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From Short Form To Long Form

I recently heard that Paul Meloy, one of the genre’s finest short story writers, was releasing a novel through Solaris Books. After so many years writing successful short stories and releasing collections, I was curious as to why Paul chose now to write his first novel and whether he faced any challenges moving from short form to long form. Here’s what he had to say:

The Night Clock - COVERThe transition from short story to novel has been a long journey, and one I never thought I’d make. I thought other people wrote novels. I enjoyed writing short stories because they were bursts of energy, like a half-hour slot of stand-up comedy or a piece of performance art: get on and get off, improvise and go home. A novel is a three-hour monologue, and you have to perform at such a level as to capture the audience immediately and hold their attention for the duration. You’re standing sweating under a spotlight and the words could dry up at any moment, or people could start walking out.

I didn’t think I could do that – I didn’t even know if I wanted to do it. But I knew I was lying to myself. Of course I wanted to write a novel. Lots of them. I just didn’t think I could sustain my own self-belief for long enough to pull it off.

So I started writing novellas, and was fortunate enough to get them published, and people seemed to like them. A lot of my friends are novelists and I’ve always kind of thought of myself as their short-story writing friend, so when they tried to encourage me to write a novel I was always modestly dismissive. Nah, not me. I’ll stick to novellas, thanks. And short stories. So, I got quite comfortable with the novella-length fiction and started another one called The Night Clock. And I was horrified to discover I had written about 30,000 words with no end in sight.

I seriously considered giving up on it and writing a short story, but the characters and the story lines, and my circumstances – I had recently moved across country and taken a break from work – all conspired to sit me down and make me push through the wall. That 40-50 thousand word mark is a bastard. And now it’s done, and it’s out there, and I’ve nearly finished the sequel, and I love writing novels!

So, how did it turn out? Jonathan Oliver, Solaris Editor-in-Chief, tells us: “Paul Meloy has long been one of my favourite short fiction writers. When we first took on Solaris in 2009, he was one of first authors I approached about writing a novel for us. It’s taken a few years but the wait has been well worth it. Meloy’s stories are poetic, extraordinary and phantasmagoric, but, most importantly, they ring true. Paul’s insights into mental health, the artistry of madness and the revelatory nature of the best genre fiction are what makes him one of most exciting writers working today.” Here’s the back cover blurb for The Night Clock:

Phil Trevena’s patients are dying and he needs answers. One of the disturbed men in his care tells him that he needs to find Daniel, that Daniel will be able to explain what is happening. But who is Daniel? Daniel was lost once, broken by the same force that has turned its hatred on Trevena. His destiny is greater than he could ever imagine.

Drawn together, Trevena and Daniel embark on an extraordinary journey of discovery, encountering The Firmament Surgeons in the Dark Time – the flux above our reality. Whoever controls Dark Time controls the minds of humanity. The Firmament Surgeons, aware of the approach of limitless hostility and darkness, are gathered to bring an end to the war that the Autoscopes, before they tear our reality apart…

The Night Clock is Paul Meloy’s extraordinarily rich debut novel, introducing us to a world just beyond our own, shattering preconceptions about creativity and mental illness, and presenting us with a novel like no other.

You can find more on the short work by Paul on the Internet Speculative Fiction Database website here, and if you would like some Amazon links, you’ve got: UK here  and US here.

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