My eleventh book, The Waiting House: A Novel in Stories, is here. The title is quite appropriate, as I’ve waited a long time to get it out.
Cover art and design by Shykia Bell
Every time I publish a new book, I like to write a blog explaining how it came to be. As a multi-genre author (with leanings toward literary and contemporary fiction), I put a lot of thought (agonizing contemplation) over what to write next.
I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from my themed short-story collection, Hotel Obscure, where the same characters appear in different stories; many readers telling me that the book read to them like a novel. While it’s not a novel, it was my intention to give it that feel. So, when I decided to do a follow-up book, I thought I’d torture myself by raising the bar and this time, write a novel-in-stories / A Novel in Stories.”
In Writer’s Digest (2008), Scott Francis, a former editor and writer at WD Books, explains what a novel-in-stories is:
“A novel-in-stories is a book-length collection of short stories that are interconnected. (One of the very first examples of this genre is The Canterbury Tales; a more recent example is The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, by Melissa Bank.) A novel-in-stories overcomes two key challenges for writers: the challenge of writing a novel-length work, and the challenge of publishing a book-length work of unrelated short stories. (Few publishers are willing to publish a short-story collection from an unknown writer.) So, the novel-in-stories helps you sell a story collection like you would a novel—as long as the interconnected nature of the stories is strong and acts as a compelling hook. Another advantage to novels-in-stories is that they afford you the opportunity to publish pieces of your novel in a variety of literary magazines, which might attract the attention of an editor or agent. (Editors and agents often troll literary publications looking for new talent to publish or represent.)”
When I began writing this, I asked myself at regular intervals if I was crazy. Would I be able to do this? It was tough to come up with unique stories and tie them to an overall story arc. I’ll admit it … I thought about quitting, but not being a quitter, I kept pushing myself, and then … finally … it all began to come together.
I’d written two novels after Hotel Obscure, so I had a lot of time to think about where to set this next collection. As it turns out, I really needed the time because I wanted a setting that I could see and that I felt passionate about. As I began to write, while I didn’t plan on it, The Waiting House took on a different tone than Hotel Obscure, with a decidedly Twilight Zone theme to it … something I never planned on doing, even though one story in HO fits that bill.
Graphic by Kathleen Harryman
Here’s the blurb:
Once an opulent hotel for lovers of the Hollywood lifestyle, today the imposing building survives, somewhere, as an apartment house for those who wait. Not all know what they’re waiting for, but the residents live in flawed concert with those of undetermined existence, among relics of the past, as they wait for answers, for lost loved ones, and for purpose.
While the stories feature different characters, many of whom are recurring, each tale couples with its own unique reality … and is narrated by Conrad, the “grand master.” There is an overall story arc: part literary fiction, part Twilight Zone … both with a healthy dose of dark humor.
If you step inside, you’ll meet Ava Elisabeth, now in her 80s. After 40 years in Paris, she has returned. But why? Darah, the owner, is tormented by the sudden reappearance of her estranged mother, Millicent.
Kenny finds a way to overcome the despair of his missing wife. Fiona lives in the shadow of her once-famous, movie-star mother. Former Santa, Alejandro, punishes himself with solitude and sadness. A disturbed woman, Carolyn, waits for her TV prince to come. And Lee is tortured by random people who slide down walls near his fourth-floor apartment. Under the same roof, each soul has a different story … but all live in The Waiting House.
I’ll leave you with that as I go off to imagine a possible third collection … one that will also take much thought to develop. In the meantime, I’ll be starting a new novel.
As are all of my books, The Waiting House: A Novel in Stories is available in paperback, Kindle, and is free to read on Kindle Unlimited.
The Kindle and paperback editions are available here: (universal link)