McBride applied the Page 69 Test to her young adult thriller, Very Bad Things, and reported the following:
Page 69 from Very Bad Things is rather an interesting one. It’s kind of the sigh that comes after being startled. Katie Barton has just opened a smelly, leaky package sent to her via her dorm at Whitney Prep. The package contains a severed hand with a rose tattoo that once was attached to Rose Tatum, a girl who’s gone missing and was last seen with Katie’s boyfriend, Mark Summers, son of the headmaster.Learn more about the book and author at Susan McBride's website.
In this scene, Katie’s desperate for a sense of normalcy to return to her life at Whitney but she’s not sure how to get it, despite the suggestions of her roommate and best friend, Tessa Lupinski. The point of view is Tessa’s.
Both characters realize at this point that their lives probably won’t ever be the same again. And they’re right.“You think coffee will make me feel normal?” Katie frowned, hugging a ragged stuffed bear that she’d brought to boarding school with her. “What if the psycho’s there, watching me?”
“So you’re never going to leave the dorm?”
“I will when they catch him,” Katie said, looking at her like she was nuts.
Katie wouldn’t even go to the bathroom by herself, and she made Tessa stand guard when she took a shower that night. Even though Tessa didn’t let anyone near her, Katie emerged white-faced and scared. She claimed she’d seen shadows outside the frosted glass door, like someone had walked past it, though Tessa assured her that no one had been anywhere near.
At bedtime, Katie insisted they leave the closet light on or she couldn’t go to sleep. It had been such a long day and Tessa was pretty bleary-eyed, so she went along with it. She wasn’t sure when they’d finally drifted off. Katie hadn’t gotten off the phone with her Mom until midnight, and then she’d spent another hour texting Mark. It was still dark outside when Tessa heard Katie’s whimpers.
“Tessa,” her friend called, her voice quavering. “Tessa!”
“I’m right here,” she said, flying across the room and grabbing Katie’s trembling hands. “It’s okay. Everything’s all right.”
“No.” Katie shook her head, hair falling in her face. Her eyes welled with tears. “I smelled roses again. Someone was in the room.”
The Page 69 Test: Little Black Dress.
Writers Read: Susan McBride.