Hello world and internet! I’m SA Stovall and I’m blog-touring my latest novella, The Dusk Parlor, a contemporary romance set in Japan as part of Dreamspinner Press’ ‘World of Love’ novella series. Feel free to follow along as I post articles, sneak peeks, and share a little bit of my love for Japan (April 27th to May 9th)! I hope you all enjoy!
Writing a Novella
Fun fact, true fact: The Dusk Parlor is my first novella.
Hopefully I haven’t deterred anyone with my honesty, but I prefer to up front with my writing. I mention this because I wanted to tell everyone about what a wonderful experience it was. I’ve written novels, choose your own adventures, and several short stories, but this novella stood out as an enjoyable experience.
Why, you might ask? I feel it blends just the right amount of story with casual enjoyment. In a novel, there are several subplots, characters, and arcs that characters go through. Depending on how fast you read, it may take you a day to several weeks to finish a solid book.
And don’t even get me started on short stories. They’re like bite sized snacks—they always leave you wanting more. Although I’ve written several, I think they’re my least favorite to read because I always want the stories to continue.
This is where we enter the novella. When I sat down to write The Dusk Parlor I decided I wanted to have a sexy adventure story that hit just the right amount of entertaining while still be reasonable in length.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good book, but the ease of reading and writing a novella has changed me. The story is shorter, so easier to plan, and the cast is typically smaller than a novel, so easy to keep track of, and since you’re aiming for a short piece, only the best of the best material gets in. What’s not to like about a novella?
The Dusk Parlor, in particular, was fun to write because I love stories about the yakuza (a Japanese mobster-like gang). The story starts with Hugh Harris moving to Japan. He gets at a job at the Dusk Parlor, and while flirting with a few of his co-workers, finds out the owner has some ties with—you guessed it—the yakuza.
I do love me some adventure, but the main reason Hugh decides to tango with the yakuza is because he comes to care for the owner of the club, Kaito Hanamura, and the bartender, Ren Yoshida. Both are men with old ties to the mobster syndicate, and they devise a plan to leave the group once and for all. But they’ll need Hugh’s help to do it.
Why write about the yakuza? Well, I don’t normally see many stories about Japanese gangsters, which is a shame considering how interesting they are. Many of them mark themselves with irezumi (a style of Japanese tattooing that covers a majority of the skin). Many yakuza members get tattoos over the years, piece by piece, until they’re covered from head to toe.
As a matter of fact, yakuza gang involvement is so bad in some cities that it’s against the law to display tattoos in public areas (such as beaches and restaurants) for fear of gang association. In The Dusk Parlor, Hugh is told my several people that anyone with a tattoo is a gang member. When he sees Ren’s tattoos he gets suspicious, but it isn’t until he sees Kaito’s that he knows the two are seriously involved with the criminal underworld.
Another interesting fact about Japan is that guns are rare, even in the police force. They have laws that prevent people from owning any type of gun (even handguns) but the yakuza manage to get their hands on some regardless. This makes them rather intimidating, considering not even the police are fully equipped to deal with their brute force.
Luckily, yakuza activity has drastically gone down in the last few decades, which is always nice, but it makes for a good exciting romance plot, that’s for sure!
Hugh is actually an ex-soldier from the US and his expertise with weapons and planning are why Kaito and Ren rely on him in the first place. Hugh, being half-American, half-Japanese, is a large guy that’s combat trained. Even when a yakuza member pulls a gun on him, Hugh is ready for anything.
Overall, writing a novella was a wonderful experience. A fast action-paced romance set to Japanese mobsters, high-class bars, and tattooed men sounds like mine kind of read any day of the week. I may even write a few more novellas in between novels, just to get that rush of writing a fun adventure escapade out of my system.
Hopefully you all enjoy The Dusk Parlor, because I know I enjoyed writing it!
Former soldier Hugh Harris is a “hāfu”—half-Japanese, half-American—and, after his father’s death, he returns to Kobe, Japan, in order to connect with his mother and her family. Confused and feeling out of place, Hugh finds work as a waiter at an upscale nightclub. The other employees, an odd and eclectic bunch, quickly make him feel at home, especially the bartender, Ren, and the club host, Kaito.
But the tranquility doesn’t last forever. As Hugh gets deeper into his relationships with both men, he finds they may have dubious connections with the yakuza in town… and when the local street leaders send their enforcers to the Dusk Parlor, Hugh, Ren, and Kaito may be in for a storm of trouble.
About the Author
S.A. Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family having a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate.
As a child, Stovall’s favorite novel was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was the moment Stovall realized that story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world, and she hopes you enjoy.
You can contact her at the following locations.