Please welcome James Walley to The Qwillery as part of the Ragnarok Holiday Grand Tour. The Forty First Wink was published on June 16th by Ragnarok Publications.
Cutting a long story short.
It seems to be a point of significant discussion amongst authors, that novels and short stories are two very different animals, holding vastly different page turning appeal, and never the twain shall meet. There is of course the obvious difference between your average twelve pager, and the longer haul of a couple of hundred, but the quick fixes seem to often play second fiddle to their weightier brethren.
I can sort of see why, having dabbled in the world of short storytelling off the back of the release of my debut novel, The Forty First Wink. Whilst Wink is by no means a marathon read, it has time to grow into its story and characters. There's much more opportunity to magnify the hero's huzzah-ness, and the villain's naughtiness, whilst also providing a bigger canvas to paint your world upon.
This is what I found most challenging about spinning a yarn with a word limit, although I firmly believe that you can still put a lot into, and get a lot out of a shorter tale. Think of it as a story told around a campfire, it has to be concise enough to hold thrall over the wide eyed faces staring back, but not rattle on until the sun comes up. In a lot of ways, I think that's more exciting, since you have to hit the ground running, and trust in the reader's imagination to be the firework that you've just lit.
With The Forty First Wink, I spent a lot of time building each character. You find out more about them as the story progresses, and as they themselves change. With my short stories, Santa Claus Wants You Dead and Bad Little Boys Go To Hell, the reader is almost a third party observer of their interactions. It's a case of actually getting to know someone versus watching what demented things a bunch intriguing passing acquaintances get up to.
The same principle applies with the setting. In a novel, you can gradually discover the world within the pages, at the same time as, and with the same confusion/fear/awe as the main characters. With shorter stories, the onus is on the reader to accept that there's stuff going down, and run with it. 'OK, we're in Lapland with a bunch of drunk elves, and Santa's off on a murder spree.' Y'know, just for example.
There are positives to be taken from each journey. You're on a long haul road trip with a gang of rum swilling toy pirates, checking out the theme parks and pogo-ing clown cars along the way, or you're drag racing up a two mile stretch of road, with a demonic Father Christmas as your co-pilot, and a huge ramp at the end that you should probably not try at home, kids.
I had a huge amount of fun writing The Forty First Wink, because I almost felt like part of the crew by the end, laughing in the face of shenanigans, and pitching ice cream out of speeding vans at clowns. I also had a lot of fun writing short stories, in a sort of 'Yep, this is happening, and it's happening right now' sort of way. I certainly feel that the latter of the two is just as pertinent, even if you don't get to stay for lunch.
Of course, novels do look a lot nicer on your bookshelf, but that's a discussion for another time.
The Forty First Wink
Ragnarok Publications, June 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 214 pages
Marty is having a bad morning. Roused from slumber by a gang of polo mallet-wielding monkeys and a mysterious voice in his wardrobe, he must quickly come to terms with the fact that the world outside his door is now the world inside his head. Lying in wait amidst bleak, gloomy streets, deserted theme parks, and circus-themed nightclubs, lurks the oppressive shadow of a myriad of giggling, cackling pursuers, hell bent on throwing a custard pie or two into the works.
Assisted by a string of half-cocked schemes, a troupe of tiny unlikely allies, and (literally) the girl of his dreams, Marty sets out on a heroic quest to wake up and get out of bed.
Early reviews have compared it to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. Equal parts epic, funny and dark, The Forty First Wink plummets headlong into the realms of askew reality, adding elements of the macabre, and squeezing in an unlikely love story for good measure. It will take you on a journey where not even the sky is the limit, and literally anything could be around the next corner. The question is, do you have the guts (and the sanity) to find out?
Arriving in the rainy isle of Great Britain in the late '70s, James quickly became an enthusiast of all things askew. Whilst growing up in a quaint little one horse town that was one horse short, a steady diet of movies, '50s sci fi and fantasy fiction finally convinced him to up sticks and move to Narnia — also known to the layman as Wales. Since there was no available qualification in talking lion taming or ice sculpture, he settled for a much more humdrum degree in something vague but practical, and set out to find a talking lion to make an ice sculpture of.
Mystifyingly finding himself behind the desk of a nine to five job, he kept himself sane by singing in a rock band, memorizing every John Carpenter movie ever made, and learning the ancient art of voodoo. Finally deciding to put his hyperactive imagination to good use, he ditched the voodoo and picked up a pen. A few months later, his debut novel, The Forty First Wink, was born. With a clutch of short stories in the offing, James is now loving his new life as an author, and still sings when plied with alcohol or compliments.
He also recently developed a penchant for fiercely embellishing his past. He really was a singer, although The Forty First Wink may not have brought about world peace. Yet.