He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, Mad Skills, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Mad Skills is the last page of Chapter Nine, which is titled Homecoming Queen. The chapter is an important one, because it’s about Maddy Grant’s experience returning home after being in a semi-vegetative state for over a year. But it is not quite the joyous homecoming she had hoped for—her computer-enhanced perceptions keep revealing uncomfortable truths. She is reminded of her parents’ painful divorce, and the death of her almost-stepbrother, Ben Blevin. All her family and friends seem idiotic to her…or weirdly suspicious, as is the case with her parochial school principal, Mr. Batrachian. After an awkward conversation about religion, Maddy senses he’s hiding something, and page 69 begins with her saying:Read more about Mad Skills, and visit Walter Greatshell's website and blog.
“Because right now you’re less afraid of Hell than you are of me.”
Turning pale, the Principal excused himself and fell into hearty
conversation with someone else.
The next time her mother came by to see how she was doing, Maddy asked, “Mom, why isn’t Mr. Blevin here?”
Taken aback, Beth Grant said, “Wouldn’t you rather talk about this later? When we can be alone?”
“I’d prefer to talk about it now, actually.”
“Well, honey, after what happened, Sam and I aren’t seeing each other any more. He moved away.”
Maddy was shocked. “When was this?”
“It’s been months now. I think it was too painful for him. Seeing you always reminded him too much of Ben.”
“But that’s why I wanted to talk to him.”
“I know, honey. But I think that would be very difficult for him. I’m sorry. That’s why I didn’t tell you sooner, because I thought you should be the one to bring it up.”
“So you’re back on the market, then.”
“No. Actually your dad’s moving in with us for the time being.”
“We’ve been discussing it, and he and I both feel it’s better for all of us to be together right now.”
Maddy smiled for the first time in a long, long time. “That’s great,” she said. “That’s really great.”
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