A novel-in-stories

The Crystal Ballroom red and black book cover

Three weeks till launch of my second novel ‘The Crystal Ballroom’, a novel-in-stories.

So what is a novel-in-stories? One famous example  is Elizabeth Strout’s Pullitzer Prize-winning ‘Olive Kitteridge’.

‘A penetrating, vibrant exploration of the human soul, the story of Olive Kitteridge will make you laugh, nod in recognition, wince in pain, and shed a tear or two.’ – Goodreads

‘In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge.’

yellow Olive Kitteridge book cover

A novel-in-stories, or connected short stories that together become more than the sum of their parts,  is also known as a short story cycle.

‘A short story cycle (sometimes referred to as a story sequence or compositenovel) is a collection of short stories in which the narratives are specifically composed and arranged with the goal of creating an enhanced or different experience when reading the group as a whole as opposed to its individual parts.’ – Wikipedia
The Canterbury Tales book cover
‘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.’ – Writer’s Digest

‘The Crystal Ballroom’ is connected by place and by a first person narrator and her friend who exchange stories about the characters they meet at the singles dances as they search for a regular dance partner.

The book will be launched by Stephen Matthews on 1 July in downtown Melbourne at Collected Works Bookshop at an afternoon of launches and book reading to celebrate Ginninderra Press’s 21 years of independent publishing.

Counting down. Can hardly wait.

11 thoughts on “A novel-in-stories

    1. yes, i should have mentioned the novel in stories angle before. it’s just that in the past, saying ‘short stories’ has been like saying a dirty word as far as publishing is concerned. short stories don’t sell, unless you are very famous. my first book was a novella, but i don’t say that either. for the same reason. buyers in book stores don’t feel they get value for money, so book stores don’t order them 😦 anyway … it’s a tough gig this writing business, but very grateful to be published. yes, Olive Kitteridge is a brilliant novel, i agree.


      1. I think writing a collection of short stories is hard work. It is like being in a constant state of turning inspiration into stories. It’s exhausting. At least with a novel (or novella) you only have one story to develop.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. yes, you’re right Kathryn. writing a collection of short stories is hard work. exhausting. but some of us are sprinters and others marathon runners 🙂


  1. I love how short stories are finally gaining a solid and hard-won place in fiction and I’ve read a few novels based around loosely connected short stories, one such is Rachel Joyce’s ‘A Snow Garden’ which is superlative. Best of luck with your book, Libby; I love its premise and I’m sure it will do very well! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

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