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  • Writer's pictureJill Barry

Pocket Novels

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

A specialist market for those who love a shorter novel.

Here, I’m singing the praises of the Pocket Novel. These little treasures are fortnightly publications by D C Thomson. Strong family values and traditions matter hugely to The People’s Friend and My Weekly but that doesn’t mean the fiction is at all dull or lacking impact. A good story is always vital but a strong emotional situation plus realistic characters are almost more important than the plotline. Romance features strongly.

I’m proud to be one of D C Thomson's pocket novel authors. Here’s my opening line of Mallorcan Magic previously published by The People's Friend:

On June 22, 1966, in the kitchen of Steven’s pint-sized flat, Eira Campbell flung her diamond ring at her fiancé’s feet.

Hopefully my readers got the message that it was time for the heroine to move on. With a shorter novel, an action-packed beginning is extra-important.

Another People's Friend novel, The Other Side Of The World, features a young British woman who takes a job in a resort hotel owned by an enigmatic Australian who's passionate about his Misty Mountain domain. I’ve tried to give a flavour not only of the landscape, but also the friendly, laid-back nature of the people.

This novella is particularly poignant for me because I began writing it while house-sitting for my son and daughter-in-law while they were honeymooning on Australia’s Gold Coast. I’d flown to Melbourne to arrive a week before my son's wedding at Dunkeld (Victoria) in November 2016. To my delight, several other family members travelled from the UK too, despite the long flights involved. We all enjoyed several days of sightseeing, meals out, plus a splendid party at Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor where I was able to meet my son’s future family for, in most cases, the first time.

But it was the wonderful wedding venue where we stayed three nights, which inspired another pocket novel. From the moment we drove on to the Royal Mail Hotel estate, I knew we could look forward to a fabulous few days in the country whilst staying in an upmarket cottage, complete with wood-burning stove and a view of the local kangaroo population bounding around!

My Weekly novels require more nail-biting moments - more peaks and troughs as the story develops. Their editor is looking for exciting, thrilling reads that sweep the reader away for adventures, intrigues and romance. No one ever said writing for either imprint was easy. Some authors find their pocket novel niche with one or other of the D C Thomson imprints and others switch between both.

The first novel I had accepted by My Weekly was my third submission, so you can guess how thrilled I was to receive a Yes. Here's the opening scene from Melting Evie’s Heart:

I’m not too sure I should run away like this.

Evie Meredith sighed as she turned off the main road. She was coming to the Cotswolds to escape her London life although it was still only early December. Usually she never got home for Christmas until the twenty-fourth, her birthday. Things were different this year.

Evie did indeed experience many changes in her life once she returned to her parents' quiet, or maybe not so quiet, Cotswold village.

I’m happy to say my published pocket novels for The People’s Friend and My Weekly currently number sixteen. Recently I completed the second instalment of a Christmas two-parter for 'The Friend' in which I take the reader back in time to 1965.

Have you ever thought about writing for D C Thomson? If so, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be happy to answer your questions. I’m following a long line of authors who have an awesome CV – no pressure then!

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