Wednesday, January 2, 2008

"Twin Killing"

Marshall Cook is the author of over 20 non-fiction books and the Monona Quinn mystery Series.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel Twin Killing, and reported the following:
Honestly, I was afraid to look.

Just what would be on page 69 of Twin Killing, third of my Monona Quinn mysteries for Bleak House Books? Just how badly would I embarrass myself here?

Last year I helped host agent/writer/teacher Donald Maass here at the University in Madison, where he enthralled a packed house with his day-long version of “How to Write a Break-Out Novel.” One of his suggestions was to throw your manuscript up in the air (AFTER numbering the pages!), collect the pages in random order and go through, increasing the tension on every page. (Every page!)

I turned to page 69 with that tough criterion in mind.

So what do I find — the great scene where the killer breaks into Maddie’s house? Or the one where Mo confronts the killer in the graveyard? Or even the one where she almost succumbs to the considerable charms of her old high school sweetheart?

Naw. Mo and twin sister Maddie are serving free lunch in a church basement. Specifically, Mo is going from table to table, offering cookies from a tray, and then refilling pitchers of milk. Pretty punchy stuff, huh? (Even allowing for the fact that I write cozies…)

Did I let the whole page go by with nothing grittier than cookies and milk? No, thank heavens. This is a reference to Maddie’s son, Aidan, busted for possession and about to take the fall for a murder rap as well, and Maddie’s obvious emotional pain. So I did stir the pot at least a little.

Now, if you’d only asked me about page 169! On that page, Mo is ordering pizza — to go!
Learn more about Twin Killing at the publisher's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue