“Women Write the Novella” Event Recap


Hi Everyone,

Well, after driving for ten hours in two days, I’m finally back at home and eager to tell you all about the “Women Write the Novella” event that took place on Wednesday night at Another Story Bookshop in Toronto.

ImageFirst of all, what a lovely independent bookstore! If you live in the area, I highly recommend checking it out. Their staff is incredibly friendly and they host bookish events all the time. This gem of store makes me wish I lived closer!

The panel was moderated by writer and professor Patricia Keeney and featured:

CaroleCarole Giangrande, whose most recent novella is entitled Here Comes the Dreamer, Inanna Publications, 2015. (Twitter: @CaroleGian; Website: carolegiangrande.com )

Here Comes The Dreamer


Fellow Quattro Books author Showey Yazdanian, writer of Loopholes, Quattro Books, 2015. (Twitter: @showeyyazdanian; Website: showey.net )



Gail Benick, author of The Girl Who Was Born That Way, Inanna Publications, 2015. (Twitter: @GailBenick; Website: gailbenick.com )

The Girl Who Was Born that Way







Anita reading 2Oh yeah…I was there too. :-) My novella is The Escape Artist, Quattro Books, 2015. (Twitter: https://twitter.com/MsAnitaKushwaha)

The Escape Artist







Over the course of a couple of hours, we discussed the novella as a genre and form for women authors and our female protagonists.

Our evening began with our moderator, Patricia Keeney, summarizing some key points about the novella which render it distinct from short stories and novels. I smiled when she read from an article written by Ian McEwan that was published in The New Yorker a few years ago, because I had a print-out of the very same article tucked in with my notes.  I’m not sure I could say it any better than him:

“I believe the novella is the perfect form of prose fiction. It is the beautiful daughter of a rambling, bloated, ill-shaven giant […] the demands of economy push writers to polish their sentences to precision and clarity, to bring off their effects with unusual intensity, to remain focused on the point of their creation and drive it forward with functional single-mindedness, and to end it with a mind to its unity. They don’t ramble or preach, they spare us their quintuple subplots and swollen midsections.”(Ian McEwan, “Some Notes on the Novella,” The New Yorker, Oct. 29, 2012; http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/some-notes-on-the-novella.)

Following an introduction by Patricia, each writer shared her thoughts on the novella and read a short excerpt from her book. Here are some of the key points we talked about:

-Emphasis on quality over quantity. Novellas “pack a punch.”

-The ideal form for this day and age. Can be read in one or two sittings.

-Novellas aren’t simply longer than short stories, they are also more complex in terms of structure, characterization, conflict, etc.

-Emphasis on the personal development of the protagonist. Tend to have few characters than novels but there are exceptions. Rules are made to be broken and the novella can be an ideal place for such experimentation.

-They offer an opportunity to highlight the voices of characters that may be marginalized thereby providing a window into another world.

-Energy and forward thrust similar to screenplays, which likely explains why many novellas are turned into films.

Of course, the insights of the panel and Q&A with the audience afterwards was far richer than this distillation but alas… Having the opportunity to hear my fellow writers read their work was a real delight as well.

The panel from left to right: Showey Yazdanian, Anita Kushwaha, Carole Giangrande, Gail Benick, Patricia Keeney.
The panel from left to right: Showey Yazdanian, Anita Kushwaha, Carole Giangrande, Gail Benick, Patricia Keeney.

Group 3

Personally, whenever I sit down to write a novella, I feel an energy and lightness that is quite distinct from the heaviness I often feel when writing a novel. I tend to write a novella between novel projects, and in terms of my creative process, I’ve found this to be therapeutic. A novella is the place where I feel as though I can experiment and try new things. I love the form because it is disciplined and yet it seems to possess an inherent freedom as well. Part of the fun and challenge of writing a novella is leaving a deep impression on the reader within the one or two sittings that they will spend  with the work. I always smile when a reader tells me they couldn’t believe how much happened in the story despite its length. For me, writing is about creating space and bringing people close to my characters and their stories. I believe the uniqueness of novellas make them well-equipped for this task.

Thank you to Patricia, the other authors on the panel, and all those who attended for such a thoughtful and engaging discussion on the novella. A BIG thank you to Inanna Publications, Another Story Bookshop and Quattro Books for organizing this event. I hope we can do it again soon!

I couldn’t end this event recap without giving a huge shout-out to my talented and thoughtful writer friend Samantha Bailey (@perfectpen; http://samanthastrohbailey.blogspot.ca), whom I’ve chatted with online for a couple of years now, but got to meet for the first time last night. It was a thrill to give her a big hug and to celebrate over drinks and apps afterwards. Thank you, Sam!

Sam & Anita

So pleased to share this recap with you!

Thanks so much for stopping by,

A :)



Quattro Books: Website: http://quattrobooks.ca; Twitter: @QuattroBooks

Inanna Publications: Website: http://www.inanna.ca; Twitter: @InannaPub

Another Story Bookshop: Website: http://anotherstory.ca; Twitter: @AnotherStoryTO



23 thoughts on ““Women Write the Novella” Event Recap

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    1. Thank you, Claire! It was a very special night, and as you said, wonderful to connect with other book folks and chat in such a unique shop. I wish places like that weren’t so endangered these days! Hope all is well with you. :-) Loved your Gaiman review by the way. I’m a big fan of his.

      1. Thank you. The best thing about the review was I’ve received lots of suggestions for future Gaiman reading. I think I saw Neverwhere on the shelf at the local library, so that will probably be next :-)

      2. Definitely! That’s what I love the most about book blogs. I always come across reads I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I haven’t read “Neverwhere” yet but it sounds very intriguing. :-)

    1. Thank you, Lynn! I’m so pleased that you liked the recap. You’ve been so supportive, it really means a lot to me. Thank you! :-) How was Thanksgiving?

      1. Oh Lynn, you make me smile! I’ll never be in danger of being famous but connecting with people is what I’m all about, so to be able to do that makes it all worth while. I’m sure you feel the same with your writing and how it’s touched so many people all over the world. :-) Oh wonderful, I’m so glad that you all enjoyed the holiday. Now for leftovers!!

  1. What a great post, it sounds like a great event and that you had a wonderful time. And thank you for educating me in the world of novellas :) and lovely to see you ☺️☺️☺️ xx

    1. Thank you so much, Elaine! It was great evening and worth the trip down to Toronto. The cool thing about writing the post was it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the evening after all the busyness and appreciate it. You know how sometimes when you’re in the midst of something it’s hard to see it clearly? Ha ha, it was kind of like that. I’m so pleased that you liked my little blurb about novella and the pics too! :-D xo

  2. Thank you for the recap, it is very informative! I don’t know much about Novellas (aside from the fact that you write great ones!), so it’s nice to learn more. It sounds like the event was fun, stimulating, and well attended. I wish I was there! Congrats on all your success, I am sure it is only the beginning.

    1. Merci merci, mon amie! I wish you had been there too! Hopefully one day soon. :-) The event was a great way to wrap-up a year that has ended well. I’m looking forward to 2016 and seeing what’s around the corner. Thanks again for all your encouragement! <3

    1. Thank so much, Janna! I’m very pleased that you enjoyed the recap. I know what you mean about living closer to the bookshop. I wish I did too! Hope you’re enjoying the weekend and thanks for stopping by! :-D

  3. Thank you for the amazing recap! Sounds like you had a wonderful time connecting with fellow writers. Plus, being able to share your fantastic book is an added bonus! So exciting!! Wish I could have been there! Incredibly proud of you!! Xoxo

    1. Thanks so much, Sweets! I wish you had been there too. Fortunately for me, you never miss a reading in O-town. ;-) xo

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