Pocket Novels is the term used to describe DC Thomson publications that are neither short stories nor full-length novels. As such, they can offer an introduction to longer fiction for both readers and writers of short stories. As with any type of novel, they must provide a strong story, memorable characters and enough conflict or intrigue to keep the reader turning the pages.
They are usually sold through larger supermarkets. Some authors have then gone on to see their novel published in large print for libraries, while others have eventually turned the story into an e-book version. Not all authors want to write a 90,000 word novel, so the DC Thomson pocket novels lengths can often provide a stepping stone from short stories to longer fiction.
Anne Stenhouse was already a published historical novelist, playwright and writer of serials for The People’s Friend. Her first pocket novel, A Debt for Rosalie, has just been published by My Weekly and is available from large supermarkets or direct from DC Thomson.
Rosalie Garden arrives at Maldington House, an upmarket guest house, to work as a chef and earn enough to repay her father who has bailed her out after her Ex brought down her catering business. David Logie is the house's owner and son of the guest house proprietrix, Agnes.
Still mourning the early death of his wife, David wants to sell his inheritance. Together with Agnes, Rosalie works hard to frustrate David's plans and bring him to realise he can love again.
Anne Stenhouse has written one act stage plays and was playwright in residence with Theatre Broad of Stirling. She has published short stories, serials, novel length historical fiction and some non-fiction. Three of
Anne's historicals are also published in the Linford Romance series for libraries.
Linda Tyler, on the other hand, began novel publication with her first pocket novel, Revenge of the Spanish Princess, also published by My Weekly. Unfortunately for Linda, her novel came out during the lockdown but can now be ordered from DC Thomson. She had already written other fiction and her new novel is being published by Bloodhound Books.
When her beloved father dies with the name Lovett on his lips, privateer captain Catherina Trelawny vows revenge on the mysterious pirate. Seeking him on the Mediterranean island of Azul, she is charmed by the personable Henry Darley.
But Cate finds her plan goes awry when Darley and Lovett turn out to be the same man. Cate and Henry set sail across the high seas battling terrifying storm, deadly shipwreck, dissolute corsairs - and each other.
Linda Tyler’s debut novel, Revenge of the Spanish Princess, was published in April 2020 as a My Weekly Pocket Novel by DC Thomson. Her second novel, The Laird’s Secret, will be published in January 2021 by Bloodhound Books. She is currently seeking a publisher for her third novel, Sophie and the Marquess.
Linda has had short stories published in the UK, the USA and Australia.
Born in London, Linda has a PhD in criminology and worked as a university lecturer and as a practitioner in child law. She now lives on the edge of the Scottish Highlands, where she runs holiday accommodation and sings in a local choir. You can connect with Linda on Facebook.
I asked Anne and Linda why they turned to this length of fiction.
‘I think I gravitate to this length of fiction, actually. I have a tight style which cuts out any descriptive padding before it goes in. Having written plays for a while, I like the short dramatic scene - get in, do the business, move on.’
‘Although I’ve been writing full length fiction for a while, the editor of My Weekly pocket novels, Maggie Swinburne, was interested in publishing this story when I met her at the RNA Conference. The 50,000-word length is perhaps a more achievable length for newer writers.’
Was it easier or more difficult than writing other lengths of fiction?
‘As I haven't come straight to the PN from a 'full-length' novel, it wasn't difficult. I have been writing serials, however, and the temptation to end every chapter on a hook for next time, had to be resisted. Novel writing and short story writing are very different skills. I do find the expansiveness of a novel or serial easier to work with than a short story.’
‘Easier or more difficult depends on the type of writer you are. Easier if you struggle to get up to full-length, more difficult if you're a wordy sort of writer. It's certainly easier if you can start out thinking you need write 'only' 50,000 words. The sort of short stories I've written are very different, with things left unresolved, so I can't really compare the two.’
Pocket Novel Requirements
Length: 50,000 words. Modern romances, crime or family stories, or historical set in any period. You can see the latest guidelines on the Womagwriter blog.
The People’s Friend
Length: Around 42,000 words. Romances, family saga, or turn-of the century and wartime stories. You can download the guidelines for pocket novels and all other People’s Friend fiction requirements.