Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Boozier Style of Prose

Question of the Week: Which do you prefer writing; short stories, standalone novels or series? Why?

My Answer: Both.

Career-wise, I'm drawn to novel writing. Maybe because short stories are a marketing nightmare, and maybe because I like to read novels, so I'm naturally drawn to writing them.

But I've been having fun lately with short pieces to use for readings.

June, 2014
with ER Brown, Dietrich Kalteis,
Owen Laukkanen & Linda L. Richards
Many of you are likely familiar with an event called Noir at the Bar. I don't know who started it or where. The first one I attended was in St. Louis, I think, or maybe it was San Francisco. I've seen them advertised in New York and LA, and recently my friend Dietrich Kalteis has brought the event to Vancouver.

We do these readings in—you guessed it—the back room of a bar. A whiskey room, to be precise. (There's one tonight. If you're in Vancouver, come join us.) It's a funky space, dark and boozy, and these evenings are far too hip for the rehearsed readings I've done to death from my already published novels.

So I've been branching out. Reading from experimental new fiction. Writing shorter pieces, more contemporary, playing with my writerly voice and taking chances in this fun milieu.

Last time, I read this piece of fan fiction, written from the perspective of Toronto mayor Rob Ford. It's called High Times at City Hall.

Tonight, I'm reading the first chapter of my never-read, never-edited, not-even-finished-the-first-draft-so-no-clue-where-the-story's-going novel-in-progress.

For next time, I'm thinking of writing a dark environmental short, a dystopian prediction about what will happen if our current Canadian government keeps winning elections.

So yeah, I recognize that novels will likely be the only source of butter for my bread, long term. But short stories are a fun way to play with new writing styles, new voices, and new ideas that I haven't yet figured how to turn into full-length fiction.


Paul D. Marks said...

Robin, I think it's interesting that you're doing original short pieces for your Noir at the Bar readings. Do you think they've helped sell your books? When I did Noir at the Bar in LA I read from my novel, but maybe next time I'll follow your lead.

Robin Spano said...

Yeah, the readings do sell books, even when I'm not reading from the books that are for sale. Give it a shot!

Susan C Shea said...

I'm with Paul - thanks for the good idea. I do a fair number of appearances and not just at launch time. I sids read from my book in production last week at LitCrawl in SF, but I should try pushing myself to create something short.

Meredith Cole said...

I had a lot of fun at our Noir at the Bar event in DC (with Alan and Art) reading from a new short story. I hope I have time to write another before our next one...