Sunday, December 16, 2007

"The Graving Dock"

Gabriel Cohen is the author of the Edgar Award-nominated novel Red Hook, its new sequel The Graving Dock, and the novel Boombox.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Graving Dock and reported the following:
Sometimes, you just have to laugh. When I open my new novel The Graving Dock to page 69, it starts with this paragraph, which finds the protagonist in bed with his girlfriend:

Later that night, Jack made love with Michelle. Or tried to, at any rate. He propped himself above her, watching her closed eyelids move and twitch. She had disappeared into a deep interior landscape, as if she was searching for her orgasm on some far horizon only she could see. He tried to help her move toward it, but tonight he couldn’t tell how much he was contributing.

There are just a few sex scenes in the book, and I have to credit the book designer for the placement of one of them on this particular page. Reading it, you wouldn’t know that this is a novel about a Brooklyn homicide detective trying to solve several cases — which is fine with me, because I’m always just as interested in exploring his character outside of his job.

Above all, I see any scene as a challenge to show how a particular character thinks and feels, how they would act and react to what’s going on, and I like writing sex and love scenes because they present a great opportunity to do that. Another character might not care about his partner’s satisfaction, or might not feel any insecurity about his own prowess, but Jack does, and I hope that helps make him more real and human in the reader’s eyes.

I sometimes read books where the writer sends his or her protagonist immediately plunging off into some very involved plot, and I think, Whoa, hold on — I need to care about who this person is before I can care about what happens to them. For me, getting the reader emotionally involved with the lives of the characters is Job Number One.
Read an excerpt from The Graving Dock and learn more about the novel and author at Gabriel Cohen's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue