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?
I had so much fun with this question – a real trip down memory lane to songs I loved, but choosing ones I loved that were also time-appropriate and in some way reflected the main character’s story was more difficult. But I reckon this would work:
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.