Wisdom Tree won a gold medal in the 2017 IPPY Awards. Read on below to find out more about the award-winning book.

Wisdom Tree, by Nick Earls (Exciting Press)

"These five interconnected stories feature multiple characters -- some recurring -- but mostly they share the same world and the same concerns in ways that become more clear the more they are explored. Whether a character is spending the day with a Hip-Hop star whose brother is about to become a father himself or with a former football player turned professional giant aspiring to write like Hemingway, these are stories about art and family and distance -- be it physical or historical.

"As you read you'll realize that, as usual, Nick Earls isn't writing about characters inhabiting the same world; he's writing about people and their lives and where they all touch each other, however briefly or however deeply. And when you climb the slide or discover long-forgotten family history with these characters, you'll share as well in their joy, in their pain, in their sadness and in their hope, in their inertia and in their catharsis."

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Feature

Ten Reasons Why We Should Embrace the Novella

Thoughts from An Award-Winning Author

1. What’s Past is Prologue and It’s Time to Turn the Page

Yes, the novella had an awkward history in twentieth-century publishing. When publishing was only on paper, it was seen as too big for magazines and too small to be a standalone book. It took up too much space in the former, and the economics were challenging with the latter – it costs almost as much to make a small paper book as it does a medium-sized one. Not that anyone actually says that people buy books by the pound but, push a bookseller, and they’ll admit they think that. Or at least that it’s a factor. So Stephen King famously called the novella ‘an anarchy-ridden literary banana republic … to make even the most stout-hearted writer of fiction shake and shiver in his boots’ because, he says, ‘as far as marketability goes, you in a heap o’ trouble’. But that was in his afterword to the hugely successful Different Seasons, a four-novella bind-up that produced three major movies. So the novella story can’t be all bad, right? It’s not. So let’s set our twentieth-century baggage down and move on.

 

2. The Novella Fits With Life

Life has never had more inputs than it does now – Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, Minecraft, hilarious cat memes, non-hilarious cat memes, and by now I think we can confidently say more candy gets crushed on phones than gets eaten in the real world (which eats a lot of candy). And that’s on top of all the things that used to keep us busy anyway – work, family, study. Those haven’t gone away. Yes, it’s an era of binge viewing and fat novels, but that doesn’t work for all of us. I know I’m not alone in stacking novels on the bedside table to read on vacation, but the novella fits with everyday life. It’s an evening, or a domestic plane flight. It’s a day’s commuting. You can read the whole thing without literally losing the plot.

 

3. It’s a Perfect Size to Read

The novella goes longer than a short story but, way more importantly, it goes deeper. Deeper into characters, deeper into story. It’s a great reading experience. You can read it in one sitting, but it satisfies in the way a novel can.

 

4. It’s a Perfect Size to Write

Maybe it’s just me, but the novella is the biggest work-in-progress I can fit entirely in my head at any one time. Some time in a novel, typically around the 20,000-word mark, I hit a spot where the beginning is out of view but the end isn’t yet in sight. And that spot goes for tens of thousands of words. With the novella, it’s all always in view. I can see where I’ve come from, I can see where I’m headed, and that puts me in the best possible position to know which particular string to pull, and when to pull it.

 

5. It Fits in a Pocket

Production costs have made us under-rate the paper novella. Get past that, and the convenience becomes apparent. If it’s a great read, it’s a great read, and that experience is worth a few dollars. It fits in a pocket and takes up little room in a purse. This is not merely convenient for authors on tour, but perfect for regular humans too.

 

6. It’s Perfect as an E-read

As Amazon knew back in 2011 when they launched Kindle Singles, the ebook and the novella are a perfect match. The price challenges of paper don’t apply, and that whole ‘fits with life’ thing back at #2? It goes double in the digital domain. Match up your commute or your domestic plane flight with the device in your pocket, and you’re reading a novella as the miles go by.

 

7. It Embraces Detail

Since Edgar Allan Poe told us we should, we’ve stripped back detail in the short story, and kept it lean and focused on its principal piece of business. The novella embraces detail, and uses it to bring character and story to the surface in intriguing ways. It’s a chance for some great show-don’t-tell writing. And it’s fun to research that detail and put it together. With a scope narrower than a novel, you’re always in control, and that gives you the confidence to look closely at everything, go down an occasional rabbit hole. It’s layered, but never unwieldy. It’s long enough to cast light on the things that matter from more than one perspective, and to do it with subtlety. And, ultimately, the reward for that kind of storytelling is passed on to the reader. A novella is a sequence of small discoveries and realisations, a minutely observed world with scope for great implication.

 

8. It Works Well in Series

You want more story? Bigger arcs? The novella is perfectly built to be self-contained, but also to work with other novellas to create a larger world, with themes and characters and other elements glimpsed in more than one, perhaps revealing something new. Episodic TV has taught us all to engage with that form of storytelling – move it to the page, and you have a novella series.

 

9. It Stocks the Shelves

That advice to new writers about not just putting one book out in the Kindle Store, but getting multiple titles there quickly? Novellas are the perfect way to do it, without compromising on quality. They offer the reward of the deep read that can keep people coming back, and when they do come back you have more for them.

 

10. It’s Where Podcast Meets Audiobook

Audiobooks are booming, and the podcast crowd are there to be converted. Audible’s research shows that people often use audiobooks at times when they can’t read – driving, jogging, housework. So they created Channels, a platform for ‘snackable’ audio content that blurs the boundary with podcasting. So audio is no longer just about the twelve-hour book – it’s now about the half-hour podcast, or the movie-length read a novella provides.


Nick Earls is the author of the IPPY gold-medal-winning novella series Wisdom Tree (and 21 other books), now available as an ebook ‘box set’ on Amazon through Exciting Press. His work has won awards and appeared on bestseller lists in Australia, the UK and the US. He is currently completing a PhD on novella publishing, and his research has been assisted by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.


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