Sunday, February 1, 2015


S.G. Redling burst onto the scene with Flowertown, a high-octane conspiracy thriller that earned her fans around the globe and was followed by bestsellers including the space adventure Damocles and techno-thrillers The Widow File and Redemption Key. In her latest novel, Ourselves, Redling charts new territory – and puts a fascinating new twist on vampire lore – in telling the story of the Nahan, a human race who live among, but are startlingly different from, “common” humans.

Redling applied the Page 69 Test to Ourselves and reported the following:
Ourselves takes us into a hidden world of predators who live among us. The Nahan have manipulated myths about monsters throughout history to hide their presence. They’re human in every sense – complicated, dangerous, and emotional. They have strong social ties, deep mythology, and strict rules for interaction with the outside world.

From Page 69:
“What about school? If you had applied yourself more in school you would have had the grades to get into any college you chose but instead you and Louis had to party and play and fool around. And now neither of you will be able to get into college on your own. Do you think Aricelli is going to need her transcripts doctored? No, she managed to get the grades—”

“Mom! We’re not talking about Aricelli. Or college. This has nothing to do with—”

“It has everything to do with college! It’s called having options, Thomas.”

“And stop calling me Thomas! My name is Tomas!”
This wouldn’t have been my first thought when asked for a representational passage but I’m surprised how fitting it is. We’re thrown into this shadow world in our midst, meeting these people, the Nahan, who can be so different and so dangerous, but here we see how very human they are. Right before this scene, Tomas has realized he’s called for an incredibly difficult path – training with the Storytellers. This is a life-changing decision that will impact their entire community. It requires a huge sacrifice and brutal training.

But first, he has to get yelled at by his mom.

Is there anything more human?
Visit S.G. Redling's Facebook page and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Ourselves.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 31, 2015

"Snow Like Ashes"

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures.

Raasch applied the Page 69 Test to her debut YA fantasy novel, Snow Like Ashes, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Snow Like Ashes is a scene in which Meira talks with Mather, the future king of Winter, about their kingdom's plight. It's a good representation of the book, as it deals with the struggle that Meira faces -- helping her kingdom -- while expanding on the relationship she has with both Mather and their leader, Sir.
Visit Sara Raasch's website.

My Book, The Movie: Snow Like Ashes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 30, 2015

"Uncle Janice"

Matt Burgess is the critically acclaimed author of Dogfight, A Love Story. A graduate of Dartmouth and the University of Minnesota's MFA program, he grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Uncle Janice, and reported the following:
Uncle Janice is a novel about the NYPD, specifically about a young undercover narcotics cop who’s risking her life to buy dime bags. For the purposes of this assignment I turned to page 69, hopeful I might find some tense scene to excerpt, with a bit of gunplay and a narrow escape, or a passage that might illuminate the folly of the war on drugs, or at the very least some intra-precinct shenanigans, something that might entice you to plunk down your $25.95 and add to cart, but this is what I got instead: my courageous young heroine, Janice Itwaru, at home with her mom, who’s been diagnosed with early onset dementia. And what are they doing? They’re watching Wheel of Fortune.
Janice sat next to her on the couch with their shoulders touching while Pat Sajak did his heroic best to conceal his boredom. Like Banagrams, oily fish, pumpkin seeds, and folic acid, television game shows were supposed to fortify her mother’s brain, and so Janice was forbidden to solve any of the puzzles out loud or make sarcastic comments about Vanna’s plunge line or really say anything at all until the commercials, when her mother muted the television with the remote, which lately she’d been calling the picture-stick. At the first commercial break they debated whether the middle contestant came across as cocky. (He totally did.) At the second break, Janice asked her if she wanted to go to the Salvation Army that weekend to pick out crackhead clothes.
I gotta tell you, I’m sort of delighted. The passage is a reminder to me that no matter how I may want to market it, this book is less a police procedural than a coming of age story. Janice is in her early 20s, an impossible time for anyone. She doesn’t yet know who she is because she’s so many people in so many different contexts. On the streets she acts like a fiending drug addict in crackhead clothes, at work like an ambitious shield-chaser. She’s a certain kind of person around her partner, different around other colleagues, different around her superiors, different around her ex-boyfriend, different around her mother, around her father, her older sister, at the local bar by herself, in her head, at night when she can’t fall asleep, but throughout it all she is consistently overwhelmed, trying to navigate the absurdist bureaucracy of the NYPD while retaining some sense of personal agency, whatever that might mean for her. At the end of the page 69 scene, she announces she’s solved the bonus puzzle, but she hasn’t really. She doesn’t yet know all the words. She’s faking it till she makes it, which is why I’m rooting for her and I hope you will too.
Visit the official Matt Burgess website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Deliver Us"

