Monday, September 17, 2007

"Grave Imports"

Eric Stone is the author of the novels Living Room of the Dead and, due out this month, Grave Imports. Additionally, he wrote the non-fiction book Wrong Side of the Wall.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Grave Imports and reported the following:
From Page 69 of Grave Imports:

Warner’s got superb connections. Within a day I have a letter on stationary from one of Hong Kong’s top law firms granting me the proxy to bid up to two million U.S. dollars on behalf of one of its clients who wishes to remain anonymous. And another from Heng Seng Bank affirming that the funds are available.

I’ve also got firm instructions not to use the letters for anything other than gaining entrance to the auction. I’ll be in very deep shit if I actually enter a winning bid.

Friday night I feel underdressed in my finest tailor-made suit when I walk into the Mandarin Hotel’s Chinnery Bar. It cost me nearly seven hundred bucks, U.S. bucks. That’s about what the guy who greets me spent on his shirt. He looks at my shoes. I’m glad I polished them. It was a last minute decision.

The Chinnery is where we’re all meeting. The plan is to then whisk us off to a secret location for the auction. It’s all very hush hush. I can hardly see the assembly of men through the thick blue haze of Havana cigar smoke. I’m sure it’s only the finest tobacco, but it takes all I’ve got to keep from doubling over in a fit of coughing. I’m not sure who’s here for the auction. I’m the only one who isn’t in a tuxedo.

A waiter - at least I think he’s a waiter, he’s in a white tux - comes up with a tray of rich, golden brown liquid in snifters.

“What is it?”

“It is our finest house stock Grande Fine Champagne XO cognac sir. I am certain it will meet with your approval.”

“Would it be too much to ask for a beer?”

“What beer would you prefer sir?”

“Whatever you’ve got on draft will do.”

“I’m afraid, sir, that we only have bottles of beer.”

Page 69 doesn't tell you a lot about the story of Grave Imports, other than that an auction fits in somewhere and that some of the book takes place in Hong Kong. But it does give you a sense of the protagonist, Ray Sharp. He works for a corporate investigations firm and is very much an "everyman," not any sort of "superman." Ray's a guy who knows at least a little something about the finer things in life, but who prefers the simpler pleasures. He doesn't quite fit in, in the swank surroundings. But he's got a wry way of looking at the world that allows him to be comfortable anywhere. I would hope that a careful read of page 69 would also let the reader know that I like to develop the traits of my characters with dialog, both internal and external in the case of Ray Sharp.

One of the running themes of my Ray Sharp series of books is the conflicts inherent in the rapid economic modernization of traditional Asia. While page 69 doesn't illustrate that, it does show Ray in conflict, mildly in this case, with his surroundings, which is an important aspect of setting up the tension and suspense throughout the book.
Read an excerpt from Grave Imports and learn more about book and author at Eric Stone's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue