Saturday, January 18, 2020

"The Hand on the Wall"

Maureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow (with John Green and Lauren Myracle), and The Bane Chronicles (with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan).

Johnson's new book, The Hand on the Wall, is the third title in Truly Devious Series, which is set at Ellingham Academy, a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. In pursuit of the mystery behind Elligham's ghastly crimes: student and true-crime aficionado, Stevie Bell.

Johnson  applied the Page 69 Test to The Hand on the Wall and reported the following:
Page 69 is actually an important page in the book! It contains a fairly important clue. I can’t say what it is, obviously. It also leads directly into one of the major turns in the course of the story. One of the problems with writing a mystery is that I can’t tell you a lot about what happens or what you are supposed to look for. I can only gesture in the direction of page 69 and say look closely -- there may be something there.
Visit Maureen Johnson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Hand on the Wall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 16, 2020


Scott Reintgen is a former public school teacher from North Carolina. He survives mostly on cookie dough, which he is told is the most important food group. When he’s not writing, he uses his imagination to entertain his wife, Katie, and their sons. Reintgen is the author of the middle-grade novel Saving Fable, as well as the Nyxia Triad and Ashlords for young adults.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Ashlords and reported the following:
To my great delight, Ashlords does pass the page 69 test. This page brings us to the point in the story when Imelda finds out she's been invited to participate in the Races. She's at the front door, her mother's arm draped around her protectively, as officials from the Empire Racing Board offer an invitation that might change her life forever. Imelda is shocked. Her father's back in the kitchen, eavesdropping, not even realizing he's spilled coffee all over the table in his shock. People from Imelda's background don't get to ride in the Races. That's just how it is. A viral video, however, has launched her into the spotlight. The only question now: what will she do with her one shot? The rest of the story from that point on is about collision. The crash of cultures participating in the race. The clash of dreams, because winning this race would mean very different things for all the riders involved.

This scene also properly shows off one of the bigger themes in the story: transformation. The riders compete by racing on the backs of phoenix horses, a unique breed that lives and dies all in one day. Good alchemy is as important as good riding, because riders can mix powders into their phoenix's ashes at night to breathe life into a horse with different abilities for the next leg of the race. It's only right that I'd also focus on how the riders themselves are transformed through the competition. What are they learning? How are they growing stronger? What will they do when push comes to shove?

Finally, it's appropriate that this page highlights one of my favorite steps in the traditional hero's journey. It's called crossing the threshold. It's the point in the novel where the main character takes their first, tremulous step into the unknown. Harry's first steps into Diagon Alley. Rand al'Thor fleeing his home in Two Rivers with Moraine. I love those moments, because it's where we find out what the hero is truly made of. Imelda's journey from this point is not all smooth. She will be tested again and again and again. She will never be the same, and I think she leads readers on the journey of a lifetime, straight into the heart of the most intense competitions in the Empire.

I hope you're ready for the Races. Godspeed.
Follow Scott Reintgen on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Nyxia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 13, 2020

"Daughter of Chaos"

Sarah Rees Brennan is the author of The Demon’s Lexicon and Lynburn Legacy series; Tell the Wind and Fire and In Other Lands; and several collaborations with writers Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Kelly Link.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Daughter of Chaos, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Does everyone do that?” Harvey demanded. “Did you stay pure for Satan?”

A strange expression crossed Nick’s face. Harvey realized, with a burst of delight at this unexpected justice from the universe, that Nick Scratch was scandalized.

“Of course I did! What kind of boy do you take me for?”

Harvey couldn’t answer because he was laughing too hard. Even when Nick huffed and glared, he couldn’t stop.

“Yes, well, anyway—stop laughing, farm boy—that means I’m aware that you can’t have much experience,” said Nick. “What has it been? Like fifty people in your entire life?”

Nick glanced at Harvey inquiringly. Though it had seemed impossible to stop laughing a moment ago, Harvey wasn’t laugh­ing now.

“Was that too few people?” asked Nick. “Was that insulting? Obviously, I know mortals don’t have to save themselves for Satan.”

“I don’t want to talk about this!” Harvey said loudly.

“Actually, the Dark Lord doesn’t specify men must stay pure, but I figured it was only fair.”

“Satan shouldn’t tell women what to do,” Harvey snapped, then worried he might be disrespecting Nick’s culture.
This book is a tie-in with the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the tale of a girl who is half witch and half mortal, raised by her witch family, but part of mortal society... until her 16th birthday, when she has to join the witches, who live an alternate lifestyle and worship Satan. Something Sabrina's not sure she wants to be part of, yet she decides she must be a witch and can't be with her mortal boyfriend Harvey.

Daughter of Chaos is set after she makes that decision, and is told from several perspectives, including that of her mortal boyfriend, who has recently and traumatically found out about the world of witches. To add more trauma, a boy from Sabrina's coven is taking an interest in Sabrina, and wants to learn about mortal love. So Nicholas Scratch applies to Harvey for help, and as we can see above, both are horrified to learn how the other half lives...

To quote Caitlyn Siehl, 'when is a monster not a monster? Oh, when you love it.' Daughter of Chaos is told from two witches' and two mortals' perspectives, and has a lot of fish-out-of-water hijinx in which both sides are appalled and confused by their differences. But at the same time, both sides are trying. Like in this passage where Nick and Harvey, both in their own way, want justice for the women in their lives. It's a story about magic, mischief, and a chance at connection, and I hope the page reflects that!
Visit Sarah Rees Brennan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 12, 2020

"The Hollows"

Jess Montgomery is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and former Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of her novel The Widows, she was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus.

Montgomery applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Hollows, and reported the following:
From page 69:
A faint smile wavers on Mama’s lips as she pats Hildy’s hand. “Roger would want you to be happy. I don’t want you to mourn him forever. I want you to be happy, too.”

Oh God. Mama thinks she’s delaying a wedding date with Merle because of Roger.


She’d been so happy with Roger. His face—young, unmarred, handsome—rises before her. Something in his expression now seems to suggest that he’d never been meant long for the rough-and-tumble and furor and fury of this world.

As his face fades, the one replacing it is not stolid, older, steady Merle, but craggy, thin-faced, hard-etched Tom Whitcomb.

Hildy’s heart races, her palms sweating. She looks down, away from Mama, only to meet the eyes of the woman in her sketch and sees an approving glint in the eyes she’s imagined, the eyes she’s drawn, eyes that say, Yes, Tom.

“I can take care of the jailhouse and the children,” Mama is saying. “You get on over to the newspaper, then to the grocery.”

Hildy looks from the sketch back to Mama. Usually, Mama carries herself with resoluteness, but this morning, a thin gray strand of hair pulled loose from her dark bun makes her seem fragile. What would Mama think—if she knew about Tom? Suddenly her opinion matters to Hildy more than Merle’s or Mother’s. Or Lily’s.

Yet she must choose. She can’t remain with both Merle and Tom.

Roger would want you to be happy.
What strikes me at first from this passage from page 69 of The Hollows is that Lily Ross, the main protagonist of this novel and of the Kinship Mystery Series, is only mentioned once. In the novel, Lily is the sheriff of her county in 1926 Appalachian Ohio; her character is inspired by Ohio’s true first female sheriff in 1925.

It just so happens that this page is from the point of Hildy Cooper, Lily’s best childhood friend. Hildy was a secondary character in the series’ debut title, The Widows, offering sympathy and support for Lily. The Hollows has dual narrators, Lily and Hildy. (The first novel was narrated by Lily and another female character, Marvena.)

The second thought that strikes me from this passage is that though Lily is only mentioned once by name, she is woven throughout the page’s subtext. Mama is Lily’s mother; Roger was Lily’s older brother, killed in The Great War. He was also Hildy’s fiancé.

Hildy has remained not only friends with Lily, but embedded in her fiancé’s family, and how they see her matters to her, greatly and deeply.

The third thought is that on the surface, Hildy’s passage here reads as though she’s simply torn between two possible paramours—the socially acceptable Merle and the less socially acceptable Tom. But Hildy’s distress runs deeper than that. She is torn between continuing in the way she always has—acting as expected—and finally coming into her own identity, in touch with her own wishes and desires. Her quest is one of self-discovery and acceptance, even if it goes against the grain of kinship with friends and family as well as against the expectations of the society in Kinship, the county seat.

So, the tension between individual identity and community expectations, which is a theme of the novel and the series, plays out as well on this page.
Visit Jess Montgomery's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Widows.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 10, 2020

"Purgatory Bay"

Bryan Gruley is the Amazon Charts bestselling author of Bleak Harbor and the award-winning Starvation Lake trilogy of novels. He is also a lifelong journalist who is proud to have shared in the Pulitzer Prize awarded to the staff of the Wall Street Journal for their coverage of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Gruley applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Purgatory Bay, which is set in the same fictional Michigan town as Bleak Harbor, and reported the following:
Purgatory Bay is about a young woman named Jubilee Rathman who lives as a virtual recluse on a private bay near the town of Bleak Harbor, Michigan. She’s executing a diabolical plan to punish people she blames for ruining her life.

Page 69 recounts how and why Jubilee wound up in her bayside fortress with the help of her dead family’s attorney, E. Jonathan Phillips, or Phillie, as she calls him. The page is useful in several ways. We learn how a 29-year-old woman could afford such a property. We see how Phillie has become the one person outside her fortress playing a role in her life. The latter will become much more important later in the story.

The page reinforces Jubilee’s self-imposed isolation: “She had nothing against the townspeople of Bleak Harbor that she didn’t have against almost any other human being. She just didn’t belong with others anymore.” And the heartbreaking recollection of how she dispensed with her glorious soccer past underscores the depth of her disaffection and, chillingly, of her commitment to her terrible mission.
Learn more about the book and author at Bryan Gruley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

"Good Girls Lie"

In J. T. Ellison's new thriller, Good Girls Lie, Ash Carlisle leaves the U.K. after the death of her parents to attend the Goode School, a prep school for young women located in a small Virginia town that is a stepping stone to the Ivy League. Initially unprepared for the mean girls and the hazing, things get worse when students start dying...and suspicion falls on Ash.

Ellison applied the Page 69 Test to Good Girls Lie and reported the following:
I’ll admit, I’ve done several of these “tests” and always find them fascinating. The moment my finished books arrive, I flip immediately to Page 69 so I can see what’s happening in the story. Sometimes it’s something incredibly important and impactful. Sometimes it’s just a regular paragraph.

But for Good Girls Lie, it is a seminal moment, though the character, Ash Carlisle, an Oxford, England transplant to the elite all girls boarding school–THE GOODE SCHOOL–doesn’t realize it. Term has just started, and Ash is seriously questioning her choice to attend. Tired, jet lagged, and completely uncomfortable in her new surroundings, she falls into a fitful sleep, only to be awoken by singing. She had no idea that what she’s hearing is soon going to define her life in so many ways; will mark her, physically and emotionally, for the rest of her days.
I’m not ready to answer questions. The energy it is going to take to keep people at a distance is massive. And what if I can’t hack it? Not to mention the school aspect of all this? What if the classes are too hard?

I finally fall into a fretful sleep at midnight, restless and rumpled, and wake to the strange sense that something is amiss.

Singing. I can hear singing. Am I dreaming?

I sit up, rub my eyes. Stretch. No. Not dreaming.

But where is it coming from? Not my earbuds, though I’ve fallen asleep with them in. I pull them from my neck and toss them onto the night table. My laptop slips off the side of the bed, and I make a grab for it before it hits the floor.

Outside. The singing is coming from outside.

I go to the window. The night is black as pitch, deep as velvet. A glance at my watch shows it’s 1:30 a.m. The singing is growing louder, coming closer. The hair rises on the back of my neck. This isn’t a gentle, melodic song. This is coarse, meaningless; words shouted to a Sousa march beat.

Oh. This must be what the girls called a stomp.

Vanessa, when she could wedge a word in edgewise, explained the details over dinner. The secret societies are something like sororities at many Southern colleges, though you can’t pledge or ask to join one. The sisters have to come to you, a process known as being tapped.

I already knew the secret societies at Goode are a very big deal; I’d read about them when I was investigating the school but hadn’t paid much attention. I’m not much of a joiner, and seriously doubt I am the kind of person a secret society would want anyway. At dinner, Vanessa made them out to be almost mythical, as important to a Goode girl’s résumé as a 4.0 GPA and an admission letter to Harvard. “The societies carry over into college, you know. It’s the ultimate networking tool. Anyone can pledge a sorority. To be chosen, that’s the true test.”

The societies are secret for a reason.
--Excerpt ©J.T. Ellison, Good Girls Lie, MIRA Books, 2019
So an impactful page 69, this go around.
Visit J.T. Ellison's website and follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

My Book, The Movie: Good Girls Lie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 6, 2020

"Frozen Orbit"

Patrick Chiles has been fascinated by airplanes, rockets, and spaceflight ever since he was a little kid growing up in South Carolina. How he ended up as an English major in college is still a mystery, though he managed to overcome this self-inflicted handicap to pursue a career in aviation.

He is a graduate of The Citadel and a Marine Corps veteran, a licensed pilot, and an aviation safety manager. In addition to his novels Farside and Perigee, he has written for magazines such as Smithsonian’s Air & Space. He currently resides in Ohio as an expatriate Southerner with his wife and sons, two lethargic dachshunds, and a bovine cat.

Chiles applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, Frozen Orbit, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“It means be quiet. People are sleeping.” Had no one thought to put a simple volume knob on the intercom?

UNDERSTOOD, it said, matching his volume and logging a new subroutine to do the same in the future. DO YOU STILL WISH TO KNOW OUR DISTANCE FROM EARTH?

“Now that’s interesting,” Jack said. “I never answered your first question about frame of reference.”


“You guessed right. And whole numbers are fine.” He’d have to ponder over what process led it to a “reasonable guess” later. This could be an interesting side project if they ended up going the full distance to Pluto.


“Thanks. Back to sleep now.” A status light by the speaker blinked from green to amber.

Overnight they’d sped out to over three times the distance to the Moon. In just a few weeks they’d cross Mars’ orbit, though the planet itself would be a million kilometers distant during their passage. A few weeks after that, they’d have a first-person look at Jupiter while using its gravity to add more velocity. Even after all that, it would be another six months to Pluto. It had taken New Horizons nine years to make the same journey. Swift as they would be, the distance was still intimidating. Space was just too big.

“Save any for me?”

Traci’s voice startled him. Jack looked up to find her hopping off the ladder and into the galley. “What?”

She laughed. “Coffee. Java. Breakfast of champions.” She pointed to his mug, still sitting in the machine. “Is that for me, or do I hope for too much?”

“It’s mine,” he said, and removed it from the dispenser. “But you’re welcome to it. I haven’t contaminated it with sugar yet.” A quivering glob of black liquid spilled out in the low gravity, which he managed to sweep the cup underneath to catch before it had a chance to splatter in slow motion onto the deck.
It’s an early taste of the character interplay that develops through the rest of the story. Jack Templeton’s life aboard the Magellan is largely going to be defined by his relationships with two crewmates—Traci Keene, his shift partner, and “Daisy,” the artificial intelligence which helps run the ship. When he’s not busy deciphering forty-year-old transcripts from the derelict Russian spacecraft they’re heading out to meet at Pluto, he’s learning how to navigate through his feelings about both his human and digital partners. He’ll be in very close quarters with Traci for at least a year—and is trying to squelch his attraction to her for the sake of the mission—while Daisy appears to be on the brink of achieving sentience. He’s not sure how to handle either one of them.
Visit Patrick Chiles's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 4, 2020

"Three Things I Know Are True"

Betty Culley lives in central Maine, where the rivers run through the small towns. She tends a young crabapple orchard and waits all year for the spring blooms! She’s an RN who worked as an obstetrics nurse and as a pediatric home hospice nurse.

Culley applied the Page 69 Test to Three Things I Know Are True, her debut novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
I suppose if I had the
sheet music, I could.

My brother Jonah
always liked to listen
to the fiddlers
at the fair.

See, I learned something else
at the soup kitchen.
makes a bad situation
All the poems in this verse novel have titles and page 69 is the end of a section called Fiddle Music. Liv, 15, the main character and narrator, is working at a soup kitchen, (as a punishment for ‘playing with food’ at school!) and for the first time since her brother Jonah accidentally shot and severely injured himself, she does something ‘silly’—picks up a clean ladle, pretends it’s a fiddle, and sings the folk song ‘Old Joe Clark’. The reaction of the people at the soup kitchen is smiles and applause and she takes a little bow. Here on page 69, Liv is asking a boy who also works there and plays violin, if he could play his fiddle at her brother Jonah’s upcoming eighteenth birthday party. This section is representative of how even in a situation that is inherently tragic, Liv manages to find lightness and solace and connect with those around her.
Visit Betty Culley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 2, 2020

"Lost Hills"

Lee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar Award and two-time Shamus Award nominee and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including the Ian Ludlow thrillers Killer Thriller and True Fiction, King City, The Walk, fifteen Monk mysteries, and the internationally bestselling Fox & O’Hare books (The Heist, The Chase, The Job, The Scam, and The Pursuit) cowritten with Janet Evanovich. He has also written and/or produced many TV shows, including Diagnosis Murder, SeaQuest, and Monk, and is the co-creator of the Hallmark movie series Mystery 101. As an international television consultant, he has advised networks and studios in Canada, France, Germany, Spain, China, Sweden, and the Netherlands on the creation, writing, and production of episodic television series.

Goldberg applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Lost Hills, and reported the following:
Is page 69 representative of the rest of the book?

Yes, actually, it is. My heroine, Eve Ronin, the youngest female homicide detective on the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, makes a four-hour drive in the wee hours of the morning to talk to someone related to the homicide case, someone that she could have simply called on the phone. She basically gives up a night of sleep, in middle of an intense investigation, to make that long drive. It shows how hard she's pushing herself, perhaps to unnecessary extremes, to get to the truth. It also reveals her need to make a human connection, face-to-face, with the people involved...even it if means literally going the extra mile.
Visit Lee Goldberg's website.

My Book, The Movie: Lost Hills.

Writers Read: Lee Goldberg.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 30, 2019

“And Dangerous to Know”

Darcie Wilde is the award-winning author of the Rosalind Thorne Mysteries, a Regency-set historical mystery series inspired by the novels of Jane Austen.

Wilde applied the Page 69 Test to the new book in the series, And Dangerous to Know, and reported the following:
Page 69 of And Dangerous to Know, is transitional. Two of our main female protagonists — Rosalind Thorne the story’s lead, and Alice Littlefield, her best friend — are quite literally moving from one place to another, in this case via a borrowed carriage.

It’s also a transitional one for the story, because it’s Rosalind’s last chance to back out of what might become a very bad situation. She’s been asked to find some very sensitive letters by the highly place, and highly influential, Lady Melbourne. Those letters involve one of the biggest scandals, and the biggest celebrity, of Regency England, the poet, George Gordon, Lord Byron. Byron has recently had to leave the country. These letters show that Lady Melbourne knew the real reason behind his departure, and that her part would exacerbate the scandal, if it became public. If she takes the job, she risks becoming part of the scandal, if she turns the job down, she risks allowing a murderer to escape justice.

It’s also a chance for a little private conversation between friends about Rosalind’s private life, or lack thereof. Rosalind is trying to make up her mind about her future in more ways than one. During this time period, the limits on what women could do and still remain within the bounds of propriety and gentility were strict. Rosalind has been slowly stepping outside those bounds, possibly to the point of no return. But her gentility is a part of her identity. If she sheds it, who is she? What is she? And where does she fit in the world she has to live in?

So the discussion is about a choice between loves, but it is really a choice between worlds. On this page, Rosalind is, literally and figuratively, choosing where she wants to go.
Visit Darcie Wilde's website.

My Book, The Movie: And Dangerous to Know.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 28, 2019

"A Trace of Deceit"

Karen Odden is the author of bestselling novels A Lady in the Smoke and A Dangerous Duet.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Trace of Deceit, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Or someone could have switched them afterward, inside the Sibleys’ room,” [Matthew said].

“That’s possible,” I allowed. “Though the forgery would have to be very good for the exchange not to be detected. But why would someone bring in a painting only to remove it again? Wouldn’t that raise the guard’s suspicion?”

“I don’t think so. Someone could have changed his mind,” he replied. “Mr. Pagett told me he often spent hours in the Sibley room, sorting the paintings, placing them side-by-side as he determined what to hang on his walls and where.”

I could imagine that.