Kathryn Casey is an award-winning journalist, who has written for Rolling Stone, TV Guide, Reader's Digest, Texas Monthly, and many other publications. She's the author of several previous true crime books and the creator of the highly acclaimed Sarah Armstrong mystery series. Casey has appeared on Oprah, Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen network, Biography, Nancy Grace, E! network, truTV, Investigation Discovery, the Travel Channel, and A&E.

Casey applied the Page 69 Test to her new book, Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields, and reported the following:
From page 69:
It would later seem that brief investigation set the tone for their future encounters. “I leaned on Mike real hard about it,” Morris testified, describing the first time he interrogated Self. “He respected me as far as what I could do to him.”

“Was Mike Self afraid of you?” a lawyer asked.

“That’s a fair statement. Yes,” he responded.

At other times, Morris said much the same in even stronger terms, admitting that Mike Self was “scared to death of me.”

When it came to the question of where the bad blood originated, some said that Morris resented Self because he was a friend of the former police chief, whom Morris made it clear he couldn’t abide. Weeks before he was even questioned about the two murders, Self, who’d had psychiatric treatment after he’d been accused of being a Peeping Tom, told a Webster police officer that Morris had “threatened to get him.” It was around daybreak less than a month after Morris took over as Webster’s police chief, when Tommy Deal and another officer were dispatched to the Texaco station where Self worked to talk to him about the girls’ murders.
This excerpt from page 69 is, in a sense, representative of the book. Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields explores the murders of dozens of teenage girls and young women over three decades along a stretch of I-45 south of Houston and going onto Galveston Island. For decades, the girls’ photos have been published on a chart of notorious cases that’s often run in newspapers along the Gulf Coast, under headings like “Unsolved” and “I-45 Mysteries.”

Eleven of the murders took place in the 1970s, six of the girls dying in pairs. Mike Self, who pumped gas in an era pre-dating self-serve, was convicted of two murders, those of fourteen-year-old best friends Sharon Shaw and Rhonda Renee Johnson. Sadly, Self died in prison for the murders, although the prevailing opinion is that he wasn’t guilty.

This passage is representative of the book because it illustrates the doubts and the hysteria surrounding these cases. Many wonder if the girls’ murders would have been solved with better police work – obviously absent in the Self case, where lawmen allegedly played Russian roulette to get him to confess.

By the time Shaw’s and Johnson’s remains were discovered in early 1972, months after their disappearances, five other girls had vanished. That put the body count at seven. In response, parents throughout the Houston-Galveston area panicked. They locked their daughters in their homes, refusing to let them walk unaccompanied outside. And they demanded answers. Police, seen as ineffective, were highly criticized. The pressure built, and Self, it appears, became a scapegoat. This, of course, only multiplied the tragedy.

How do we know Mike Self was innocent? One possible indicator is that while he sat in a Texas prison proclaiming his innocence, girls continued to die along I-45.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Casey's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Singularity.

The Page 99 Test: Blood Lines.

The Page 69 Test: The Killing Storm.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"An Appetite for Violets"

Martine Bailey’s first historical novel, An Appetite for Violets, is a gastronomic mystery tale set in 18th century Europe. Written as a book of recipes, it takes a young cook on a murderous trip from England to Italy. Bailey lives in Chester, England and as an amateur cook, won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion.

Bailey applied the Page 69 Test to An Appetite for Violets and reported the following:
The opening location of An Appetite for Violets is Mawton Hall, a run-down Country House in the rural north of England. Emotions are running high. The servants have long been neglected and Biddy Leigh, a feisty young under-cook has reluctantly got herself involved with a secretive adventuress, Lady Carinna, newly married to the elderly and absent master. To the servants’ astonishment, Lady Carinna has announced that she is about to undertake a journey to Italy and that Biddy Leigh is to accompany her.

By page 69 Biddy has been browbeaten into agreeing to go with her and she makes her peace with her mentor, the kindly cook Mrs Garland. It is time for the old cook to offer some truths and advice to Biddy:
‘Now listen to me, Biddy. If you only listen once, do it now. I’ve been puzzling, and it seems to me you have two ways ahead of you.’ Her eyes shone as bright as a young girl’s as they met mine. ‘You can suffer all this as a trial and waste a whole year complaining.’ I lifted my head sharpish at that, but she would not be interrupted. ‘Or you can learn to be more than a plain cook like me. Learn how to make those fancy French bomboons and dishes à la mode. What a chance, girl,’ she said, shaking my captive hand. ‘I have seen advertisements for cooks with the French Style and do you know what they offer? Twenty guineas a year. You shall be a cook to nobility.’

‘But I am marrying Jem when I get back.’ I spoke it like an article of faith that only I believed in. She sighed, her solid bosom heaving.

‘Then cook at this alehouse Jem boasts of. I’ve heard there are taverns that sell spanking fine food in London. Oh, if I had my youth again I should dearly love to try what they offer. And as for Paris! This could be the making of you, with the talents God has given you. You shall taste food I never even dreamed of.’

‘I think not.’ I was quite fixed on being miserable. ‘I am only the pan-tosser, taken along so Her Ladyship needn’t eat foreign stuff.’
The old cook goes on to offer Biddy two gifts, in the manner of a fairy godmother. The first is the marvelous Household book of recipes, called The Cook’s Jewel. Biddy’s task is to keep a journal in its freshly added pages, especially any new receipts (recipes) she tries out:
‘Write it all down for your old friend, Biddy. Tell me what you see, who you meet, and mostly – what you eat. Write careful descriptions and copy the receipts if you can.’
Mrs Garland’s second gift is a beautiful silver knife, once the possession of the master’s first and truly genteel wife. The two women joke about how it will be useful for ‘chopping garlics’ and ‘skinning frogs’ on the Continent – but of course the reader is already guessing that Biddy may have other needs of a good sharp knife at some future time, on a dangerous journey that will culminate in murder…
Visit Martine Bailey's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: An Appetite for Violets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"The Conspiracy of Us"

Maggie Hall indulges her obsession with distant lands and far-flung adventures as often as she can. She has played with baby tigers in Thailand, learned to make homemade pasta in Italy, and taken thousands of miles of trains through the vibrant countryside of India. In her past life, she was a bookstore events coordinator and marketing manager, and when she’s not on the other side of the world, she lives with her husband and their cats in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she watches USC football, dabbles in graphic design, and blogs about young adult literature for YA Misfits.

Hall applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Conspiracy of Us, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Elisa led me to a three-way mirror, where a girl who hardly looked like me stared back in triplicate. In the silver gown, the girl looked more serious, more elegant, then they changed me into the gold dress again, and she was glamorous, striking.

I found myself hoping fiercely that my mom would let me stay for the ball, and even a little longer. Meet the Saxons, find out more about my father's family and the rest of the Circle. To feel like I belonged in this strange, fascinating world.

"You have to choose eventually." Elisa smiled. In the mirror, the gold sequins shimmered. But there was something about the silver. It belonged on me.

Aimee unzipped the gold dress and left me to get out of it, following Elisa downstairs to wrap the silver one. I watched it go. I couldn't believe that, just like that, it was going to be mine.

I was about step out of the gold dress when I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. "Elisa?" I said. "Aimee?" There was no answer.

In case it was one of the men come to escort me down, I zipped the dress up.

The girls were nowhere in sight, but the man who had let us in stood at the top of the staircase.

"Sorry, I'm not ready yet," I said. I smiled at him, and he reached into his jacket pocket.

He pulled out something that, for a moment, didn't register. It was too discordant with the marble floors, the dresses, the Bach chiming from the speakers.

It was a knife.
Hilariously, page 69-70 is the excerpt on the back of The Conspiracy of Us! So yes, I suppose it’s a pretty good introduction to the book. There’s danger. There’s action. There are beautiful ball gowns. And Avery is thinking about everything that’s happening to her, so you’d have a pretty good idea about her family and how she feels about her new situation if you read only this page—which is why we chose it for the back!

And as for whether a reader would read on? If I were a reader, I would! I'd be dying to see what Avery would do in this situation. I hope other readers feel the same way!
Visit Maggie Hall's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 26, 2015


New York Times bestselling author William C. Dietz has published more than forty novels some of which have been translated into German, French, Russian, Korean and Japanese. He also wrote the script for the Legion of the Damned game (i-Phone, i-Touch, & i-Pad) based on his book of the same name--and co-wrote SONY's Resistance: Burning Skies game for the PS Vita.

Dietz applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, The Mutant Files; Deadeye, and reported the following:
Detective Cassandra Lee of LA’s Special Investigative Section has built a fierce reputation taking down some of the city’s most notorious criminals. But the serial cop killer known as Bonebreaker—who murdered Lee’s father—is still at large. Officially, she’s too personally involved to work on the Bonebreaker case. Unofficially, she’s determined to hunt him down, no matter what the cost.

In the meantime, duty calls when the daughter of Bishop Screed, head of the Church of Human Purity, is kidnapped by mutants and taken into the red zone to be used for breeding. In order to try and rescue her, Lee must find a way to trust her new partner—a mutant lawman named Deputy Ras Omo—who will try to guide her through a dangerous land where women are bought are sold.

That’s a broad overview of the story—and here’s what happens on page 69:
McGinty sighed. “The bishop has a point you know... Female norms have been kidnapped and taken into the red zone for use as surrogate mothers. Let's say you're a mutant, you're wealthy, and you hope to produce a normal child. A paid or forced surrogacy is the only way to accomplish that... And given the risk of contracting B. nosilla while in the red zone--very few norms are willing to go there for money."

Lee had heard of such kidnappings but believed them to be rare. The people who ran the Republic of Texas wanted to prevent such crimes lest they be used as an excuse to declare war. The Aztec empire made no secret of its desire to take large chunks of Arizona and Texas back-- so the last thing the Republicans needed was a conflict with Pacifica. "Yes, sir," Lee said. "The surrogate thing is a possibility. But first things first."

"Such as?"

"Such as talking to those bodyguards. Plus it seems safe to assume that the surrounding stores are equipped with security cameras. So I'll want to review any footage they have. When did the kidnapping take place?"

"Yesterday," McGinty replied. "At 3:36 PM."

"So detectives responded? If so, I'll need to read their reports."

McGinty nodded. "One thing though..."


"Detectives Yanty and Prospo were assigned to the case. They won't like being taken off of it by the Chief--and they won't like being replaced by you."

Lee frowned. "Me? What did I do?"

McGinty stood. "You're a member of the S.I.S. and a publicity hound... That's the way they're likely to see it."

Lee rose as well. "So what am I supposed to do?"

McGinty shrugged. "Do what you always do... Solve the case."
Note: That’s page 69 of what I have but--that could shift slightly when the actual book comes out. As it happens this chunk of text would give a reader a sense of who Cassandra Lee is, her relationship with her boss, and the kidnap case that’s she working on.
The Mutant Files trilogy will continue with Redzone and Graveyard. For more about Dietz and his fiction, visit his website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Andromeda's Fall.

My Book, The Movie: Andromeda's Fall.

The Page 69 Test: Andromeda's Choice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"My Chemical Mountain"

Corina Vacco trespassed on toxic land and wrote the first draft of her debut novel, My Chemical Mountain, while parked in her car at the foot of a radioactive landfill—this book went on to win the Delacorte Prize for a First Young Adult Novel, was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and made the shortlist for the 2014 Green Earth Book Award.

Vacco applied the Page 69 Test to My Chemical Mountain and reported the following:
My Chemical Mountain is a gritty, coming-of-age story about three boys whose lives have been poisoned, physically and emotionally, by a toxic landfill at the edge of their blue-collar town. The boys boldly swim in the chunky orange waters of Two Mile Creek, race their dirt bikes on Chemical Mountain, and claim the industrial yards as their territory. But the main character, Jason, quietly rages against wealthy and powerful Mareno Chem, the company that’s responsible for the gruesome death of his father and for the inescapable pollution that has seeped into every corner of Jason’s life. He wants revenge, but revenge comes with a price—and more than one person will pay…

From page 69:
It’s windy tonight. I stand under a busted streetlight at the edge of the industrial yards. I have on a black sweatshirt and my best jeans. I can’t stop moving, jumping in place, kicking little chunks of asphalt. I look in the direction of Val’s street, but it’s so dark, she could be ten feet away and I wouldn’t be able to see her. I turn toward the creek. Tonight the water is alien-green, softly glowing—it couldn’t have been more perfect. I wish I’d told Val to bring her swimsuit.

“Hey, you.” Val sneaks up behind me and puts her arms around my shoulders. “I brought sandwiches and a big bag of corn chips. I forgot something to drink, though.”

The last thing on my mind is food.

