Sunday, June 10, 2007

"No Humans Involved"

Kelley Armstrong is the author of the internationally bestselling series, The Otherworld.

She applied the "page 69 test" to her new novel, No Humans Involved, and reported the following:
Page 69 of No Humans Involved starts a new chapter, so it’s only a half page. It doesn’t reveal much about the plotline, but it’s a decent representative sample of my writing and story-telling style.

It’s an interrogation scene. That suggests a thriller/mystery plot. True, though the references to a murder are incidental to the main plot — the protagonist is only using that knowledge as leverage. There’s passing mention of “spell” and “witch,” which would indicate supernatural elements. Again true, though the witches only appear in this sequence — the narrator is a necromancer (talks to the dead.) You have three women in a “tough action”-style setting (a forced interrogation) suggesting a “kick-ass heroine” story. While this protagonist is strong, she’s definitely not “kick-ass” — here she’s just trying to salvage some dignity after being rescued by a teen witch.

So after reading page 69, you’d probably come away with the general impression that this is a supernatural thriller with a strong female protagonist, heavy on action and dialogue, written in a contemporary voice. That pretty much nails it. If you try to determine what the plot itself is about based on this sample, it doesn’t work as well. But, with any luck, reading page 69 would at least intrigue you enough to scan the jacket copy.

Page 69 of No Humans Involved:

Back in the clearing, we forced Molly to kneel. She wasn’t gagged or silenced by a spell, but she hadn’t said a word. Hadn’t tried to escape. Just watched us warily, tensed to fight, but making no move to start one.

I waved Savannah back. She hesitated -- maybe a reflection on her faith in my interrogation abilities, but more likely just an instinct to take charge -- her parents’ daughter to the core. After a moment, she backed off with a nod.

I stood over Molly. “You screwed up. You’ve been on the dark side so long, you think everybody is just as devious and dangerous as you. I was telling you the truth. All I wanted was information, and I was offering a fair deal in return. I had no idea what really happened to Mike until you got paranoid and started confessing.”

“I never admitted—”

“True. We can go that route. I take you into custody. You plead your innocence before the council.”

Molly’s eyes narrowed.

“Or we can leave the council out of this. Killing Mike wasn’t the solution I’d have come up with, but from what you’ve said, it wasn’t completely unjustified. More of an overuse of force than murder. You had a good reason—”

“I did. That bastard tried to—”

Savannah cut her off. “Heard it already.”

I glanced over at the young witch. She’d settled onto the grass,
Check out Kelley Armstrong's website and read an excerpt from No Humans Involved.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue