Wednesday, July 17, 2019

"Blue Hours"

Daphne Kalotay is the author of Calamity and Other Stories, which was short listed for the 2005 Story Prize. Her debut novel, Russian Winter, won the 2011 Writers’ League of Texas Fiction Prize, made the long list for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, was nominated for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and has been published in twenty-three foreign editions. Her second novel, Sight Reading, was a Boston Globe bestseller, a finalist for the 2014 Paterson Fiction Prize, and winner of the 2014 New England Society Book Award in Fiction. She has received fellowships from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the Bogliasco Foundation, MacDowell, and Yaddo. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Kalotay applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Blue Hours, and reported the following:
From page 69:
In the car the next day, heading back to the city, I stole a look at the sparkly diamond hanging at Kyra’s neck. I had only ever worn it that one time. “Is Roy the one who gave you that necklace?”

Kyra nodded, and I waited for her to offer up something more. “C’mon,” I said, “what’s the deal with you two?”

She said, “I guess I’m supposed to marry him.”

I looked at her face to see if she was serious. “Do you want to marry him?”

An odd little sigh. “You saw what he’s like. How can he keep living this way? He’s so removed from the rest of the world. I mean, even his job. ‘Personal investing.’ He manages his friends’ brokerage accounts!” I expected her to laugh, but she looked like she might cry. “I had a mad crush on him growing up. Then the summer after my freshman year of college, we finally got together. That lasted about a year. But he was already done with college, and then—” She gave a little rustle of her shoulders, as if shaking something off. “I don’t know.”

“Well, I mean, do you love him?”
Some background: The narrator, Mim, has just graduated from college and moved to NYC, where she is roommates with Kyra, a rich girl from Newport, Rhode Island. In this micro-scene, they are returning from a weekend at Kyra’s mother’s house, where Mim thought she was getting to know Kyra better—only to be surprised by the materialization of a young man named Roy, whom Kyra had never mentioned.

This snippet presents a small-scale version of the themes that return in a global way in the book’s second half. For one thing, the book is a love story. It’s also about the peculiar American “privilege” of ignoring the traumas of the greater world. We see those themes introduced here in Kyra’s dismay over Roy’s aloofness due to his rich-boy comfort, her sense of fatalism when asked about their relationship (which is in a way our American version of an arranged marriage), and the mystery of why their romance ended. In a way, Mim and Roy will become rivals. And though the characters don’t know it yet, Kyra will devote herself to a life of humanitarian aid work. When, twenty years later, Kyra goes missing abroad, Mim and Roy—who haven’t spoken to each other in two decades—will join forces to try to find her.
Learn more about the book and author at Daphne Kalotay's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sight Reading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"The Most Fun We Ever Had"

Claire Lombardo earned her MFA in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois. A former social worker, she now teaches fiction writing and is at work on a second novel.

Lombardo applied the Page 69 Test to The Most Fun We Ever Had, her debut novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Both kids were sleeping through the night and Matt had just made partner and Violet had shed her final pounds of baby weight and everything had been going exceptionally, and if they got a babysitter and went out to dinner it should’ve been to bask rather than to save their marriage. Except now there was Jonah, and there wasn’t a restaurant in the Chicagoland area fancy enough to assuage the effects of his arrival.
On page 69 of my novel , neurotic Sorenson sister Violet frets before a date with her husband, both because she’s grown apart from him and because she doesn’t want to talk about the thing she knows they’ll have to talk about—namely, the arrival into their lives of an orphaned teenage boy who has just moved in with her sister, Wendy.

This page is representative of the rest of the book, I’d say, because the present arc of the novel—the year in which the aforementioned teenager returns—is all about chronicling unrest in the lives of the characters. Nobody in the Sorenson family is quite where he or she wants to be at the beginning of the novel, and Violet—though she’s type-A and concerned with appearances and keeps her struggles under wraps, for the most part—is perhaps more unmoored than most. This novel is very much concerned with the ways that we process life as it comes at us—life at its most quotidian and its most dramatic.

Jonah is very much a catalyst for change within this family, and his behavior—good, bad, or otherwise—played a major role in helping me propel the plot forward. He also serves as an outside observer, the only POV character who isn’t an immediate member of the Sorenson clan, so he both gives the reader a breather from being pressed so closely against the Sorenson sisters and provides some objectivity in his perception of this particular family.
Visit Claire Lombardo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Shadow & Flame"

Mindee Arnett is the acclaimed author of Onyx & Ivory and its sequel, Shadow & Flame, as well as Avalon and its sequel, Polaris. She lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, and assorted animals.

Arnett applied the Page 69 Test to Shadow & Flame and reported the following:
Page 69 of the Shadow & Flame is definitely representative of the entire book. It’s the second page of chapter 4 and it involves an identify reveal / confirmation for a major character whose fate was in question up until this point. I don’t want to get any more specific because of spoilers.

Actually, the fact that there’s a huge spoiler on this page proves it’s definitely indicative of the rest of the book. I haven’t been able to talk about the book much because it’s a sequel to Onyx & Ivory and literally every part of it is some kind of spoiler. Of course, it’s not just because it’s a sequel but more because the book is super intense and action packed. In many ways, this is a war novel, and the stakes are high for every character. There are numerous heartbreaks and failures intermixed with hard won triumphs. Readers who enjoyed Onyx & Ivory need to hold on and brace themselves for Shadow & Flame. It’s going to be rough ride, but ultimately a satisfying one, I hope.
Visit Mindee Arnett's website.

The Page 69 Test: Onyx & Ivory.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 12, 2019

"Everything About You"

Heather Child's experience in digital marketing has brought her into close contact with the automation and personalization technologies that herald the "big data" age.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Everything About You, her debut novel, and reported the following:
We are not far from a world in which people are constantly tracked, with facial recognition and the ‘internet of things’ meaning it will be increasingly difficult to ‘go dark’. However Freya’s foster sister Ruby vanishes into the night and leaves the younger girl heartbroken, just as we come up to page 69, on which Freya is experiencing the aftermath of the loss.
Others were openly cruel, taunting her in the hangouts with rumours that Ruby had been a prostitute and her pimp had finally killed her. All that hanging round Peckham now became evidence that she was a streetwalker, loitering in greenzones late at night to solicit business. This was when Freya shut down. Comments were left to build up online, and at school she would wear headphones and stand outside in the cold, away from everyone.
On page 69 we see the real-life Ruby, the seventeen year-old who took risks, who was achingly close to Freya, leaving the younger girl without a role model when she disappeared. It is a page of grit, of her mother viewing grim news stories.
Freya knew she had given Ruby up for dead. Perhaps it was the only thing to do. There were too many stories of missing schoolgirls, one man after the next arrested with a string of murders to his name. They were in the press where they had not been before.
It is perhaps one of the most ominous pages in the book. What is missing is the ‘new’ Ruby, recreated as an artificial intelligence. Years later, her colourful personality is scraped from the internet, and she reappears as Freya’s virtual assistant.

This Ruby is as wild and fabulous as before, and programmed to give Freya everything she wants. The trouble is that Freya will do anything for her foster sister, and follow wherever she leads, even down those same dark paths from long ago.
Visit Heather Child's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 11, 2019

"Betrayal in Time"

Julie McElwain is a national award-winning journalist. Born and raised in North Dakota, she graduated from North Dakota State University, and moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for a fashion trade newspaper. Currently, she is an editor for CBS Soaps In Depth, covering the No. 1 daytime drama, The Young & The Restless.

Her first novel, A Murder In Time, was one of the top 10 picks by the National Librarian Association for its April 2016 book list. The novel was also a finalist for the 2016 Goodreads’ readers choice awards in the Sci-fi category, and made Bustle’s list of 9 Most Addictive Mystery series for 2017.

The series continues Kendra Donovan’s adventures in Regency England with A Twist in Time, Caught in Time, and Betrayal in Time.

When McElwain is not on her laptop, she enjoys traveling, exploring different cultures, spending time with family and meeting friends for Happy Hour. She lives in Long Beach, California.

McElwain applied the Page 69 Test to Betrayal in Time and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Thanks.” Kendra paused, lifting her face up to the black sky spinning with white crystals. For a moment, she stood there, absorbing the cold air scented with fireplace smoke. Alec stopped beside her, his gloved hand capturing hers.

“What are you thinking?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I suppose I’m thinking about how nothing changes, not really. People will always kill each other. For the damnedest reasons.” She sighed, and tugged Alec’s hand. “C’mon, my lord. Let’s go in before we turn into popsicles.”

“What the devil is a popsicle?”

Kendra laughed, and pulled him down the path. Harding was eyeing them from the door he held open. Hurrying up the steps, they joined Rebecca and the Duke, who were divesting themselves of their outerwear. Servants were bustling around the mansion, opening up rooms, taking linen covers off the furniture, dusting and sweeping. The scent of lemon, linseed oil, and beeswax drifted on the air. Even though kindling and coal had been brought in, and fires started in many of the hearths, it was still cold enough for Kendra to lament the lack of central heating in this era as she handed her cloak, gloves and bonnet over to one of the waiting footmen. Kendra kept her reticule, which contained the muff pistol, and her notes.

“Lady Atwood is with Mrs. Danbury in the morning room, sir,” Harding informed the Duke in his characteristically grave manner. “Shall I let her ladyship know that you have arrived?”

“Thank you, but I shall go to her myself. Send someone to Lady Rebecca’s residence to find out if her parents have arrived. Has my study been made ready?”

“Yes, sir. A fire has been lit, as well as several wall sconces.”

“Very good. We have dined, but if my decanters in the study haven’t been replenished yet, send up a maid with a bottle of brandy, and a pot of tea. And we shall need the slate board returned to the room. I trust it is around here somewhere? You did not dispose of it entirely?”

The butler slid a look in Kendra’s direction, but his expression remained impassive. “I shall supervise its return. Tonight, your Grace?”

“Tonight,” Aldridge confirmed, and glanced at his nephew. “Alec, if you will escort the ladies upstairs, I shall join you shortly.”
In Betrayal in Time, 21st century FBI profiler Kendra Donovan, who has been trying to adapt to her new life in the early 19th century, returns to London to assist Bow Street Runner, Sam Kelly, in a bizarre murder. The body of Sir Giles Holbrooke was found naked in an abandoned church, garroted, with his tongue cut out. The puzzle deepens when strange cross-like symbols appear on Sir Giles’ flesh during autopsy. When Kendra learns that Sir Giles was not an ordinary citizen, but a spymaster, she must figure out if his killer is connected to the treacherous intelligence world or something closer to home. While I don’t think page 69 illustrates the gritty, twisty path that Kendra is forced to navigate in this novel, it does give a small taste of what it’s like being a time traveler, the differences in language and lifestyle. It also shows Kendra as the ultimate outsider, no matter how hard she tries to fit in. When the Duke asks for his butler, Harding, to find the slate board they used in the last murder investigation, we get the sense that the servant looks at Kendra as an oddity, with a whiff of disapproval (although never overtly expressed in the Duke’s presence) that the American is once again involving their master in something as low-brow as murder.
Visit Julie McElwain's website.

The Page 69 Test: Caught in Time.

My Book, The Movie: Betrayal in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

"Paper Son"

S. J. Rozan has won multiple awards for her fiction, including the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Nero, and Macavity, the Japanese Maltese Falcon, and the Private Eye Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award. Rozan was born and raised in the Bronx and now lives in lower Manhattan.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Paper Son, her latest Lydia Chin/Bill Smith mystery, and reported the following:
Such an interesting thing, this Page 69 Challenge. For one thing, the book's page numbers are different from the manuscript's, so when I accepted the Challenge I wasn't even sure where the story was up to by page 69. For another, what are the chances any particular page represents the whole book?

But lo, to my surprise, page 69 of Paper Son does. It's part of a conversation Lydia Chin and Bill Smith have with a young paralegal in the town of Clarksdale, Mississippi. The book's set in the Mississippi Delta, and in this conversation, Lydia is introduced to some of the intricacies of race relations in Mississippi. The conversation includes the phrase, "colored folk of a different color."

Which is the point. Everything in Mississippi is, ultimately, about race; but it's about more than black and white. Growing up in the North, I never knew that. The Delta has been home, for more than a hundred years, to a community of Chinese -- first immigrants, and now, for some generations, Mississippi natives. Plus Eastern European Jews; Italians; Lebanese; and those Native Americans who stayed after most were driven from their land. To WASP Mississippi, all these people were "colored." The complexities created by pushing this logic to its extreme -- and extreme is something Mississippi is particularly good at -- are absurd, though not funny. And that fact is pretty much what Paper Son is about.
Visit S.J. Rozan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

"Secret Soldiers"

Keely Hutton is a novelist, educational journalist, and former teacher. She is the recipient of the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop scholarship at Chautauqua. She has worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar to tell his story in her first novel, Soldier Boy.

Hutton applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Secret Soldiers, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Chapter 8

Bagger led the boys back to their dugout, where the three men they’d left sleeping now sat around their makeshift table, drinking tea, smoking, and playing cards.

“’Bout time you got back, Bagger,” said a large man. He had long auburn sideburns, a scattering of teeth, and no neck said. His voice grated through his throat like a spade against gravel. “Where’s Max?”

“He’s running messages,” Bagger replied.

“Command better not wear him out. We need him well rested for later.”

“Don’t you worry about Max. He’ll be ready.”

“He better be.” The large man motioned to the empty chair beside him. “We’re getting ready to play Pontoon. You in?”

“No chance, Mole. You chaps took all my earnings last time we played. I’ve got nothin’ to wager.”
Page 69 of Secret Soldiers kicks off Chapter 8 and Thomas and the boys’ introduction to the clay kickers, a specialized crew of soldiers, whom the boys will be shadowing on a secret mission in the tunnels beneath no man’s land. On page 69, the crew leader, Bagger, takes the boys into the crew’s dugout, where they will sleep and eat between shifts hauling spoil out of the tunnels. In the dugout, they meet the crew’s kicker, Mole, a “rough-around-the-edges” tunneller who dug sewers beneath Manchester before he and Bagger were recruited by the British Army to dig secret tunnels under the Western Front. Page 69 captures the camaraderie between Bagger and Mole, a bond of trust which Thomas and the boys will have to form in order to survive their mission and the war. The dialogue between Bagger and Mole on page 69 also sets the stage for readers and the boys to meet Max. The mystery of the valuable, yet unseen crew member is solved a couple chapters later when Thomas and the boys finally meet Max and discover the many roles he plays for the British Army and the crew both in and under the Allied trenches.
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Soldier Boy.

My Book, The Movie: Soldier Boy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 8, 2019

"The Missing Years"

Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. In 1994 she began a Physics degree at University College, Oxford, where she obtained a first; she subsequently obtained a doctorate in Theoretical Physics, also from Oxford University. A keen sportwoman, she represented Oxford every one of her seven years there in either Swimming or Waterpolo, and usually both. Elliott works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. The rest of her time is spent writing, or thinking about writing, and juggling family life and sport.

Elliott applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, The Missing Years, and reported the following:
When I first flicked to page 69 of The Missing Years to re-read it for this article, I was struck by how precisely this particular page captures the key issues facing Ailsa, the main protagonist. Ailsa is giving her half-sister, Carrie, a lift back from the station. It’s clear that the physical landscape she finds herself in—the Scottish Highlands—is unfamiliar and not yet comfortable to her:
There’s no moonlight to be found thus far this evening; Carrie would have needed a torch to navigate this had I not picked her up. The city dweller within me balks at the idea.
The reader might also deduce that the landscape of the relationship between Ailsa and her half-sister is equally unfamiliar:
There’s a caustic tone to Carrie’s words that surprises me. I throw her a quick glance, but I can’t deduce her expression in the darkness of the car interior.
Ailsa is attempting to have her father, who has been missing for a quarter of a century, declared dead; she tells Carrie about her meeting with a lawyer. We see Ailsa’s understatement and reserve as she describes the meeting as “a bit strange”, prompting Carrie to ask:
“How so?”

I shrug. “You know. Talking about my father. I don’t usually do that.” Talking about my father, without really talking about my father. We covered his date of birth, town of birth, occupation, last known abode; the barren facts that in no way construct a person.
Carrie goes on to ask:
“Do you have to, I don’t know, come up with a theory? For what happened to him, I mean?”

“I ...” In front of me hang a hundred, a thousand, a million and more different possibilities. I almost can’t see the road for the myriad of my father’s lives playing out before me, like overlapping cinema screens, all that could have been, might have been, perhaps was, perhaps even is. All of the things I have imagined and all I haven’t yet thought of. If I had to pick one, I might damn all the others. What if I picked the wrong one?
So, all on this one page, we have the looming presence of the isolated landscape Ailsa finds herself in, her uncertain relationship with her half-sister, and the impact of the absence of her father. Of the three, the physical landscape is under-represented on page 69, as this is a novel that is firmly steeped in its setting, and the Manse—the house that Ailsa has inherited, that lives and breathes and exerts its own influence on those around it—isn’t mentioned at all. Scottish mythology is twisted and dark and eerily romantic; it is utterly in keeping with the craggy peaks that stand in judgement over those that live and love beneath them. Like all the tales that have come before it, The Missing Years, with the strange Manse at the heart of a long-unsolved mystery, couldn’t possibly be set anywhere else. If you give it a read, you’ll see what I mean...
Visit Lexie Elliott's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 7, 2019

"Under the Cold Bright Lights"

Garry Disher is one of Australia’s best-known novelists. He’s published over 50 books in a range of genres, including crime, children’s books, and Australian history. He lives on the Mornington Peninsula, southeast of Melbourne.

Disher applied the Page 69 Test to his novel Under the Cold Bright Lights and reported the following:
Page 69 of Under the Cold Bright Lights happens to reflect perfectly the book as a whole. On page 69, police searching a house discover vials of a hospital drug known as "sux" (succinylcholine), which can kill in certain circumstances and not leave a trace. This dovetails with the back story, in which the main character, a burnt-out cold case detective named Auhl, suspects a suave doctor had murdered two of his wives and intends to murder the third. And the drug resonates all through the book, most satisfyingly in the final chapter, in which...
Visit Garry Disher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 5, 2019

"The Outside"

Ada Hoffmann is the author of the space opera novel The Outside, the collection Monsters in My Mind, and over 60 published speculative short stories and poems.

Hoffmann applied the Page 69 Test to The Outside and reported the following:
The Outside is a novel about AI Gods, cosmic horrors, and an unfortunate scientist named Yasira Shien who's caught between them. On page 69, Yasira, has been summoned to help the Gods find her mentor, Dr. Evianna Talirr. She's been reading Dr. Talirr's allegedly heretical papers, and on this page, she's arguing with one of the angels (cyborg servants of the Gods).
"Is this a trick? Are these really Dr. Talirr's papers, or did you make fake ones somehow, to try to - I don't know - to get a reaction out of me, or to tempt me into agreeing with some of the heresy. Because this makes no sense! It's science, and the math checks out, but it makes no sense. Dr. Talirr wouldn't do this."
Yasira is having trouble assimilating the information about a woman she thought she could trust. But she's even more unsure what the information means about her, after all the time she spent working with Dr. Talirr and helping create a reactor based on Dr. Talirr's science.
Yasira took a short, fuming breath. She suddenly realized she was frightened, not angry. She didn't want to say this next part. But these were angels of Nemesis; they'd find out what she was thinking sooner or later.

"And," she said, "this is Dr. Talirr's worldview. It affects everything she does. So the Talirr-Shien Reactor is like this too, isn't it? I'm a heretic, too."
To some degree, page 69 is still setting things up. It's a pretty representative depiction of one of the main conflicts in the book. But at this point, the characters are still getting used to the basics of what that conflict is. In subsequent chapters, it's about to get much weirder.
Visit Ada Hoffmann's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

"Stone Cold Heart"

Caz Frear grew up in Coventry, England, and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the second finally came true. She has a degree in History & Politics, and when she’s not agonizing over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at Arsenal football matches or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about. Sweet Little Lies is her first novel.

Frear applied the Page 69 Test to Stone Cold Heart, her second novel featuring DC Cat Kinsella, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Parnell’s face is a picture as we wait by the reception desk, attracting stares and corner-of-the-mouth comments from the snappily dressed workforce. “Jesus, don’t tell me they’re the latest trend again?” he mutters as a redhead whips by us in blue velvet flares. “I had a pair of those back in the seventies and they were out of fashion then.”
This was a fun exercise! I’ll admit I assumed that every page of my novel would surely be in some way representative of the overall work, however page 69 let me down me badly.

