novellas

These are my novellas. They tend to come when they come, usually, when I think I'm writing something else (in length). The Scarborough Shoal Sequence are independent stories and still in production. The Novelette is the outlier. Novellas are funny things, tilting more to the short form than the long. The antithesis of the Goldilocks presumption, perhaps.

Love is a Red Balloon

Written in 2020 and just over 20,000 words (74 pages, approx), this is a coming of age styled story, with gender and diversity themes (but which isn't specifically targeted at young adults) and with a tale about love at its core, but not quite as it first seems.

Cover copy:

As far as I can work out, from examining my whole life in its complete entirety so far, humans are loud, smelly, and really annoying. Plus, they lie, like, all the time. And if it weren’t for them, and all their endless banality (my new favourite word), I’d be able to get in a lot more important thinking. Being clever is already really hard, without these distractions all the blinking time. Mum says that I should lighten up a bit and not take everything so literally, but that’s just silly (and technically inaccurate, I mean how can you take literal stuff too literally?). Sometimes Mum can be super annoying.

And then there’s the Red Balloon, which just appeared out of thin air (literally - okay, not literally, but you know what I mean), and now I’m having all these new and weird feelings. Feelings that I’ve never had before and would really rather not be having now, thank you very much. Emotions aren’t really my thing, if I’m honest (which I always am). I’m better with maths; more ony/offy. And colours. I’m a big fan of colours. Big fan.

Sometimes (well, all time time, nearly), life can be totally super odd and confusing.

Which is why I’m writing to you, because I think that I might be in, well… love, and you’re the only one who can fix it.

- - -

This lovely little story came into being after I was challenged by a dear (younger) friend to write a story with love as the theme (Penny knew just how brain-bending that would be for me; clever, clever!). So I decided to take a peek at neurodiversity, and because Penny is younger and hot under the collar about many things, I worked the identity angle.

Enjoy the sample and if you liked what you read, mail me.

The War of the Three Systems

Book One of the Scarborough Shoal Sequence

Written in 2020 and 45,000 words (180 pages, approx), this is a speculative story about three brothers and the realities of fighting wars in space (but it isn't a war story or hard military sci-fi). It does has spaceships in it.

Cover copy:

When Dillon looked up into the fading sky and saw the lights there, he knew what it meant. And, he knew that they would stay up there. It wasn’t that he was scared or anything, after all, when he grew up he was going to join the Royal Guard and fight the Shoal’s enemies in great heroic feats of courage and shouting. No, he wasn’t scared but he was confused. Why? He wondered. Why up there and not down here? 

When his grampa appeared and began to build up the fire, the boy asked that very question. The old man looked up at the raging sky and told the boy the tale of a war. A war fought long ago and far away, between three systems. A war that became infamous through the accounts of three brothers, who had each found themselves on opposing sides. A war of such singularly incalculable horror that a declaration was made that bound all to ensure that nothing like it be allowed to happen ever, again. 

Of course the real question - that the boy had asked but did not hear the answer to - was why they were fighting at all.

- - -

A few years ago I wrote a story telling the history of man, but I didn't like the writing style and binned it. This story is a salvage from that. It's about the hard realities of war once we take that uniquely human endeavour into space. I plan to retell that old story idea as a series of linked, but independent novellas. This - the first - tale is told through the eyes of three quite different brothers.

Enjoy the sample and if you liked what you read, mail me.

The Highest Hill in the Sky

Book Two of the Scarborough Shoal Sequence

To follow.  

God's holy trousers, how do I get me some o' these phantasmagorical novellas?

Good question, made-up person. I’m still trying to figure that out.

They say that with the advent of ebooks and Amazon/Kindle (other online bookstores exist) and all the interneting, that publishing a story has never been easier. They lie. It's now far more difficult because everyone's at it. Authors, channels, choices abound, and while the quantity has shot up, I'm not sure that quality followed with it. And once you self-publish well then you've given up your chance to be traditionally published (I know, I know, but you have, face it). And I see trad publishing as the true test of my worth as a writer. If my writing doesn't make a suit take a punt on me, well then, maybe I'm not the writer that I'd hoped I was.

So for the moment, if you want to read any of these stories in full, mail me and I'll be so ecstatic to hear from someanyone, I'll gleefully send you an epub to read on your reader.

Right now, this site is primarily focused on finding a traditional route to publication.
If you're a suit and like what you see, get in touch and I'll send any manuscript in any format/style you want. I'll make the tea, too, if you like.

mark j suddaby | writer