We climb through a torn section of the chain-link fence. Val snags the knee of her pink exercise pants, but she doesn’t make a big deal of it. We walk to the creek and sit quietly on the water’s edge.

“The water is so pretty tonight,” she says. “Is this what you wanted to show me?”

I turn on my flashlight and hand it to her. “Hold this for a second. I’ll be right back.”
Page 69 is representative of the book in setting and tone. It takes place at the edge of horribly-contaminated Two Mile Creek, the boys’ favorite summer hangout, and Jason thinks nothing of bringing a girl to its shores on a first date! This page also sets up one of my favorite scenes, in which Val pages through Jason’s sketchbook full of monsters, into which he’s channeled so much of his anger.

“You felt like this?” she asks him upon seeing the scariest monster of all. “Sometimes,” he tells her.

The next morning, Jason will break into the Mareno Chem building. But on this night, he’s not going to feel scared about that. On this night, there’s a first kiss, and Jason shows Val a special place hidden below the industrial yards…
Visit Corina Vacco's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Alex as Well"

Alyssa Brugman was born in Rathmines, Lake Macquarie, Australia in May 1974. She attended five public schools before completing a Marketing Degree at the University of Newcastle. In 2014 she was awarded a PhD in Communication from Canberra University.

Brugman has worked as an after-school tutor for Aboriginal children. She taught management, accounting and marketing at a business college, worked for a home improvements company and then worked in Public Relations before becoming a full-time writer. She currently runs a small business providing hoofcare, equine rehabilitation and producing nutritional supplements for horses.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Alex as Well, and reported the following:
I don’t have a copy of the US edition, but in the Australian edition, on page 69 the reader discovers that when Alex (the male Alex) doesn’t take her medication, she grows breasts. Alex is intersex, but she doesn’t know.

Initially this manuscript was an exercise in unreliable narration, and specifically how do you tell a reader things that the character doesn’t know. I studied a range of narrative devices that could be applied for this purpose and on this page is an example.

“And it doesn’t cross my mind to make a connection between these little buds of breasts and the medication I’m not taking.”

If it doesn’t cross the character’s mind then how can she tell the reader? This sentence exists outside the story. It doesn’t occur inside the character’s head, and it has no place within the timeframe of the story. It is discourse. It’s an authorial utterance, rather than a character one. When you see discourse embedded in a story it is generally because the author has information that needs to be imparted to you, the reader, at this time in the story, because it’s preparation for something coming up.
Visit Alyssa Brugman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Alex as Well.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"The Ghosts of Heaven"

Marcus Sedgwick was born and raised in East Kent in the South-east of England. He now divides his time between a small village near Cambridge and a remote house in the French Alps.

Sedgwick is the winner of many prizes, most notably the Printz Award (Midwinterblood), the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Blue Peter Book Award. His books have been shortlisted for over thirty other awards, including the Carnegie Medal (five times), the Edgar Allan Poe Award (twice) and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (five times). In 2011 Revolver was awarded a Printz Honor.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Ghosts of Heaven, and reported the following:
I love the concept of The Page 69 Test. I have a strange fondness for arbitrary things in general and when it comes to writing, I like arbitrary things even more. There is so much that is subjective about writing; as a writer, it is almost impossible to separate your work from your psyche, from your unconscious thought processes, and very often, as you work, decisions you make about story-telling may seem utterly arbitrary. Occasionally, they might genuinely be so, but very often they’re not. Sometimes years have to go by before you realise that a decision you took was not at all arbitrary but in fact had to be that way, for reasons of story logic, of the truth of what you were trying to do. So given that so much of writing is subjective, I like anything that even makes a stab at providing objectivity, and that’s why something that is genuinely arbitrary, or random, feels like a friend. So thank you for asking me to look at page 69 of my new book, The Ghosts of Heaven.

If it’s true that the DNA of a story runs through every page, it must also be true that some pages show it off a bit more obviously that others. The gods of writing have smiled on me, for page 69 of The Ghosts of Heaven (in the US edition) is for me one of the central ideas in the book. The book is split into four sections, each a novella in its own right, and each is a musing over the image, and meaning, of the spiral. The first part, set in the Neolithic age, is called Whispers in the Dark, in which the protagonist is a teenage girl who is on the cusp of making the link between a mark and the spoken word. When she does so she will effectively have invented writing, a step in our evolution without which civilisation could not have come to exist. The fact that she’s a teenage girl is yet again not arbitrary, nor is it some sop to those who think books for young people have can only be about young people, an idea that drives me crazy, rather it’s because I’ve been thinking for some time about the role of the teenager in our evolution – something I wrote about at length here.

Page 69 comes from the closing pages of this section of the book, in which the unnamed girl finally makes the connection. She’s unnamed very purposefully – how do we know what the names and the languages of our Neolithic ancestors were, or even sounded like? Any attempt to guess would, I felt, have been clumsy and embarrassing. In order to avoid such matters, I chose to make another deliberate decision, to write this part of the book in blank verse, to hopefully mysterious air to it, and distance us somewhat from the Modern.

So, being in verse, page 69 is fairly short, and yet it says everything I wanted to say in this part of the book. Since it’s short, here’s the whole thing:
She sees the sand by the fire-pit,
back at the camp.
She sees her stick-tip in the sand,
and now she finally knows what it means.
What it could mean,
to make a mark in the sand.

If there was a way,
she thinks.
To make a mark in the sand.
And that mark to be known by all.
And that mark to have a meaning.
A meaning known to all.
There could be different marks
for different meanings.
Then there could be a mark to mean go
and one to mean follow
and one to mean find
and one to mean help.
And then, she thinks,
there could have been a mark to mean run!
And if she had made that mark in the sand,
then her people might have seen it
and run,
and not died in the sand
by the dying fire pit.

Now that she understands,
it seems so easy.
Writing, language, speech – it’s so easy to take these things for granted, to forget that without words we would be nothing and would have nothing. It’s these things that lifted us from the bestial and that have provided us not only with civilisation, but with the most entertaining, enlightening and transcendent aspects of it.
Visit Marcus Sedgwick's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"The Deep"

Nick Cutter is a pseudonym for an acclaimed author of novels and short stories. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Deep, and reported the following:
I wouldn't say page 69 of The Deep is particularly representative of the book, no. Ultimately, if the book had an underlying theme, it would go along the lines of "Nick grapples with the birth of his son, being a father, and trying to cope with the enormity of responsibility that involves." Of course you might be thinking, "Nick, this book takes place at the bottom of the ocean—how can that be the subtext?" To which I might say, Well, horror takes many different manifestations and perhaps the truest horror comes from trying to grapple with those quotidian day-to-day things that actually terrify you most deeply, like wondering if you're the right person to be raising this tiny life. That, infused with the constant worry that I seem to feel every waking minute (or I did while I was writing the novel, when my son was younger and liable to tumble down the basement stairs or stick his tongue in a light socket or spike a fever that had us rushing to the ER) is what this book is really about, subtextually. The idea of losing that which is most precious to you, and being somehow responsible for it in some way. These were completely new fears to me, and they were the ones I ended up investigating in this book, along with the more obvious fears humankind might feel 8 miles below the ocean's surface: darkness and pressure and claustrophobia.
Visit Nick Cutter's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Fear the Darkness"

Becky Masterman grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and received her MA in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Fear the Darkness, the second book in the Brigid Quinn Series, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“These things happen with equivocal death. Guy pushes his wife down the stairs. Kid road trips her dad who’s got dementia and says he must have wandered away...”

“Equivocal death. Sounds like Brigid Code for murder. Chilling. I’m chilled.”
In my first thriller, Rage Against the Dying, I introduced Brigid Quinn, a 50-something (emphasis on something) retired FBI very special agent. In that story, Brigid got herself in trouble with the one serial killer she had failed to catch during her career. But the thing about Brigid is that, always a loner, she was never part of the world she sought to protect. In Rage she learned what it’s like to be a wife. In Fear the Darkness, she makes her first friend.

The passage quoted above is a bit of dialogue between Brigid and her friend Mallory Hollinger, a wealthy Tucson socialite. Wry, occasionally snarky, and just as vibrant, Brigid says that Mallory is like her, except for the angst.

Is it a thriller? Well, throw in a borderline crazy mother who refuses to believe her son’s drowning was accidental, a visitor who introduces evil to Brigid’s otherwise peaceful home, a pug who may have been poisoned, and some symptoms that make you wonder if super woman Brigid herself hasn’t had a dose of kryptonite, and you have the makings of something more than your average women’s novel.
Learn more about Fear the Darkness at Becky Masterman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rage Against the Dying.

The Page 69 Test: Rage Against the Dying.

My Book, The Movie: Fear the Darkness.

--Marshal Zeringue