He applied the Page 69 Test to Until the Next Time, his debut novel, and reported the following:
When I opened Until the Next Time to page 69, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was the beginning of the chapter in which Sean, the naïve protagonist, arrives in Ireland. Sean has traveled abroad in order to try and solve the mystery surrounding his uncle’s death twenty-six years before and to clear his uncle’s name for the murder he had allegedly committed back in the States. It is the beginning of a scene that introduces one of my favorite characters, the foul-mouthed romantic, Anne, who will be Sean’s guide in Ireland, and in life, for the rest of the novel. As a representative page it is probably not as humorous nor as dramatic as other pages, but it does set up a key relationship in the book.Learn more about the book and author at Kevin Fox's website.
I felt like I was at a bus station somewhere in Ohio, surrounded by overweight Americans and the industrial-strength smell that is common to all transit hubs, whether it’s an international airport or a bus terminal in Cleveland. But I wasn’t in Ohio, even if it could have passed for it. I was waiting for my luggage in Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland and was severely disappointed. As I watched the people around me, complaining about the airline food, the usual travel delays, and the rude passengers they’d traveled with, I started to wonder if there were actually any native Irish in the place.Sean’s introduction to Anne belies the fact that she is actually one of the more sensitive characters in the novel, hiding her vulnerability beneath a crass exterior. In spite of her original resentment toward Sean, she will protect him as he inadvertently prods ex-IRA terrorists with his questions that threaten to expose their past with his uncle, during the ‘Troubles’ in 1972. Anne also functions as a welcoming committee Sean can comprehend and feel familiar with, given his family background, and although he’s never been to Ireland before, he feels as I did the first time I arrived in Shannon – as if it was a sort of homecoming.
As I grabbed my luggage, I finally noticed a few natives, easy to spot. They didn’t push, just waited patiently and watched for whatever relative’s luggage they needed, sliding back out with a deft “Excuse me” and “Thank you” once they’d retrieved it. I took my cue from them and waited patiently. My flight had gotten in a little early and I’d cleared customs two minutes before I was originally due to land.
I had no idea who I was meeting or what they might look like. My father’s only comment was that it would be “one of yer uncle Patsy’s kids. How the feck should I know what they look like? Like a cousin of yours, I’d bet.” He was always so helpful. As I waited, I overheard a bit of conversation that I couldn’t ignore.
“Jaysus, ’ave ya ever seen such a brilliant mass a amadans in one bloody place?” It was a woman’s voice, sweet, almost lilting. If I didn’t understand her words, I would’ve thought she were reciting poetry.
“Yeah. Yer da’s place at holiday time.” That voice was male and typical Irish. He mumbled. I turned to look and spotted a young woman no more than twenty years old, with a face that definitely did not match her words. She had fine, almost elfin features with a smattering of freckles and reddish-blond hair. You might have called her delicate until you saw her eyes, which had the sharp look of a fifty-year-old con artist—the kind you see at the baccarat tables in Atlantic City. She was sipping a Guinness, even though it was only a little after noon local time, and as she turned I noticed a streak of blue in her hair. She seemed to be trying hard to overcome her natural beauty.
The man with her was the opposite: clean shaven, sharply dressed, and handsomely dark. He looked like he’d stepped out of a GQ ad. I never would have looked at either of them twice if I hadn’t heard what the foul-mouthed little elf said next.
“I don’t know why the feckin’ eejit picked me to meet this Yank gobshite of a cousin, do you?”