On page 69, my main protagonist, Detective Constable Cat Kinsella, has gone with her partner, Detective Sergeant Luigi Parnell, to re-interview a witness at their office – the same office where the recently deceased victim also worked. The entire page is given over to their reactions to the youth-club style atmosphere they encounter and the millennial fashionistas who seem amused by their presence. The witness, Kirstie Connor, is the owner of the firm and she’s embarrassed by the upbeat atmosphere, aware it doesn’t exactly show the company culture in the best light (given someone just died). This isn’t essential to the plot but it hopefully gives the reader a sense of place. It also demonstrates that Kirstie Connor has at least some social awareness (up until this point, she’s been a fairly unsympathetic character).

While page 69 isn’t overly important in the grand scheme of things, it is the start of a very important chapter as the detectives find their first firm clue in this office. I also think the page gives a good snapshot of Cat and Parnell’s relationship. He’s the older father-figure while she’s the young gun, often helping him navigate modern culture.
Follow Caz Frear on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Sweet Little Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

"Green Valley"

Louis Greenberg is a renowned writer in his own right, having been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for his debut novel The Beggars’ Signwriters (2007), but is perhaps more known for his work with Sarah Lotz as one half of internationally bestselling S.L. Grey.

Green Valley is his first solo novel to be published outside his native South Africa. He is currently based in England.

Greenberg applied the Page 69 Test to Green Valley and reported the following:
From page 69:
It was near six when I got to the precinct. Though it had felt like a week, I’d only been in Green Valley for five hours, and I guessed Barbra would still be in the office.

I took a stabilising breath before hurrying and greeting the desk officer. ‘Hi. I know I shouldn’t be here after hours, but I’ve left my keys behind. I got all the way home and scratched around in my damn bag… they have to be on my desk. Well, I goddamn hope so. You mind if I go take a look?’

‘Sure,’ he said. ‘You gotta sign in, though.’

‘Of course,’ I said, hoping he wouldn’t look too closely at the dirt under my nails. Most of Green Valley had come off in the shower, but not all. After signing in, I patted my jacket’s inner pocket – the signal-proof pouch was still there. Even though I trusted the Sentinel tech’s capacity to block its signals, and the fact that I’d been able to smuggle it out of Zeroth’s liaison office undetected proved that it was working, I couldn’t help imagining radio-wave tendrils punching a microscopic hole through the pouch’s defences and speeding their way back to Zeroth to expose me. The sooner I handed this thing off, the better. And if Barbra wasn’t in the office? I’d have to hold onto it till the morning, feel Zeroth’s tentacles clawing out to it all night. Fuck, I hoped she was there.
While page 69 of Green Valley gives you a representative sense of the first-person narrative and the perspective, voice and concerns of Lucie Sterling, the main protagonist, it might mystify you if you open up here. It’s the very start of Part II, and it’ll be as if you’ve started a miniseries on episode two. You won’t know what Lucie’s just seen. She’s returned to Stanton from a very unsettling visit to Green Valley, an enclave across town where the remnants of a big-tech firm, Zeroth, live in permanent virtual reality. Eight years ago, Stanton voted to outlaw the internet and digital technology, and since then Green Valley has been shunned.

But now, dead Green Valley kids have been appearing in Stanton, and Lucie’s had no choice to go and see her brother-in-law – her dead sister’s niece is still inside Green Valley and nobody knows exactly where she is. And Lucie has other reasons for going in: she’s part of Sentinel, a covert policing unit run by Barbra Reeve that’s keeping tabs on Green Valley. This opportunity to go inside has offered a rare chance to bug the enclave. Now she wants to return the kit to Barbra and be done with it.

Although everything seemed fine inside Green Valley when she visited, Lucie can’t shake the feeling that everything isn’t quite as it seemed. Virtual reality has a way of doing that. And although Kira’s been located, Lucie’s not sure whether she can trust what she’s just experienced.

You’ll need to read on to find out more!
Visit Louis Greenberg's website.

Writers Read: Louis Greenberg.

--Marshal Zeringue