“And while an inventory is maintained for each room,” he continued, “the description would probably be brief—something less specific than the one in the auction catalog. So if the inventory listed merely ‘French portrait of a woman,’ one painting might plausibly be mistaken for another. Of course, all those written records were lost in the fire.” He spread his hands. “I know Felix is certain it’s the original, but if Mrs. Jesper’s painting were a forgery, how could you tell?”

I smoothed my napkin again and laced my fingers on top of it. “The difference can be something as minute as a variation in the shape of the signature or the placement of it. Merely a quarter of an inch to the right or left can give it away. But Edwin would say the signature is easy to mimic. It’s more difficult to reproduce the precise way a painter wraps the canvas around the bars, and the length or weight or roundness of the brushstrokes, or the tone of the painting.”

He looked dubious. “That sounds rather intangible.”

“I suppose, but even a layman can usually detect the difference when the two are side by side.”
On page 69 of A Trace of Deceit, Annabel Rowe and Inspector Matthew Hallam sit together at a teashop, tentatively beginning to collaborate and to propose some possible explanations for why Annabel’s brother Edwin was killed and how a priceless French painting that was ostensibly burned in the Pantechnicon fire years before has reappeared and then been stolen. Their tea-table is cluttered with tea and coffee pots, cups and saucers, and plates of scones and sandwiches, some hanging over the edge—much as the mysteries of Edwin’s death and the painting at this point seem cluttered with details that don’t form a coherent whole. In this moment, Matthew sketches a potential logic, and Annabel responds; she suggests another possibility, and he counters. The tea things move around the table and the dialogue flows back and forth. And then Annabel explains that if the stolen painting is a forgery, it is possible to tell by particular details, thus proving to Matthew (and the reader) that she is valuable to his investigation. She is, at heart, searching for truth, as is he. They are, literally and metaphorically, at the same table, although she drinks tea and he prefers coffee. So, yes, in many ways this page is representative of how Annabel and Matthew have their differences but will work together well in subsequent scenes.
Visit Karen Odden's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Karen Odden and Rosy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 26, 2019

"Nietzsche and the Burbs"

Lars Iyer is a Reader in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, where he was formerly a longtime lecturer in philosophy. He is the author of the novels in the Spurious Trilogy, and more recently the widely acclaimed Wittgenstein Jr.

Iyer applied the Page 69 Test to his newest novel, Nietzsche and the Burbs, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Questions for Miss Lilly: How long will the polders hold back the ocean, miss? What about the dikes? How long do you give human civilization in general, miss? Do you think the end will come gradually, or all at once, miss? How many people do you think will survive the catastrophe, miss? Do you think there will be cannibalism, miss? It’s going to be bad—very bad, isn’t it, miss?

We don’t inherit the Earth from our parents, but borrow it from our children, that’s what they say, isn’t it, miss? Do you ever feel it’s your fault, miss—climate change? You and your generation? Do you ever want to repent, miss—cover your head with ashes?

We have to downshift, don’t we, miss? We have to transition out of our lifestyles. No more four-by-fours ... no travelling by car ... no flying overseas ... We’ll have to do without pilot lights, won’t we miss? And we can’t let the water run when we brush our teeth. And we should piss while we shower—isn’t that the idea? And we’ll have to recycle even harder, won’t we miss? Go ever more local...

Really, we have to cull the population, miss—it’s quite clear. There should be a tax on babies, miss. On people who live alone. We should agree to sterilization, shouldn’t we, miss? In fact, we should just do away with ourselves. That might solve it, miss.
My characters, older teens in the last year of school, are convinced that the world as it stands cannot be redeemed. They’re drawn to apocalypticism – to the hope for the destruction of the present world. At the stage of the novel represented by the text on page 69, they welcome approaching climatic and financial catastrophe, and the resultant dissolution of current social and political norms. As such, their geography teacher Miss Lilly’s calls for geoengineering, recycling and ecological awareness fall on deaf ears. Let it all come down is their watchword. Let chaos break forth, let the floodwaters rise and the apocalyptic beasts be released…

My characters will end up nurturing other kinds of hope, notably in the music they perform together in their band, Nietzsche and the Burbs. They go on to affirm a love of fate – of the senselessness of chaos – that, they hope, will transform the suburbs and perhaps the world, too. But it is really in their friendship that they show their greatest hope. Who would they be without each other, and without their enigmatic lead singer, Nietzsche?
Visit Lars Iyer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue