If you’re a reader of these pages I imagine you like your entertainment dripping in noir and with the spirit of punk running right through its core. So, I probably don’t need to introduce you to Fahrenheit Press and its hard-boiled and experimental imprint, Fahrenheit 13. But you may not be aware of the levels of dedication Fahrenheit readers have for what this wonderful small press is doing. Next month is February, and I know I didn’t need to tell you that because if you’re like me you’ll dread its arrival every year. It’s just far enough away from Christmas that it feels like a distant memory and the green shoots of spring and summer feel like they’ll never arrive. But this year the fans of Fahrenheit Press have decided to brighten things up with a celebration of dark, disturbing, funny, experimental, engaging, sad, heartfelt and just plain brilliant fiction. Yes, for fans of great fiction from this year forward February has been re-branded –
The brain-child of two book bloggers, The Beardy Book Blogger (https://beardybookblogger.wordpress.com) himself (a man I only know as Mart) and Matt Keyes from It’s an Indie Book Blog – (https://itsanindiebookblog.com),
#Fahrenbruary will be a month-long celebration of some incredible books and authors that perhaps fly under your radar, but really shouldn’t. I was a fan of Fahrenheit Press before I ended up on their author list and so I’d have been supporting this initiative regardless of personal interest. But with Fahrenbruary nearly upon us I would like to highlight a format that’s much overlooked in literature that the likes of Farhenheit Press (through Fahrenheit 13) and Shotgun Honey are helping to give a voice to again, the novella. OK, so I do have to declare an interest – I write novellas (I may even have just shamelessly plugged both of my publishers in the last sentence), but I was a fan first, and I reckon if you’re reading these pages you might be too – but there’s a chance you don’t even know it yet.
Between 2013-15 an incredible project popped up called Number 13 Press. The mission, publish 13 novellas in 13 months. It was run by Chris Black and fuck did he achieve that mission. He published 13 brilliant individual pieces of fiction that found wide critical acclaim and gave readers new voices to read. I was lucky enough to be the tenth ‘Thirteener’ and I found myself amongst some truly astonishing company, the likes of Matt Phillips, Grant Nicol, Paul Brazill, Graham Wynd, B. R. Stateham, Robert White, Mark Ramsden, Richard Godwin, Ariana D. Den Bleyker, Steve Finbow, Michael Young and Turlough Delaney. All unique voices bringing something different to the shorter form of writing. And, having recognised what a great and diverse collection of books Chris Black had put out, at the start of 2018 Fahrenheit Press took Number 13 Press under its wing and Fahrenheit 13 was born. So, this post is not only here to make you aware of the wonderful reader led initiative that is Fahrenbruary but also to make a pitch that if you want to take part – and you should – you consider taking a look at these atmospheric noir novellas, I don’t believe you’ll regret a moment.
For me the novella is the perfect form and the Fahrenheit 13 collection are the perfect example of it. We constantly hear that people don’t read anymore, I get it, we’re all busy – I know I am and that’s why I discovered the novella. I found novels that I used to be able to read in a week were taking me a month or more to get through – I was forgetting what had happened at the start by the time I got to the end! Step up the novella. For me this form is so gripping, let’s take the Fahrenheit 13 releases as an example of why. The author has to quickly pull the reader into the story with atmosphere and a hook, just look at the opening of Stateham’s A Killing Kiss. Fans of Stateham will be familiar with his Smitty character and here the reader is dragged into a criminal underworld with our hero. The characters have to be so well formed that the reader will instantly understand and form a connection with them – you don’t have to like them, or even be like them but they have to be well drawn so you go with them. Take Phillips’ title character Calvin Redbone in the pressure cooker piece that is Redbone, the reader feels every injustice, every emotion and every bit of pain along the way – we feel the book. In novellas we have to be quickly emerged into the world and therefore the setting is equally important, take Finbow’s Down Among the Dead where during its short length we move between modern day London and twenty years before in Belfast, both locations and time periods are described vividly and yet not a word is wasted. Then of course there’s perfect plotting – perhaps the most important element of all, whether it’s the unfolding in front of your eyes unknown even to the lead character plot of Young’s Of Blondes and Bullets or the manipulative and seductively brilliant rise of Sandra Delites in Satan’s Sorority these novellas are plotted to the nth degree.
So here ends my brief love letter to the novella, with their cinematic length, rich characters, atmospheric writing and page turning plot there’s really nothing a fan of great fiction shouldn’t love. In this time pressured world, where everything and everyone is screaming for our attention why not spend a few hours each week in the company of a good short book – and I promise there’s no better place to start than at Fahrenheit 13. This Fahrenbruary, pick up a novella or two (fuck it, buy the lot) directly from the Fahrenheit Press website and fall in love with reading all over again.
You can keep up with what’s going on and tell others about your experiences this Fahrenbruary across social media by searching and using
Bio: Aidan Thorn writes dark fiction about families and conflict. His short stories have been widely published across various anthologies and web mags.