Monday, November 30, 2009


India Edghill lives in the Mid-Hudson Valley in New York. She is the author of the novels Wisdom's Daughter, which was a Romantic Times Nominee for Best Historical Fiction, and Queenmaker.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Delilah, and reported the following:
Page 69:
Even before we set our feet upon the dancing floor, the half-dozen Rising Moons who had been Chosen to Dance learned that all they had already been taught meant nothing now. We all gathered in the Dancing Court -- one of the oldest courtyards in the Great House of Atargatis -- eager to begin. The dancing floor was smooth-polished stone dark as deep night; the labyrinth pattern of the dance formed of yellow tiles inlaid into that shining black stone. So many feet had danced that intricate pathway in the long years since it had been laid down that the tiles glowed pale as lamplight.

Flute-players and drummers waited for us, as did Dark Moon Priestess Sharissit. Once she had been Lady of the Dance, the most sought-after of the Temple's dancers; now she served as Dance-Priestess and taught those Chosen to follow the same path she had done.

"So you are my new students." Sharissit regarded us intently, as if she would look into our hearts. "And like all the others I have taught, I suppose you think you already know how to dance?"

Silence; no one dared answer. I looked into the Dance-Priestess's eyes, and heard myself saying, "If we already knew how to dance, my lady Sharissit, we would not have been given into your care, that you might instruct us."

The Dance-Priestess studied me a moment. "A good answer -- and as you are so bold, I am certain you will be pleased to be chosen first to show me what you can do when the music calls."

Aylah's fingers brushed my hand and I sensed her rueful amusement. Now that it was too late, I wished I had remained silent, rather than trying to be clever; I only hoped I had not angered the Dance-Priestess.
Well, this is an interesting exercise.... I think page 69 is representative of the style and content of the rest of Delilah, which is a retelling (or, as they like to say these days, "reimaging") of the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah. That tale has lasted at least 3,000 years, and it's got everything: a hero who does great deeds, lots of action and sex, and a slinky villainess. Or was she a villainess? Better writers than I have pointed out that from the Philistines' point of view, Delilah was a heroine, stopping the ravages of a hot-tempered warrior who slew Philistines at the drop of an ass's jawbone. The story of Samson and Delilah has been told and retold in songs, operas, poems, novels, miniseries, major motion pictures (the 1949 Cecil B. deMille Samson and Delilah, a movie which influenced me greatly), and even an episode of Pinky and the Brain. My Delilah is a devout priestess of her goddess Atargatis (and since I always wanted to be able to dance, I made Delilah a dancer); my Samson is a good-hearted man who can't understand that others don't possess his kindness and sweet nature. But the Israelites see Samson as their own leader, while the Philistines see him as a deadly threat, the woman they both love is sacrificed to political scheming, and Delilah and Samson are forced into deadly action. Will my page 69 lure in readers? I don't know -- but I hope so!
Read an excerpt from Delilah, and learn more about the book and author at India Edghill's website. Watch the Delilah video trailer.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue