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Short stories, caving, and writing in English

I have the second draft of an 75 000 word English novel manuscript ready. I’m not at all sure what to do with it, so I wrote a short story as a companion piece, and put it up on my blog.

For those who just want to read a caving-themed short story, November can be found here.

For others, a bit of background:

I have been into caving since 2007. The problem with being a caver in Finland is that there are no caves in the country. We have something like two tiny limestone holes (the longest of those has about 100 metres of total passage if you’re being incredibly generous), but most of the stuff the natives call caves are just piles of granite boulders. They don’t really appeal to me at all.

I’ve done most of my real caving in the UK. Since 2009 I’ve spent a caving-themed vacation there every year, usually either in  South Wales or the Yorkshire Dales. When I talk about caving, I tend to do it in English. Most of the cavers I know are British. So when a fellow Finnish caver lamented that the caving novel she’d bought off the Internet was really awful, I decided that I’d write one that was better. As I started working on it, the first sentence formed in English, and that sort of set the stage for the entire manuscript. It wasn’t as much a choice as inevitability. I was writing about what I knew, so of course the cave was in Wales, the characters British (although the narrator was born in Eastern Europe so she occasionally considers herself a foreigner), the spoken language English.

It took me a year and a half, on and off, but I ended up finishing the story, around the same time as I got my first Finnish novel accepted into the publishing pipeline of a local publisher. I mentioned that I also had finished an English novel manuscript about caving, and they were all “good for you, but we’re not interested.”

Now I’ve got 75 000 words of a suspense novel gathering dust in my digital drawer. I’m trying to decide whether I should try to get into a traditional publishing pipeline in the UK (which does sound challenging, considering that English is not my first language), or if I should just self-publish the whole thing as an ebook. (If the latter happens, the ebook will be available with no DRM or ties to any single digital walled garden.) I wrote the short story as a sort of sample, to gauge if there’s any point in trying to sell a novel based on similar themes.

(November features some characters from the caving novel. Nasha is the first-person narrator and protagonist of the actual novel, Tomos and Adam are minor characters. Like November, the novel is set in a South Wales cave; unlike November, the cave in the novel is fictious.)

Anyway, here’s November. Thoughts and comments are welcome.

Published inenglish