Thursday, June 6, 2013


Elana K. Arnold completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse--a gorgeous mare named Rainbow--and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals.

Arnold applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Burning, and reported the following:
Page 69 [inset below, click to enlarge] finds us in the middle of a Tarot reading. Lala White is explaining to Ben Stanley the meaning of his Root of the Matter card--he has drawn the Hanged Man. In this card, he sees his father-- as he says on page 68, "On it was a man, swinging from one knee upside down from a a tree branch, his hands behind his back as if bound, his face corpse white. The same color as my dad's face after a day of work at the mine, coated with a fine layer of gypsum dust."

Ben Stanley lives in tiny Gypsum, Nevada, which is about to become a ghost town as the mine closes and everyone is forced to leave. Ben has a Golden Ticket--a full ride on a track/academic scholarship to UC San Diego--but he's leaving behind his family and friends. Those same friends have taken him to the canvas tent set up just outside the entrance to Burning Man, where Lala White and her family are telling fortunes to earn some extra cash.

On this page, we see some of Ben's despair, and his guilt: he's sure his Pops--and everyone else he loves--is screwed. Moreover, he sees himself, the "busy boy" on the Eight of Pentacles, who has worked really hard and is seeing the fruition of that work. But he can't let himself feel excitement or pride over his accomplishments. Right now, on page 69 of Burning, his guilt blinds him to everything else.

This book is about freedom and responsibility, about choice and repercussions. It's about love. It's about passion. And it's about creating our own futures, regardless of what the cards may say.
Learn more about the book and author at Elana K. Arnold's website and blog.

Writers Read: Elana K. Arnold (November 2012).

Writers Read: Elana K. Arnold.

--Marshal Zeringue