for anyone pre-ordering during the weeks until the novella is released on October 30th. The novella will then be for sale on the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop and soon afterwards on Amazon and in ebook formats.

    Tracey's novella was a runner up in the 2020 Bath Flash Fiction Award, and we agree with the 2020 judge, Michael Loveday, that it is a extraordinary example of the form. We've copied his comments from his judge's report here, which also summarise the story:
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    Pre-order Sugar Mountain, Novella-in-Flash by Erica Plouffe Lazure

    Erica Plouffe Lazure is one of two runners-up in our 2020 Novella-in-Flash Award and we're so excited that Sugar Mountain s now up for pre-order with our publisher Ad Hoc Fiction with free world-wide shipping to join our winner Mary-Jane Holmes novella-in-flash, Don't Tell The Bees. The novella will be released for sale on the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop on 26th October and all pre-orders will be send to arrive on that date.

    Do read 2020 Judge, Michael Loveday's report on this novella and also Jude's interview with Erica about Sugar Mountain and what Erica said about writing in this exciting form. It may inspire you to have a go at writing one yourself. Our next Award closes in mid January 2021 and is judged by Michelle Elvy.

    Sugar Mountain is a wonderful novella-in-flash and we are so looking forward to seeing it in print. We also think the cover is great (image supplied by Erica and design by Ad Hoc Fiction).

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    Interview with Michelle Elvy, Judge Novella-in-Flash Award 2021

      We thrilled Michelle has agreed to judge the 2021 Novella-in-Flash Award, which will be open for entries shortly and will close in mid January, 2021. Results out April, 2021 Read Jude's interview with her below if you want to write a novella in the next six months for our Award. Michelle has many interesting things to say about the form and the process of writing a novella-in-flash.

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    Interview with Erica Plouffe Lazure, runner-up 2020 Novella-in-Flash Award


    Erica Plouffe Lazure was a runner up in the 2020 Bath Novella in Flash Award with her brilliant novella, Sugar Mountain .
    You can read Michael Loveday's judge's comments on the novella in his report linked here. And Flash Frontier has posted a video of Erica reading a story from the novella which gives the flavour of the whole story, on the Flash Frontier You tube channel as part of the lead up to National Flash Fiction Day in New Zealand. In this fascinating interview, Erica talks about her writing process and how she finds time to write flash in her busy teaching year. Plus some great tips for those who want to embark on writing a novella-in-flash. We are very much looking forward to seeing Sugar Mountain in print, when it is published by Ad Hoc Fiction later this year. Read in Full

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    Interview with Mary Jane Holmes, First Prize Winner, 2020 Novella in Flash Award

    Mary Jane Holmes won our 2020 Novella in Flash Award, judged by Michael Loveday last month with her stunning novella in flash Don't Tell the Bees. Read Michael's comments about it in his judge's report. And you can also read more about Mary Jane, who currently also happens to be the judge of our 15th single flash fiction Award, on our winners' page. Mary Jane, who is a poet, prose writer and for many years a teacher of flash fiction and other forms, has had an extraordinary few years where both her flash fiction and poetry has achieved much recognition. Ad Hoc Fiction is delighted to be able to publish Don't Tell The Bees, which is her first novella. It's really interesting to read about what inspired the story, to see inside Tom, Mary Jane's writing caravan and to have her insight into the pitfalls and pleasures of writing in this form. We expect the novella to be out later this year.

    • Can you give us a brief synopsis of Don't Tell the Bees, your winning novella-in-flash?

      A stonemason climbs the steeple of the village church to mend the weathervane his father had made many years before and falls to his death, leaving a family to survive in a 20th century but feudal run rural backwater of western France. The story’s main focus is the youngest child, a girl with a love of maths, who has to negotiate poverty, sexism and the arrival of a new road into the village where she lives.

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    2020 Novella-in-Flash winners

    Many congratulations and more details below about our 2020 winner, Mary-Jane Holmes from the UK (who is also the judge for our June 2020 single-flash Award!) and the two runners-up, Tracey Slaughter from New Zealand and Erica Plouffe-Lazure from the USA.
    Read judge Michael Loveday's report on their brilliantly written novellas-in-flash to find out a brief synopsis of each of them, and his comments.They are all very different and it is wonderful to have such variety among the winners and the special commended novellas. We hope that all three of these winning novellas will be published later this year and we are so looking forward to seeing them in print.

    First Prize Don't Tell The Bees by Mary-Jane Holmes
    Mary-Jane Holmes is a writer, teacher and editor based in the Durham Dales, UK. She has been published in such places as the Best Small Fictions Anthology 2016 and 2018, and the Best Microfictions Anthology 2020 Her work can also be found in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Spelk, Cabinet of Heed, Flashback Fiction, Mslexia, Fictive Dream, The Lonely Crowd, and Prole amongst others. She is winner of the Mslexia Prize (2018), the Reflex Fiction prize (Autumn 2019) and the Dromineer Fiction Prize (2014). In 2017, she won the Bridport Poetry Prize and her poetry collection Heliotrope with Matches and Magnifying Glass was published by Pindrop Press in 2018. She is currently studying for a creative writing PhD at Newcastle University and she has an unpublished flash collection knocking about that was recently short-listed for the International Beverly Prize for Literature. Her flash fiction 'Flock' was recently selected for Best Small Fictions, 2020.
    @emjayinthedale

    Runner Up: If There is No Shelter by Tracey Slaughter
    Tracey Slaughter is a poet and fiction writer from Aotearoa New Zealand. Her latest works are the volume of short stories deleted scenes for lovers (Victoria University Press, 2016) and the poetry collection Conventional Weapons (Victoria University Press, 2019). Her work has received numerous awards including the 2020 Fish Short Story Prize, second place in The Moth Short Story Prize 2018, the Bridport Prize 2014, and two Katherine Mansfield Awards. She lives in Hamilton, and teaches Creative Writing at Waikato University, where she edits the literary journals Mayhem and Poetry New Zealand.

    Runner-Up: Sugar Mountain by Erica Plouffe Lazure
    Erica Plouffe Lazure is the author of a flash fiction chapbook, Heard Around Town, and a fiction chapbook, Dry Dock. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Carve, Greensboro Review, Meridian, American Short Fiction, The Journal of Micro Literature, The Common's "Dispatches" series, The Southeast Review, Fiction Southeast, Flash: the International Short-Short Story Magazine (UK), Vestal Review, Wigleaf, Monkeybicycle, National Flash Fiction Day Anthology (UK), Litro (UK), and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in Exeter, New Hampshire, USA.

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