Sunday, April 10, 2016

"Twenty Questions for Gloria"

Martyn Bedford’s first novel for young adults, Flip, won multiple awards in Britain and has been translated into eight languages. His second novel for young adults, Never Ending, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. He has also written five novels for adults, including The Houdini Girl.

Bedford applied the Page 69 Test to his new YA novel, Twenty Questions for Gloria, and reported the following:
My heart sank when I flipped to page 69 of the American edition of Twenty Questions for Gloria and discovered that it falls at the end of a chapter and contains less than half a page of text. Was there a rule about this – like a minimum-height limit for kids standing in line for a rollercoaster ride? Had my page 69 failed the test already, not on grounds of quality but because it just wasn’t tall enough?

Then I read what was there and my heart rose again. If I’d been allowed to choose any extract to encapsulate what the novel is about, I couldn’t have picked a better one. So, here it is:
D.I. Ryan:Then he disappears for three days. And, when he returns, he backs off, gives you space. Lets you make all the running. Then he’s flirting with you again. Being interested in you, hanging out with you – reeling you back in. Only, he’s so good at it you don’t even realise.

I don’t care what you think, he didn’t trick me or manipulate me. It just wasn’t like that.

D.I. Ryan:
Okay, Gloria – tell me. What was it like?
As you’ll see, this scene is laid out like a script. That’s because this is a transcript of the recording of a police interview, in which Detective Inspector Katharine Ryan is questioning the heroine – Gloria Jade Ellis – about the fifteen days when she was on the run with the mysterious new boy at her school. Gloria has turned up but the boy, Uman Padeem, is still missing and the police have to find out what happened.

I should say that only a handful of chapters are in script form, as the interview unfolds. In between, we have the back story of how Gloria and Uman became such close friends, why they disappeared together without telling anyone, and what took place during the time they were missing.

The police, and Gloria’s parents, are convinced that she was, if not abducted by Uman, then lured away under a spell of infatuation ... and that something bad happened to her while she was with him. In the scene which ends on page 69, D.I. Ryan is asking about the early days of their friendship, when Uman initially came on strong to Gloria, only to back away before being friendly again. Gloria was being groomed, the police believe.

She insists she wasn’t – that they’ve got Uman all wrong, that they’ve got the relationship wrong, too. According to Gloria, she chose to run off with him because he offered her the recklessness and adventure she craved in her life. She wasn’t his victim, she was his partner in crime. The question for the police, and the reader, to figure out is whether Gloria’s telling the truth. And why only one of them made it back.
Visit Martyn Bedford's website.

--Marshal Zeringue